Palm Beach Atlantic University student-athlete Katie Runyon had a choice of doing a nursing internship in her hometown this summer or honing her soccer skills in preparation for the fall season.
She chose neither, instead opting to spend 2½ months in Zambia, a country she had never before visited.
|PBA senior Katie Runyon visits children in a village in Luangwa, Zambia. Runyon spent most of the summer volunteering in the country, which is located in the southern region of Africa.|
"I felt called to do missions this summer," said Runyon, a senior nursing major from Quincy, Ill. "The Lord orchestrated for me to go to Zambia."
Runyon’s trip to the southern African country was coordinated through Gospelink, an organization whose mission is to provide as many people as possible the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ and to help them to grow spiritually.
On May 18, she began the 19 hours of air travel that took her first to London, then to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Shortly after her arrival, she began teaching Bible lessons to children in a school in Lusaka, and later she put her nursing skills to use in a medical clinic in Chongwe.
The trip also took her into the bush region, to a local Bible college and to an orphanage. She spent several nights with the children at the orphanage, which had no running water or electricity.
During her trip, Runyon blogged about her experiences. "The children at the orphanage were more precious than words can describe," she wrote. "Each night we would go into their sleeping room and share scripture with them; scripture to encourage them, show them that they are loved and that though they may be abandoned by the world they are not abandoned by our Father in heaven."
She also played soccer with the children in villages she visited, sometimes using makeshift soccer balls, she said.
She spent much of her time working with missionaries and assisting with projects like helping people mud their houses. As the weeks progressed, Runyon enjoyed seeing the different ministries and how they operate, knowing that they are all working toward a common goal, she said. One of the organizations she worked with in Zambia, the Give Life Project, was founded by PBA graduate Stephen Nelms '06.
She is back now at PBA with her teammates preparing for the preseason games, which begin in early September. She said she is excited about both the returning and new players. "The girls are so on fire for the Lord this year," she said.
As the school year gets under way, she said she is working on ways to get others inspired to help the orphaned children of Zambia.
"The Lord taught me so much," she said. "I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future."