East Texans gather to say bon voyage!

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY (KLTV) - From across the country, to around the world, their first stop was East Texas. Tuesday night, nearly a thousand teenagers descended upon Teen Mania's campus outside Lindale. Now, most of those students are on their way to Central America, Africa, and Asia with one purpose in mind. Ministry.

"They're from Canada, Mexico, Guatemala," said Beth Swan, a Teen Mania missionary.

They are also from East Texas, but they're all here on one accord.

"We love the Lord and we love people and we want to change the world," said Swan.

Swan and Abbey Bennett just got back to the United States. A few days ago they were in Uganda.

"America's really small compared to the world," said Swan. "Whenever you're here, it seems like it's the only place that exists...when it's part of something so much bigger...so much more profound."

"Honestly, I think the people there impacted me more than I influenced them," said Bennett. "I don't think that I realized how much my relationship with the Lord would be deepened being here and how many amazing people I would meet."

For weeks, the new group of students has been gearing up for their own global expeditions.

"[They learn] character and honesty and integrity and learning how to live pure lives and be the leaders of their generation and not be ashamed of their faith," said Ron Luce, who founded Teen Mania more than a decade ago. "If they can get the thrill of really knowing how God can use them when they're young, then their Christianity for the rest of their life will take on new dimensions."

"When we leave this earth, that's the only thing that matters...is what kind of impact did you make," said Abigail Tostado, just back from a moth in Costa Rica.

Tostado says that's what brought her to Teen Mania.

"I got a chance to see them pray for healing over a woman for four hours," she said. "There's something inside of me...hope that I've found that I want to share with other people."

They are young missionaries on a mission to spread the mania and the message.

The students shipped out Tuesday morning and many will be out of the country for the next few weeks. Founder, Ron Luce says Teen Mania Ministries' global expeditions has sent out nearly 60,000 students to date.

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