forgiveness in God’s heart to go around. If
GCU staffer Josh Hulkkonen wasn’t certain of
that, he wouldn’t be planning to go back next
Hulkkonen and fellow residential director
Jennifer Doane led a mission trip of nine
students through seven cities in Southeast Asia
over 15 days in May and June. They learned
about the efforts of local missionaries and
advocates from Destiny Rescue to free victims
of sex trafficking.
“My prayer going into this was our hearts
would be broken for what breaks the Lord’s
heart, and we would want to do something
about it,” said Hulkkonen, 24. “It was very hard
to come home. We wanted to learn more and do
more. We were all shocked by something.”
Shocked by the foreboding darkness of
Myanmar and the poverty and sadness in
Cambodia, where young girls are kidnapped, sold
by their parents to support the rest of the family
or tricked into the sex-slave trade under the
pretense of office employment.
The team listened to powerful stories of
missionaries who rescue young people and bring
them to safe houses, and the students spent
time on the streets with translators, trying to
establish trust with the girls, obtain their contact
information and turn it over to Destiny Rescue
for follow-up.
“In talking with the girls, we could see the
hurt,” Hulkkonen said. “We asked them, if they
weren’t here, what would they want to do? You
could see joy emerge when they talked about
what they wished they could do.”
Since returning in May, four GCU students
on Hulkkonen’s team have interviewed to
work with Destiny Rescue, and others are
planning campaigns to raise awareness of sex
trafficking and encourage support of projects
eradicating it.
Washing away her shame
On Saturday, May 24, Thuraisingam hiked
to the San Juan River with Diane Kocur of
Hands Giving Hope. They talked about God’s
unconditional love and forgiveness, and in
that place she had grown to love so much,
Thuraisingam invited Jesus into her heart.
But Satan wasn’t done with her yet. In the
dawn of the next morning, Thuraisingam
awakened with a fever and searing ear pain.
She, Kocur and GCU student Nicole Peron
prayed together that God would shatter any
attempts to block her baptism. She thought, “I’m
stronger now than that.”
The next day, on Monday, May 26, 10
people scrambled down the rocks to the San
Juan River and watched Thuraisingam wade
into the brown water with Pineda and Kocur.
Later, another student would tell her that,
as she was being baptized, the clouds parted
and light shined down on her. Kocur said her
face “looked like heaven, so peaceful, I was
smiling in the water.”
Thuraisingam remembers two things —
first, the thing that matters: “I felt God’s
presence, and I want to feel it every day.”
Second, the thing that matters not at all: She
lost a flip-flop in the river.
And there is this: Thuraisingam’s earache
and fever were gone.
Matching passions with needs
Cara Clancy thought she’d found her purpose in
the fifth grade. A young gymnast and volleyball
player, Clancy had sustained 16 broken bones and
become fast friends with her orthopedic surgeon.
Being a children’s bone doctor was for her.
A few years later, her future path became
further defined when she saw a video about the
suffering of children in Africa. “I knew I needed
to go there and do something medically related,”
said the 21-year-old GCU senior and pre-med
major. “And it wasn’t just me dreaming it up, but
the Lord placing it within me.”
So Clancy, who’d taken five global mission
trips with her church, jumped at the chance to be
part of GCU’s first journey to Uganda in central
Africa. She and five other GCU students spent
eight weeks on a medical mission trip with the
University’s global partner, CURE International,
which operates a children’s hospital in Mbale.
remembers two
things — first,
the thing that
matters: “I felt God’s
presence, and I
want to feel it every
day.” Second, the
thing that matters
not at all:
She lost a
in the river.
GCU nursing student Nicole Peron (far left photo) and eight of her new best friends mug for the
camera at a children’s home in La Esperanza, Honduras.
photo by ray chener
GCU Residential Directors Josh Hulkkonen (second from left, second photo) and Jennifer Doane
(front row, far right) accompanied students to Southeast Asia.
photo courtesy of josh hulkkonen
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