Many Northwestern students use their college years to learn about God’s creation, perhaps find a spouse and figure out what to do after graduation. Although these things come naturally to some students, others can be left wondering, Do I really have to take this class? or What is God calling me to do with my life?
Students who are still trying to make decisions about what to do after college, along with those who want to do more to serve Christ during these four years, might want to consider South America Mission (SAM).
South American Mission was founded in 1914 and works to train leaders, develop new churches, offer Christian education and fulfill needs such as health care, drug rehabilitation and poverty relief. In the past century, this organization has worked to help numerous people who are less fortunate and is always in need of more volunteers to continue to transform communities.
Northwestern graduate of the class of 1985 Laura (Graham) Kienzle and her husband, Paul, first found out about SAM in 1984 at the Urbana missions conference. They were immediately inspired to become involved.
“Basically, we felt like we fit into the organization and loved the personalities of the people we firstcame into contact with,” Laura said.
The two of them got married after Paul graduated with a Physical Education degree from the University of Iowa, and he began working at Village Northwest Unlimited as Laura finished her Social Work degree at NW.
They have been working with SAM since her graduation and currently live in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Their primary area of ministry is church planting and discipleship.
According to Laura, her experience at NW helped she and Paul to grow in their faith and learn about their own personal walk with Jesus while also discovering what it means to be part of a community.
“The mission field challenges both of these life areas in big ways,” Laura said. “You need to be able to fuel and put emphasis on your relationship with Christ, and you need to know how to work in a team.”
According to Laura, she, her husband and their three daughters truly love the people and the culture in South America.
“We found it a privilege to be welcomed into their lives and families and (to) be able to share the hope of the Gospel in a variety of ways,” Laura said.
She went on to say that the people that they’ve met and helped have found a deep place in their hearts.
Paul and Laura will be on campus Friday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 25, to talk about their mission work and answer questions for students who are interested in becoming involved. They advised students who are considering mission work to gather information by talking to missionaries and searching within their churches and on the Internet for opportunities.
“Most of all pray for God to open doors and impress on you how he would want to use your unique gifts and weaknesses for His Glory,” Laura said. “God uses those who are willing.”