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A Missionary Follows God’s Lead to Go and Serve the Least of These


Karlee took the last seat on the bus that rainy fall morning. As a Y staff, we were headed to Neenah for an Annual Campaign training seminar. It just so happened that the last seat was next to me, the staff chaplain. Little did either of us realize, the conversation that ensued was God-ordained.  Sometimes God can use something as insipid as a long bus ride to change the course of a person’s life, and that’s what this bus ride initiated for Karlee.

Karlee, our Youth and Teen Director at the time, was relatively new to our staff team, and we found a common interest in some of the initiatives our Y was implementing. She asked me more about my role and some of the things we were hoping to accomplish as an organization in spiritual development.  Our conversation quickly centered on our missions outreach and our growing partnership in Mexico, specifically at Esperanza Viva, a youth home for abandoned children rescued throughout that country. At that time, we had sent our first team to the orphanage and were looking to enlist and equip our second. Karlee was onboard and excited to explore the opportunity to be a part of that team.

Our conversation meandered in and out of a variety of topics over the course of the bus ride. But the excitement she expressed about missions was tucked away for me internally and would later blossom into some exciting changes, organizationally for our Y, and personally for Karlee. The downside to these changes was that the Y was going to eventually lose a young, talented staff member. But the upside? Our Y would commission its first missionary to go and serve in an international ministry, something that the national YMCA movement had lost over the generations of its history.

During the last half of the 19th through the first half of the 20th centuries, the American YMCAs sent thousands of missionaries overseas, making our organization one of the largest missionary sending agencies in the world. But over time, those efforts dwindled and the focus of the Y changed. Missions were no longer a passion of our organization. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t able to send our own. And Karlee is proof that as an association, the Glacial Community YMCA is serious about our mission, and on the forefront of training and sending passionate and vibrant servants into the world, serving God’s kingdom in a variety of roles. We are doing this through short-term experiences, and now in a long-term capacity.

As a result of her three trips, one as a leader for our third team to Esperanza Viva, Karlee said “yes” to God’s call to go and serve full-time as a missionary to the rescued children who now make their home at Esperanza Viva in Puebla, Mexico. She will begin her service in August of 2020. In July of this year, our staff sent her off with a going-away luncheon and commissioning, a first for the Glacial Community YMCA Association. But hopefully not the last.

We are excited to see and hear how God will use Karlee’s skills, talents and passions in her new role with the children at Esperanza Viva; skills she acquired as a member of our staff team here at the Glacial Community Y. And we are looking forward commissioning future missionaries from our YMCA family –to Mexico, or Chile, or wherever God chooses to place our passionate people in service.

Yes, the Glacial Community YMCA commissioned a missionary! And we will do so again. And again. Why? Because #ThisYcan.

You can follow Karlee’s journey as a missionary to Mexico at this link:





Locations: YMCA at Pabst Farms
Category: Spiritual