I encountered Christina last summer. She was fifteen years old, born and raised in Magadan, Russia. Christina was a parishioner at the Catholic Church in Magadan and attended Sunday Mass regularly. When I spent two months in Magadan last summer, my teammate Lisa and I were entrusted with the task of preparing Christina for her Confirmation, which she would receive later that year.
Lisa and I – more so Lisa – worked hard to prepare Christina for Confirmation. Lisa had one-on-one catechesis with her, teaching her about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Eucharist, etc. In and outside of class, Lisa taught Christina how to pray, especially how to pray with Scripture. Lisa walked with Christina for the two-months we were in Magadan. Then we left.
The next time I saw Christina was in Alaska. She is a part of our mission team this summer here in Anchorage, Alaska. We’ve been serving in Alaska now for a month. At the beginning of mission, Christina shared something that struck my heart.
We were at a small gathering of people from the parish in Kenai, Alaska. Fr. Michael (a missionary priest in Magadan), Katya (a missionary in Magadan), and Christina were asked to share about their experiences in Magadan. During the time of sharing, Christina opened up about how the mission team last year really impacted her. She said we taught her a lot about Jesus, and since then she has been going to daily Mass. When asked what she wants to do with her life, she said, “I want to do what God wants. If he wants me to be married, I’ll be married. If he wants me to be a nun, I’ll be a nun.”
Christina’s reply really struck me. “I want to do what God wants.” This didn’t sound like the Christina I had left in Magadan. The Christina I met last year was just beginning her walk with the Lord. Now she is saying that she wants to do whatever God wants. She has moved from a place of knowing Christ to loving him.
This was really beautiful to see. Jesus truly touched Christina’s heart during last summer, and he continued to draw her deeper in her faith while we were gone.
Christina has reminded me what mission is. Often times, I’m tempted to believe that the fruit of mission is dependent on me. It is my words and actions that changes a person. Thus, when I stop ministering there shouldn’t be fruit. But this was not the case with Christina. Although she was touched during our mission, she continued to grow in her faith after we left. During the school year, she continued to encounter Christ in daily Mass, prayer, and other people, and he changed her. This is how mission works. We point people to Jesus, and he touches and transforms their heart. This is true for every time I share the gospel. I serve as Christ’s instrument, but every time it is he who touches and transforms people’s hearts. All I have to do is point them to him. He will do the rest.
It has been such a blessing serving with Christina here in Alaska. I am so excited to see how Christ continues to draw Christina to himself.
God bless you all,
Joe and the Magadan Mission Team