We sat down with Ivelisse Acosta-Sierra to find out more about her life as a short-term missionary with the Church of God. She shared some of her background and the incredible experiences she has had on the field.
COGWM: Tell us about yourself and your call to missions.
Ivelisse: From my mother’s womb, God provided safe places for me to grow. The year abortion became legal, 1973, in the United States, my life’s fate was being debated. In the end, my mom stood firm and gave birth to me. As a toddler, I experienced healing from a baffling, disfiguring disease that at one point a doctor told my mother was lupus. My newly-Christian grandparents prayed, and in a dream God showed them my clean body. Soon, as God said, I was healed.
I grew up in church and even my school was a Christian school. There, at age 11, I gave my life to Jesus during a chapel service. My call to missions has been what seems like a natural progression from life experiences and my love for God.
Psalm 32:7, “You are my hiding place; you surround me from trouble; you shall surround me with songs of deliverance,” embodies what God has done for me throughout my life and thus has become the song of my ministry to children.
COGWM: In which countries do you typically minister?
Ivelisee: I have ministered and been ministered to in the Navajo Nation (Arizona), Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, and China. Recently I have ministered in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
COGWM: What is a typical missions trip like for you?
Ivelisse: My ministry’s mission is to provide safe spaces for children from womb to high school graduation and reach them for Christ through spiritual, social, and educational programs and events. During the last couple of trips I participated in Bible school promotion and Christmas programs at a children’s home. I also participated in medical clinics and sermon interpretation.
COGWM: Tell us a favorite story about something that has happened in your ministry.
Ivelisse: One of my favorite ministry stories happened in Colombia. I was preaching to a large youth group from my carefully prepared notes. However, in the middle of preaching, I completely lost my place and couldn’t for the life of me find my place. I kept talking as I looked, unsure of whether I was making sense. Still, I made the altar call and 25 young people accepted the Lord!
COGWM: What would you say to encourage others to be involved in missions?
Ivelisse: I would encourage people to form relationships as Jesus did and minister to them in Word AND deed. Missions start locally but they don’t stay local. We are called to those close by and to those in the ends of the earth, keeping in mind that sometimes the ends of the earth come right to your doorstep. As one of my secular professors urged, “Do not be their enemy and do not be their savior. Be their friend.” And I add: Jesus will do the saving!
COGWM: What are some of the needs of your ministry?
Ivelisse: Our needs are similar to that of most mission ministries: prayer, talent, and funds. Would you help me pray for direction and divine appointments? Would you go with me to bless and be blessed? Would you give funds for children’s church, school and arts/crafts supplies?
Thanks to Ivelisse for taking the time to tell us more about her missions work. To support her ministry, please visit the project link below.