Following the heart
There's still so much to do, but time is starting to tick down for Canby's Reegan Whelchel – and she can't wait.
Whelchel is a little more than two weeks out from starting quite the adventure, one that will take her to New Zealand for three months of training in a variety of social justice areas, then deposit her on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific to work for two months at a family center as part of a Youth With A Mission missionary.
A veteran of three other Christian-based missions, Whelchel sees plenty of potential in this much longer and more intense trip.
"I'll be training in a justice stream in New Zealand, seeing what the Bible says about social justice and how I can implement it on the mission and in my own world," she said. "on Vanuatu, I'll work in the family center just serving families and helping with medical and dental care."
But there's a heavier, more intense scope for her work on the island. According to Whelchel, 90 percent of the girls on the island are raped before the age of 12. And she wants to see that change.
"It's pretty heavy stuff," she said. "I'll get to spend a lot of time with the women and children. Most of the time, it (the rapes) happen within the family. Fathers just don't know they should be protecting their girls. It's a very male-dominant society and the men haven't been taught they shouldn't be doing this."
Welchel earned her GED in 2015 and while a veteran of short-term mission trips, got the idea for something longer through her work at Canby Grove Conference Center.
"People there, as well as in my own church in Wilsonville, would talk about it and YWAM just kept coming up," she said. "I was going to go to Greece for three months to help with refugees, but God had other plans. It fell through and this just kept coming up. I did my research and found this New Zealand mission and it just kind of happened."
Whelchel said she's always had a heart for those who've experienced injustice – racism, sex trafficking, domestic abuse. And while she's been on two missions to Honduras to drill wells, as well as one to Mexico to build a home, she realized she sought something more from the mission trips. She wanted something longer and something that would allow her to work on fixing those injustices.
"I want to have some sort of ministry either dealing with incarcerated mothers or teen moms," she said. "I kind of have a heart for babies and their moms. They kind of get pushed aside."
She's been fundraising all summer and continues to look for financial help to make the trip go. Anyone who would like to help can go to www.givesendgo.com/reeganwhelchel to make a donation and to check out her blog during the trip.