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Why I’m Doing Mission Year


We love to hear what inspires people to give a year committed to community, justice, service, and simplicity. If you are a committed team member interested in sharing your story, talk to Ashleigh! If you are considering Mission Year, we hope these stories will be the words you need to take the next step. You won’t regret it!


Tasha Jordan, 2014-15, Chicago


I’m doing Mission Year because I’ve always felt that God was calling me to serve in the community. I’ve worked at a non-profit called The Pittsburgh Project in Pittsburgh, PA since I was 14 and I’ve always felt like that was where I was meant to be and what I was meant to be doing: being a servant leader and serving my community. I grew up poor. I grew up in a single parent home. I grew up in communities similar to the ones that we will be working in during our year in whatever city we are placed. Neighborhoods filled with addiction, latch key children roaming the streets, gang violence, and drugs. I’ve done countless hours of volunteer and community service doing the same things we will be doing during our year. And at the end of service my heart has always been pulled to stay…or has made the promise to return to help those in need. I want to do Mission Year because for me loving God and loving people isn’t something that I want to do for a couple hours a day maybe once a week. I want it to be a lifestyle. I want to go to school for Social Work and Public Health to do some of the same things we will be doing in Mission Year. I think I avoided the idea of doing community justice and service for a long time because I felt that it wasn’t as “legit” of a career as being a doctor. But you can’t ignore what God is calling you to and I feel as though Mission Year is the first step of many where I stopped listening to my own thoughts about what I want, and started listening to the desires that God has implanted in my heart.

Ciera Smith, 2014-15, Chicago 

I am a 22 year old graduate from University of Maryland, originally from a small town outside of Philadelphia. After months of indecision, then a decision, then more indecision, and then a final decision of what I was going to do post graduation from college, I decided to do Mission Year. I realized that the reason I want to do Mission Year is because I not only want to do something different, but I also wanted to make a difference. I realized through my months of indecision that I was being called to serve others and that my heart yearns for helping other people. I finally knew that I was called to do this because every time I tried to find something else to do post – graduation, it just didn’t seem right and my heart was not fully invested in it like it was when I decided to do Mission Year. I knew God was telling me that it was not time for me to work a job yet, but go to Chicago and learn for another year.
So I am excited for a year to learn, to grow, and to make an impact in Chicago and continue to do help and serve people years after Mission Year ends.


Amber Cullen, 2014-15, Philadelphia


It’s hard for me to decide if I chose Mission Year or if Mission Year chose me. During my last year and a half of college, I had been researching and wrestling and fervently praying about post-grad life. A mentor of mine knew this, and mentioned that I should check out Mission Year. He told me all about his experience as a Mission Year Team Member. Honestly, though, I simply wasn’t feeling like Mission Year was “right” for myself post-graduation.

Months later I was once again praying fervently about post grad life. I yearned for a place where I would be mentored, challenged, and discipled; a place where I could live in community with people who valued working through conflict. I yearned for a place where I could explore where my gifts might best fit in the realm of “the real world” and being faithful to the Lord, a place where I could live at the intersection of Jesus and justice. I yearned for a place to live where I was surrounded by people whose life circumstances were different than mine a place where I could actively listen and be present in this.

On a whim, I looked up Mission Year’s program and found that all the yearnings I had were key aspects of Mission Year’s year-long program. I remember being surprised and saying, “Oh…that’s fascinating.” It was an oddly perfect match, so perfect that I sat on it for only two short days and felt the long-awaited confirmation and peace. I swiftly applied right before the first deadline! So…did I choose Mission Year or did Mission Year choose me? I’m not sure, but I CAN tell you that I eagerly await the start of my year in Philadelphia through Mission Year!


Katie Duffy, 2014-15, Houston

I am 21 years old and I just graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. For me, doing Mission Year means embracing an opportunity to learn about how God can and wants to use me, and letting go of the control I want to hold onto so badly.

 Since early on in high school, I had my life plan all figured out. I knew what I wanted to do and exactly how I would get there. Without ever truly consulting God, I assumed we were on the same page. However, through the relationships I’ve built and experiences I’ve had during college, I’ve discovered what it means to have a real relationship with God and listen to what He wants for my life. Consequently, I realized that He had very different ideas than I did about what my future looks like.

So, I am doing Mission Year because it is, without a doubt, what God wants me to be doing. I have no idea what kinds of things He wants to show me and teach me, but I know that it will be a year of incredible growth. I am excited to experience the joy, pain, heartache and love that come with confronting injustice and building relationships.


Ashley Klores, 2014-15, Philadelphia

I am 24 years old and from a small town called Franklin, Texas and have been a Christian for about 9 months. I am doing Mission Year because I’m not real sure what God’s plan for my life is and I don’t plan on waiting around trying to figure it out because I do know that God will be where Mission Year is.

My heart aches to be around people who I can learn from and who can help me grow in my relationship with God. I just want to “do life” with people and really learn to be a neighbor. I want to really live just like in Luke 10:25-29, where Jesus tells the man that to inherit eternal life, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus says “Do this and you will live!”  And that’s what I want.  So that’s why I’m doing Mission Year. I’m not coming as a servant, or to serve, per se, I come simply as a neighbor who loves God and loves people.