Before Karissa Burtch attended the 2012 Youth in Ministry conference at Milligan College in the mountains of northeastern Tennessee, she had envisioned becoming a forensic scientist, getting married, raising her children and living in a nice home bounded by a white picket fence.
However, that version of a perfect life took on an odd twist when Burtch attended a lecture that detailed the work of missions. She was profoundly influenced by what she had heard and decided that life as a missionary would be better suited for her.
“But that’s OK because chemistry wasn’t a good fit for me,” Burtch said. “I don’t have to make a lot of money. I’m much better at Spanish. I’ll use that talent to become a missionary in a Spanish-speaking country, but I don’t know where.”
A freshman at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and a graduate of Beech Grove High School, Burtch will be further introduced to the life-changing work of missions when serving as an intern this summer with Christian Missionary Fellowship International.
From May 29 through Aug. 2, she and about 45 other college students from the Midwest will fan out across the world to mentor underprivileged children through evangelical activities, team ministries, health programs, vacation Bible school and English lessons. Burtch will team with another intern in Mexico City, while the other participants will be dispatched to such areas as Asia, Germany, Kenya, Tanzania and the Ivory Coast in West Africa.
The trip will cost her about $4,000, of which she has raised about $1,500. She would like to put a big dent in that figure when holding a garage sale at Southport Heights Christian Church, 7154 McFarland Road, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 5. “I haven’t set a goal; I’m hoping that God will provide.
“Members of the congregation and public can donate items for the sale, knowing that they will help me raise money for the ministry that I will be doing in Mexico City,” Burtch said. “This will give them a sense of purpose knowing that they are doing something to help a youth grow in Christ.” Monetary donations can be made by visiting www.cmfi.org/reach and clicking on “support your intern.”
“My mom and dad want to help me, but I’m not going to accept their money unless I am desperate. I want to do it on my own.”
When Burtch approached her parents, Noel, a locksmith at IU Health, and Rhonda, a substitute teacher, about going to Mexico City, she said they weren’t as prepared to say yes as she thought they would be. “But I prayed, and it all worked out. They know how important it is for me.”
Although her full-time missionary work will not begin until graduating from IUPUI, she plans to take advantage of any opportunities that come her way between now and then.
“I would like to open a orphanage someday,” said Burtch, who got the idea after reading “Kisses from Katie,” by Katie Davis. The book detailed how Ugandan children don’t have any of the resources necessary for a good life. “They don’t have anything. And they aren’t raised in a safe environment.”
Burtch said Davis has adopted 14 little girls and teaches more than 100 children every day. In addition, she ensures that all of her students are properly fed, cleaned and clothed.
An avid photographer who likes to run, she has two older brothers, Ryan, 24, and Austin, 23, and a younger sister, Danielle, 17.
Burtch doesn’t see her missionary work interfering with her dream of raising a family and living in a home with a white picket fence ... that part of her life will just be delayed.