Akron woman embarks on Youth With A Mission journey

By on March 5, 2014

Guyana in 2013. This boy is a part of the Akawaio people.

Guyana in 2013. This boy is a part of the Akawaio people.

Jessica “Jes” Crills is about to embark on a journey that will combine her desire to serve others with a love of travel.

The 22-year-old Akron resident graduated from Lancaster General’s Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in 2012 and currently works as a nurse, but she’s looking forward to a change of pace in March when she begins a two-year leader ship commitment at Youth With A Mission (YWAM’s) base in Mayreau, a 1.5-square mile Caribbean island that’s part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Mayreau is really small, the population is about 300, and there’s one small village. There’s one school, two churches and a store. It’s in the Caribbean, so the water is re ally blue, and there are beaches, but there’s not a lot of tour ism. Although it’s a small is land, the cost-of-living is pretty high since everything has to be shipped in,” Crills explained.

As a precursor to this journey, she spent five months last year in YWAM’s Discipleship Training School. She completed a three-month lecture portion of the training program in Mayreau, where YWAM has a 42-acre base that was donated to the program, and a two-month outreach program in Guyana, a country on the northern coast of South America.

A member of Hinkletown Mennonite Church, Crills interest in mission work was sparked in her pre-teen years.

“I grew up in a Christian family and mission work was part of our upbringing. My first mission trip was in 2003. I was 11-years- old and we went as a family to YWAM’s base on St. Croix (one of the US Virgin Islands). There I felt that God was telling me that YWAM would be part of my life,” she explained.

“YWAM’s motto-’To Know God and Make Him Known’-really resonates with me. On every single trip we’ve had something to accomplish, a project that meet the needs of people, but there’s also an aspect of spreading the word about Jesus.”

After that initial mission trip, she participated in a mission trip with her church ev- ery year. Crills returned to St. Croix in 2008 and 2011 and was part of a YWAM team that worked in Haiti after the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit in 2010.

During that trip to Haiti, she helped construct a building, and while on St. Croix she helped organize a children’s camp, which she also did last year in Mayreau, and in Guyana she helped paint buildings on the YWAM base and worked on an outreach project.

“While I’ve been to a lot of places in the Caribbean and some of the islands are popular tourist destinations, our work is far removed from that. On every trip there’s a project,” she said with a smile.

Crills explained that the training program she completed last year is the first step to becoming a full-time YWAM staff member, and her two-year commitment in Mayreau that begins in March is the next step. This time, in Mayreau, she will assist with administration and staffing for the next training school.

Crills said that YWAM staff members live on the YWAM base, but they do not get paid, so they look to family, friends and their local community for monetary support.

“Right now, I’m hoping that people will partner with me and support my efforts. My ultimate goal 10 years or so down the road is to get married, and start a new YWAM base in the Caribbean with my spouse,” she said.

Anyone interested in providing monetary assistance may contact Jess through her Facebook page, Crills in the Caribbean, or call her at 859-4532.

by Rochelle Shenk

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