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18-year-old Shades Mountain member follows passion for missions to Zambia comment (0)

September 15, 2011

By Anna Keller

Like most of her peers, recent high school graduate Kelsey Weeks went off to live away from home for the first time this fall. But the 18-year-old wasn’t headed for a dorm room. Instead Weeks chose to take a gap year to focus on missions in Zambia before starting the college journey.

She had been to the South African country twice before with a missions organization called e3 Partners, and during her senior year at Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham, Weeks said she felt called to forgo college for a year and return to Zambia.

“As we were going through the college search, I just had always had it in the back of my mind, ‘What if Kelsey doesn’t go to college yet?’” said Emily Neill, a fellow member of Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills, who has been Weeks’ friend since they were 3.

It turns out Weeks’ parents also had the feeling their eldest child might take a nontraditional path. Her mother, Becky, said she was prepared for the announcement.

“We felt this was something she might do, so we were preparing for that in our own hearts,” she said. “We started praying with her about it.”

This passion for missions was nothing new, Weeks said. For her, the seed had been planted years earlier, during a trip to Peru when she was 9.

“I went to Ethiopia when I was 14, and that’s when I knew for sure God had called me to serve overseas,” Weeks said.

Right now, she is living in the town of Ndola but will move to Lusaka soon and be based there until she comes home in July 2012. When Weeks returns, she plans to attend Mississippi State University in Starkville.

While in Zambia, her various roles include working at an orphanage called The House of Moses, planning logistics for a three-week e3 backpacking trip during the summer of 2012, working alongside Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) with a food drop program and participating in Jesus Film productions.

Weeks is working with Cru employees Abel and Meyer Zulu. Abel Zulu is the e3 country coordinator, so he trains and disciples leaders in church planting and heads up the church-planting teams.

She hopes to eventually work with Wes and Laurie Wilcox, Baptist representatives who have been on furlough, as well.

So far, even though Weeks knows she’s fulfilling God’s calling in her life, being in Zambia has been a difficult transition.

“I think before I came, I had this romantic idea of going to Africa and being surrounded by these starving kids and coming in and making them smile and sharing the good news with them,” Weeks said. “But it’s hard realizing that’s not how it is. The hardest part, though, has been complete surrender to the Lord and what He has planned for me.”

But that complete surrender to God’s calling has been her greatest strength, according to Neill.

“She talks about how sometimes it’s hard, but the way she’s been so faithful in following this calling has been amazing,” Neill said.

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