A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed to meet via the phone Stephanie Fisk. I had first learned of Stephanie through an article about an upcoming event she was coordinating and participating in with the purpose of raising the awareness of modern day slavery and also to get more people involved in fighting human trafficking through prayer and action. Stephanie is a young woman who has totally given her life over to pursuing God and His big, amazing dreams for her life. She inspires me and I think she'll inspire you to with her story...and her passion.
Here is my gift to you this Easter weekend, an interview with a follower of the man whose life, death, and resurrection we honor on this special holiday.
My name is Stephanie Lynn Fisk. I’m a 26 year old native of Milford, IA. I grew up in a small, rural farming town of around 2,000 people. I have a sister, Tiffany, who is three years younger than me. We were both blessed with amazing parents, Gary and Kathy.
After high school, I attended Wartburg College in Waverly, IA where I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry and Spanish. My original plan of med school eventually switched to the Peace Corps. But Lord had something else in mind altogether.
I grew up in a Christian home, but didn’t make my faith mine until sophomore year of college. After my first few mission trips (Harrisburg, Pa; Haiti; San Antonio, TX) I became to realize that my faith was not meant to remain silent, but to be lived out in love and service to those around me. Since then, my heart has been set on reaching out to the ‘marginalized’ – both within the US and abroad.
After graduating from college, you and your friends did something pretty unique for young women your age, would you please tell us about that?
After graduation, three of my college friends and myself headed out on the open road in search of ‘life’. For one year we traveled around the US in a 15 passenger van, and volunteered for one week in each of the continental United States. Each week we connected with local service ministries – soup kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes, etc - throughout the country (inner city, rural, small town, Appalachia, Indian Reservations). We also shared this experience with congregations, encouraging them to get out in their own community to serve their ‘neighbors’.
This ‘road trip’ turned in to a non-profit called Latreia. Latreia is a Greek word that comes from Romans 12:1 – it means ‘to live a lifestyle of worship through service’. Currently, Latreia hosts short-term mission trips for youth and college groups in St. Paul/Mpls, MN.
When and how did you sense that God was first leading you into overseas missions?
After my first service trip to Harrisburg, PA I knew that I would somehow be involved in missions. But it wasn’t until after my international experiences to Mexico, Haiti and Guyana that I found out that my heart truly lied abroad. After spending time with the people in developing countries, Jesus and his message of serving the least of these came alive…I was also beginning to come alive as passions and desires began to surface and reach the needs of the world.
It was my senior year of college that I audibly heard the Lord’s voice say "Go" in response to a call for oversees missions. I was overcome with the Holy Spirit and knew from that point on I was a ‘sent one’. After spending 2 years of being involved in missions domestically, I began to feel the call to head oversees. The Lord actually gave me a vision of traveling to 7 continents in 7 months…which eventually lead me to the World Race.
Please give us an overview of Adventures in Missions, particularly the World Race.
Adventures in Missions is a non-profit, Christian organization based out of Gainesville, Georgia. Through both domestic and international short-term mission trips (1 week-1 year), they aim to raise up a generation of radical disciples who are committed to ‘being the church’ in a hurting world…ie – loving the orphan, widow, sick, poor, etc.
The World Race is one of their newer programs based off Matt. 10. Participants travel to 11 countries in 11 month sharing the love of Jesus Christ as they go. A life of abandonment leads to a radical faith journey as individuals discover more about their identity in Christ and their role in the Kingdom. For one year, participants live in community while serving the poorest of the poor and connecting with the body throughout the nations. http://www.theworldrace.org/
Can you please tell us about your personal World Race experience? Where you went, some highlights of what you did?
I left on the World Race in Jan ’07. We started off in Central/South America (Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Argentina). While in these countries we partnered with local churches. This included everything from preaching, teaching, praying with people throughout the neighborhoods, loving the ‘poorest of the poor’ in the city dump, planting a sister church in the Andes and serving in a soup kitchen in Buenos Aires.
Our next stop was Africa – Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. Here we were greatly encouraged by the body and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. While in refugee camps we saw the blind see and the deaf hear. We had ample opportunities to love on orphans everyday and, unfortunately, to see first hand the devastating effect AIDS is having on entire nations.
The last 4 months were spent in Asia – Thailand, Cambodia and China. In Bangkok, we worked alongside organizations that reach out to young women who are caught in a life of prostitution. While in Cambodia, we partnered with a local church and orphanage. In China, we entered as foreign exchange students and had the opportunity to disciple college students through teaching English. In these countries, we witnessed the effect of religious and ethnic genocide – in some areas, it is still happening today.
As a result of your World Race experience, I know you have a passion for fighting against human trafficking. What actions do you have planned at this time related to this crucial issue?
While in South East Asia, I came face to face with the harsh reality of forced prostitution and human trafficking. Mind-blowing statistics became faces and names. After returning to the states, I knew that I had to do something about this. So, I began researching and found out that 27 million people live ‘enslaved today as bonded/domestic laborers, sex slaves or child soldiers.
Because this number is mind numbing, I focus on the one. I focus on Chantrea – the 12 year-old orphan in Phnom Phen, or Benz – the 26 year-old prostitute in Bangkok.
In attempt to raise awareness on the modern-day slave trade and to motivate the body to action, a few of my buddies and myself are hosting a bike-a-thon called Team Up, Gear Up: Biking against Human Trafficking. From March 24-31 we are biking from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon and back again. The 450 mile ride will be broken in half with a 20 mile hike (in the Canyon) in between. Everyone is invited to join us.
In relation to the bike ride, we have been sending out press releases and sharing with organization/colleges and on radio shows. I have also been blogging about current events related to this critical issue. (http://www.stephaniefisk.theworldrace.org/)
For folks who can not participate in BIKING AGAINST TRAFFICKING, what are some other ways that they can be involved in working to abolish human trafficking?
First and foremost, get informed and inform others. Join the movement and use your gifts to abolish slavery. This can include anything from biking to painting to campaigning. Visit our Biking against Human Trafficking site (www.freewebs.com/baht) for resources.
What advice do you have for people who feel a particular passion for a certain area of ministry?
Pursue your passions. Yes, it will include risk, abandon and courage; but you will never know what it means to live fully alive until you are living the life the Lord created you to live. He created you with a unique purpose. Jump in feet first and commit yourself to prayer. My mentor once told me, "You have to be moving before the Lord can direct your steps."
Do not forget that your ability to love those around you flows from your ability to be loved. Do not let your ministry become more important that your relationship with the Lord. Intimacy unto Harvest. When your heart, mind, soul and strength is focus on your Maker and Provider you will live each day to the fullest.
In closing, if you could tell people one thing that you wish everyone knew about God and being in a relationship with Him, what would it be?
Like I said above, "Intimacy unto Harvest". Our identity does not come from what we do, but what we do (role in the kingdom) comes from our identity in Christ. Our identity can only come from a living, breathing relationship with the Lord. If we seek out our identity in anything else – our friends, our job, our ‘goodness’, our looks – it will lead us down a slippery slope. True joy is found in Christ alone. This is key to walking out our God-given destiny and passions. Live simply. Live in faith. Live in Love.