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Student Missionary Heeds Her Own Altar Call

Larry Pena, September 22, 2009
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If you've ever talked to a young person just back from the mission field, you know the story they're going to tell. There's the initial expectation that they're going to be a blessing to others, and then the inevitable sense that God is leading throughout the experience. And then by the end of the trip they realize that they themselves ended up being the ones that were blessed.

But you don't often hear a story like the one of the Pacific Union College student missionary who accepted her own altar call.

Every year for the past seven years, PUC has participated in an international evangelistic trip with ShareHim, an organization that empowers Adventist lay people in ministry through exposure to evangelism. When senior Jaymee Leamer signed up for this year's excursion to El Salvador, she thought she knew what to expect. "I didn't really think about what affect it could have on me," she says. "I only was thinking about how the Lord could use each of us to change the lives of those around us."

But soon after the preaching got underway, she began to feel inadequate. Her Catholic family had converted to Adventism when she was 12 years old, and she had never thought to get baptized into her new church. Now, 10 years later, she was hearing the message of her home church with new ears, and from her own mouth.

The preaching experience in the Salvadorian capital city of San Salvador was intense. Each of PUC's ten student missionaries had their own church, where they were in charge of preaching a two-week evangelistic series. One of the scheduled sermons was on the importance of the baptism commitment. "Giving all of these sermons to my church, telling them how important it is to be baptized and make that choice to stand for the Lord, I felt like the biggest hypocrite of all," she says.

On the night of the baptism sermon, after wrapping up the message and giving the altar call, Jaymee began to weep. "I stepped down from the podium with a number of the other members of the church and decided it was time to make that choice," she says. The local pastor who was translating for her didn't know what was going on, until she explained her situation. He finished the call for her, and invited the audience to join the speaker in committing themselves to the Lord.

On the last day, the group's leader Hernan Granados, a pastor and PUC residence hall dean, baptized Jaymee in the pool of the hotel where they were staying. Over 1,200 Salvadorians had made the same commitment during those two weeks. "It's funny, because when you volunteer for the mission trip, you're supposed to be baptized. Somehow she fell through the cracks, and nobody checked it," says Granados. "God showed us, 'I'm in control here, not you.' It was amazing to see that."