With the community's help, both Kaylee Stoops and Adrienne Jennings hope to be sharing the Christian gospel with people in developing countries this year.Stoops, 21, hopes to leave July 1 on the World Race missions trip sponsored by the group Adventures in Missions, which is based in Gainesville, Ga.
Team members will go to 11 countries in 11 months, with a route taking them to Ireland, Ukraine, Romania, India, Nepal, Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa, Thailand, Cambodia and Taiwan.
In each country, team members will partner with a church and work with its pastor. The work could range from helping in schools and preaching to door-to-door evangalizing and other projects.
“It makes it kind of exciting, not knowing what we will be doing,” Stoops said.
To make the trip, however, Stoops must raise $15,500 by Jan. 1, she said. That includes meeting installment payment deadlines of $6,500 by June 17 and $11,000 by Oct. 1.
Born in Lafeyette, Stoops has moved around a lot as her family followed clergy jobs for her father, Eric Stoops, a United Methodist Church minister.
“I've kind of always done little missions trips when I was in school,” she said.
She started to pursue a degree in elementary education at Ivy Tech Community College, but decided that wasn't really what she wanted to do.
While taking some time to decide on a future life course, she went on an Adventures in Missions trip last June and July to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in Africa, she said. They taught in schools, cleaned houses and churches, did door-to-door evangalizing, preached in churches and worked in Kenya with street children.
“When I was there, I completely fell in love with overseas missions,” she said.
The people in Africa were “some of the friendliest people I have ever met,” she said.
She's not worried about safety there or anywhere on the trip.
“I want to help these people,” she said. “I think the biggest thing we can give them is to give them the hope life can be better than it is.”
She was scheduled to be at Adventures in Missions this week for immersion training for their time overseas. The training includes living in tents and without showers because, while overseas, they will live out of a backpack weighing no more than 50 pounds, including a tent and sleeping pad.
To raise money, Stoops has been selling bracelets, with half of the proceeds going to her missions trip and half to needy women in the Philippines. She has been mailing out letters asking for financial support, speaking at churches, asking friends to spread the word and working on organizing a fundraising dinner.
People also can donate via her blog at www.kayleestoops.theworldrace.org.
Regardless of whether they donate or not, Stoops asked that people pray for her missions team and three other Adventures in Missions teams making similar trips at that time.
Her experience during the missions trip last year in Africa and the planning of the World Race missions trip also have brought the future into focus, Stoops said.
After returning from the World Race trip, she plans to enroll at Toccoa Falls College, a small, Christian liberal arts college in Georgia.
There she hopes to prepare herself for a job with a missions organization as the person who builds contacts with people in developing nations who will be hosts for missions teams.Jennings, 27, plans to travel Oct. 16-27 to Nigeria to assist the Rev. Skip Powell of Capital Heights, Md., with a ministry convention in Benin City and other work in that country.
They made the same trip last year, and people there have been telling them they can't wait for them to come back, Jennings said.
As she did during the 2012 trip, Jennings will speak to young people about abstinence, outreach, their relationship with God and how to get involved in their church. They also will visit an orphanage, which was constructing a new building last year because the old building no longer can accommodate all of the children.
To make the trip, Jennings hopes to raise $3,100 by Oct. 1.
Jennings, a 2003 Concordia Lutheran High School graduate, has been involved in ministry most of her life.
Her father, the Rev. Al Jennings, founded Summit Church in 1984 in Fort Wayne, just after he and Powell, a good friend, graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in Broken Arrow, Okla.
Adrienne Jennings graduated from Rhema in 2007, and then served as youth pastor at Summit Church from 2007 to 2012, she said.
She currently coordinates missions efforts for the church, as well as helps with its online campus and in other areas.
“I just have a big heart to get the love of God to every country,” she said of her interest in missions work. “I really want to be an example of world outreach in Fort Wayne.”
Jennings also isn't worried about safety, despite frequent reports of violent attacks in northern Nigeria by Islamic extremists.
She and the group traveling with Powell were stuck on a road last year, however, when Muslim police in Benin City reportedly refused to allow Christians enter the city for six hours. “After that, we were fine,” she said.
In preparation for the trip, Jennings is getting ready to send out letters asking people for financial support.
She also hopes to raise funds by speaking to young girls about life by presenting her Christian- and relationship-themed poetry. Her speaking engagements included Fort Wayne Girls Rock, a day-long event designed to motivate girls in middle and high school to pursue their goals and dreams.
Jennings hopes to inspire more young people to participate in missions work and to interest more area residents in helping others around the world.
“I really want to involve Fort Wayne in this one day,” she said.
How to help*To donate or for more information about Kaylee Stoops' World Race 11-month missions trip, go to her blog at www.kayleestoops.theworldrace.org.
*To donate to Adrienne Jennings' missions trip to Nigeria, send a check payable to Summit Church to: Summit Church, 2320 Maumee Ave., Fort Wayne, IN 46803. To ask her to speak, call 424-5683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.