For years, my husband and I led groups of teenagers on mission trips while we worked at a church in the capacity of youth pastors. After seeing the growth that comes with exposing young people to other cultures as they labor not only physically but relationally with the people they minister to, it became obvious to us that change is inevitable in intense scenarios where communication, food, and commodities are strong challenges to what a person is accustomed to.
I often wondered if these young people whom we were taking around the world would someday influence change in society and maybe even in the church. We had made it a point in our ministry to focus on discipleship, leadership training and cross-cultural experiences in order to achieve that end; to stain young men and women with a strong biblical foundation and a global perspective in order to help them become influencers in their marketplace some day. That’s how the idea for our program, Abante International came about. Our vision is to shift culture through marketplace missionaries. Our mission is to prepare world changers to learn, live and lead in a global community. We do this by taking college students on a nine month journey where they engage cultures around the world, without putting on hold their education, while providing them with organic discipleship experiences and equipping them with leadership training to give them a competitive advantage.
It took us approximately ten long years just to organize, plan and build the relationships needed to have all the research, information, locations, and contacts in place before we could get the program started. In those 10 years, we experienced everything from discouragement, loneliness, rejection, excitement, miraculous interventions and a new way to listen and follow God’s leading. Those years were very important because they helped us understand our purpose and motives and opened us up to many opportunities we would have dismissed otherwise.