One visit to the mission field, short term or long, has a tendency to change a person. The experience often exposes an individual to facets of God's love and aspects of ministry that they would otherwise never encounter. Through Charis Bible College's missions program, many students have had the opportunity to see the world and God's people from a new perspective. This was the case for CBC student, Sharayah Stitt; her trip to Russia with a team from CBC-Colorado solidified a direction for her future.
The team led by CBC-Colorado's Missions Coordinator, Michelle Patterson, visited St. Petersburg in January and ministered alongside staff and students from Charis Bible Training Center. The Colorado students had the chance to minister in the CBC extension school as well as at a local rehab center and small village church several hours outside St. Petersburg. It was at this village church that Sharayah encountered the Lord in a new way.
At the church, the students gathered in groups of three in front of the platform for a time of prayer ministry. A young girl named, Galya, was brought to Sharayah's group. It was evident by her lack of eye contact that Galya was very shy and timid. Through the translator Sharayah understood that the girl, about 17, was recently orphaned, and now found herself living on her own and caring for a younger sister. While they did have a home and a small pension from their father's passing, it was clear that Galya's heart was broken and she needed love.
"After praying, I asked our interpreter to tell Galya that she was pretty and reminded me of one of my friends. She looked up nearly astonished, for the first time making eye contact, then smiled ever so slightly and threw her arms around me in the most desperate hug I have ever experienced," Sharayah said.
The two embraced for several minutes and for the next half hour, stood with their arms around each other, listening to another CBC team member minister on God’s love. From those first moments, Sharayah and Galya were inseparable. If they were standing, they were hugging; if they were sitting they had their arms around each other. It did not matter that neither spoke the other's language—God’s love bridges any language barrier.
"She had obviously not been shown much love growing up, and I believe God specifically sent me to Russia to spend time with her, love on her, embrace her, and show her the tangible side of God’s love," Sharayah said.
When the group was departing, Galya found an interpreter to share her thoughts with Sharayah. Galya told Sharayah that she loved her. During the emotional moments that followed, they shared one last embrace, and Sharayah said she loved her too.
Sharayah spent the ride home meditating on her experience. She said, "He sent one person around the world just to show one of His children that He loves them. God filled me with a taste of the love He has for everyone. I was overwhelmed by even that small fraction; unable to fully comprehend the capacity of love God has for us and wants us to show others."
For Sharayah Russia was a life-changing, life-directing experience. She has seen how much God desires for others to know His love, and He revealed to her that He has gifted her and called her to be a missionary— to spread His love to others abroad.