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WRITE: Never the Same Missions, Adult Leaders, Part 2

Posted by on January 21, 2014 in mission trips, missions, Uncategorized, WRITE | 4 comments

peru 3645Today, I continue my series on the Never the Same teen missions trips. (This post was planned for last Friday, but I was traveling and without Internet. Snowy roads kept me from venturing out to find a connection.)  Since 2010, I’ve had the privilege of traveling as the writer on these trips and have served alongside NTS teams in Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru. This summer, I’ll travel to Costa Rica with the group.

Last week, I shared about two of the amazing adult leaders who regularly serve on the Never the Same trips. I can’t tell you about everyone, but here are a few more snapshots so you can see the kind and quality of Christ-followers God brings alongside Steve Goley (president of Big World Ventures) and author/speaker Susie Shellenberger, who together began sponsoring these trips 16 years ago.

Elaine: Elaine comes on the trip as our professional counselor and spends many of her evenings meeting with teens who are struggling in one or more areas of their lives. But Elaine does much more than that. Fluent in Spanish, she often translates for her team and, although she has the freedom to stay back from daytime ministry because of her late-night work, she rarely does. Elaine’s love for teens, caring heart, and effective listening make her the perfect choice for this ministry. And I’m sure that’s why she returns every year.

Ray: Ray is the person you’d never expect to see on a teen missions trip—unless you knew his heart. He’s single, forty-ish, and has his own landscaping business in the New Jersey/New York City area. But he also loves teens and loves to share the gospel. His business is built around sharing Christ with the least of these, and through the years he has employed many former drug addicts and street people. Ray’s teams typically do more evangelistic dramas than any of the others because of his passion for getting the Word out and the gospel in.

Brenda: Brenda’s another wife and mother with a heart for teens and missions. Brenda’s caring shows in her eyes, her voice, and the many hours she spends counseling teens at “Tuck-Ins” (evening meetings where the women leaders check in with the students—men/male students have “Slap-Ins”). The students on her team develop a heart of compassion for each other and for the people they serve because they see that lived out in Brenda’s life. She loves much because she has suffered much, and everyone who knows her reaps the benefits.

Rich: Rich is another man you might not expect to see on a trip until you looked inside and saw his heart for the Father and for students. He’s a strong, quiet father and grandfather who has ranched in Nebraska for many years. He has participated in other mission trips but told me he believes God has called him to minister to the teens who come with Never the Same. One of my favorite memories from last year was of Rich participating in a rap about the Bible with the students from his team (see the picture at the front of this post). I don’t think there’s anything he wouldn’t do to help students grow closer to Jesus and serve Him more fully. I’m honored to know him and all these wonderful leaders.

Have you traveled on a Never the Same trip? Do you know some or all of these or other wonderful leaders? Feel free to share your (positive, please) comments below. And if you’re interested in joining us this summer in Costa Rica, you can find out more information here. Watch for more Never the Same posts coming soon! 


  1. I was so blessed to experience the Peru mission trip and my Team 7 family which included Brenda and Rich. I was forever changed and abundantly blessed!!

    • Amen to that, Dawn! And YOU are one of those amazing leaders, too! Your willingness to share your heart and your life with the students blessed us all.

  2. I live your writing Marti!
    I’ve met all these leaders except for Rich but I remember that rap…oh my word FUNNY!

  3. Thanks, Carrie. I love your unbiased (haha) opinion. Can’t wait to see you in Fort Lauderdale and Costa Rica! You need to get to know Rich. He’s so wise (and also funny).

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