Teri Gunnink in Relevant Magazine
national disaster is talking. Young people are blogging about what
leading Christian voices said. They are trying to understand why God
would allow such a devastating event to occur. But such a response is
really no different than apathy, if nothing gets done.
Three years ago, blogging and discussion might have also been Teri
Gunnink’s reaction to the cataclysmic earthquake that struck the
Republic of Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, killing thousands of men, women and
children. Back then, she barely knew the country existed-it was merely
an island on the map. Gunnink had absolutely no clue that God had
already arranged for her to unveil His kingdom to the Haitian people.
In fact, she had other plans.
Growing up in tiny Aztec, New Mexico, Gunnink always dreamed of
doing missions work. As a child, she had a strange obsession with
Africa. Though, the thought of traveling halfway around the world and
ministering to individuals she knew nothing about seemed unrealistic.
So she set her ambitions aside and started thinking “practically,”
which led her to the University of New Mexico to major in Business.
Before long, though, Gunnink’s childhood desires began to reappear.
After graduating college, she found herself googling “long-term mission
trips.” By January 2009, God had supplied the funds, and she was launching
out of the United States with more than 50 others on The World Race-a
yearlong missions adventure in which individuals in their 20s journey
through more than 11 countries and compete in extraordinary challenges,
from sleeping on floors and eating bugs, to working with church plants
in the world’s most impoverished areas. Not only was she living a
childhood dream, Gunnink was finally following God’s calling on her
team traveled by vehicle to the second stop-Haiti. Gunnink wasn’t
looking forward to this leg of the venture. “I had no desire to go
there,” she recounts. And she wasn’t welcomed kindly. Gunnink saw
tremendous poverty: people sleeping in garbage piles, children without
clothes, restrooms and wells in the same location. It was a shadowy
And as the trip came to a close, she spent a night praying for her
new little friend. “During this time, I definitely knew the Lord was
leading me back to Haiti in some capacity,” Gunnink recalls. The
Caribbean country that she had once greatly dreaded was now on the
radar as her future mission field.
like Gunnink’s. Not everyone can physically go and respond to the
disaster. People have jobs, families. Not everyone can give, either.
And despite how easy it is to debate and complain about secondary
issues, the response that carries no excuses and only makes sense is