Lake Center Christian School Mission Trips Change Students’ Lives
By: Emily Chesnic, Campus Communications & Volunteer Coordinator
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:14-5
HARTVILLE – “I am going to the DR (Dominican Republic) soon to serve the Lord and minister to people,” Joshua Hornyak, a Lake Center Christian School senior and class chaplain said, with excitement for what is ahead.
LCCS senior Sydney Varga is also going to show the love of Jesus in the Dominican Republic. As a young student at the school, Sydney would learn about needs in the DR when LCCS senior high students were preparing to go and serve on a short-term mission trip there.
“I’m so excited to go on this trip because it’s something I’ve seen others do since I was in elementary school. I never thought I would have the ability to travel without my family, much less out of the country. Then, as I grew closer with God throughout my high school career, I have had the desire to serve Him and others and reflect Him as much as possible,” she said. “I love making people happy, and I cannot wait to be a source of joy by sharing God’s love for both the children and adults there.”
Joshua and Sydney will be two of 39 Lake Center junior and senior student missionaries going to the Dominican Republic (DR) March 18-25 to share Christ’s love with the tiny migrant village of Margarita, positioned amid the region’s vast sugar cane. Lake Center has been sending teams to the Dominican Republic for over a decade now.
The students will travel with Campus Pastor Mr. Jeff Knori and his wife, Mrs. Soo Knori; Senior High Spanish Teacher Mr. Michael Wallace; Senior High Bible Teacher Mr. Thomas Hersman; Senior High Math Teacher Ms. Emily Jacobs; and LCCS alumni Mr. Thomas Fulk, Mr.Caleb Schroll, LCCS Varsity Boys Soccer Coach, and Ms. Angela Kerchner, who also is an LCCS third grade teacher.
The team will partner with Meeting God in Missions (MGM) to spread hope in Margarita through light construction work, food distribution, a vacation Bible school, evangelism, and prayer. According to MGM, “The mission trip experience is one in which an individual will effect change and be changed.” MGM facilitates short-term mission trips to the Dominican Republic to encourage participants into a deeper walk with God while tending to the needs of the poor.
Continuing Ministry Work in Margarita
In 2010, Lake Center Christian School began taking students and alumni on mission trips to the Dominican Republic through MGM. Mr Knori said Lake Center specifically has been working to build relationships with Margarita, an impoverished Haitian village in the providence of Hato Mayor, for six years through consistent mission trips.
The Lake Center mission team will be arriving to minister in Margarita several months after it was severely impacted by a hurricane. Mr Knori said the team will work to clean up, repair, and connect.
“I am looking forward to the labor side of the trip, because I think that is where my talents are. I can help those who really need work done,” said trip participant, LCCS junior Weston Bauer. I’m confident in my talents, but I’m nowhere near the image of Christ. I pray that I can show Jesus through myself and my work.”
The students also will minister by going from home to home, introducing many to Jesus for the first time and praying with them.
The team will fly out from Pittsburgh March 18, later arriving at the MGM Compound in Margarita, where they will be staying. Each day in the DR will begin before 6 AM, with student missionaries devoting the early morning hours to have their individual devotions and prayer time. The team will gather for devotions at 7 AM, collectively spending time in communion with God, Mr. Knori said. The group then will hear a message from MGM before heading out to minister in the name of the Lord all day and evening. Each day will conclude with a time of devotions and attendance at Dominican churches.
Dedicating Time to Missions
Students first learned about the 2023 mission trip to the Dominican Republic last fall. Mr. Knori said junior and senior students were encouraged to step out in faith to participate.
Upon hearing about the trip, Weston felt led to serve as a Gospel worker for Christ during his spring break.
“I want to go to the DR to learn and grow in faith, as well as serve those in need,” he said. “I am praying I spark something within those who have yet to know the meaning of Christianity.”
Marisa Varner, a junior at Lake Center Christian School, committed to prayerfully consider devoting her spring break to missions. At first, she was not certain she could spend an entire week in another country, however.
“I was fully set on not going, but then God laid it on my heart that this was important. I felt the Holy Spirit leading me,” she said. “I think the impact I can have on others and the impact on my own life will be the big takeaway.”
Seeking Partners in Ministry
The students are gathering financial support partners for the mission trip. They have been raising funds by writing support letters and sending them through the mail, email, and delivering them in person. Each chaperone and student needs to raise $1,390 for the trip. As of February 8, Mr. Knori said the team has raised 70 percent of its fundraising goal. Financial donations for the mission trip are being received online through Lake Center’s website at www.lccs.com/spiritual-life.
“It is a blessing to receive financial support from people who not only want to help me carry out God’s will but to do so with others who are as passionate about it as I am,” said Weston.
The team also is seeking prayer partners as they prepare to represent Christ abroad.
“I appreciate everyone who is praying for me already and the rest of the team,” said Sydney. “Pray we can make a huge impact on the people and children there, and reflect God through our service and worship. It would be such an incredible thing to bring people closer to Christ and introduce Him where He is unknown.”
Preparing for Service
The team has been meeting specifically to prepare for on the ground ministry. This includes practicing skits in Spanish. These skits will be presented by Lake Center Spanish 3 class students during a Vacation Bible School program they will hold in Margarita. The team is working on several wordless presentations, as well.
“These kids are going to do a marvelous job. They are great at connecting with people and loving people,” said Mr. Knori.
Mr. Knori said he loves taking juniors and seniors to the Dominican Republic in March because they return to Ohio and Lake Center Christian School “fired up about Jesus.”
“This can make a huge impact on the culture of our school,” he said.
Mr. Knori said some past LCCS students were so impacted by serving Christ through missions they ended up changing their college majors.
“God has called some into ministry right when we were in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “This is a life changing trip.”
Above: 2023 Lake Center DR Mission Trip Student Team
These junior and senior Lake Center Christian students are part of the school’s missionary team traveling during spring break, March 18-25, to the Dominican Republic to minister to those in need.
Photograph By Dawn Campanelli
Above: 2023 Lake Center DR Mission Trip Chaperones
Pictured are Lake Center’s chaperones for the 2023 mission trip to the Dominican Republic, left to right, Lake Center alumna and 3rd grade teacher Ms. Angela Kerchner; Senior High Spanish Teacher Mr. Michael Wallace; LCCS alumnus Mr. Thomas Fulk, Campus Pastor Jeff Knori, Senior High Bible Teacher Mr. Thomas Hersman, and Senior High Math Teacher Ms. Emily Jacobs. Not pictured are trip chaperones Mr. Caleb Schroll, an LCCS alumnus and the varsity boys soccer coach, and Mrs. Soo Knori.
Photograph By Emily Chesnic