Touch Down

Posted Jun 18, 2012 by 12 Comments

It’s hard to believe a month ago I was sitting at my desk in the downtown Indianapolis office where I have worked for the past six years, and now I’m in the AIDS epicenter of the world.

I was feeling a little uncomfortable with all this change, but now I know I’m right where I am supposed to be.

When a friend first sent me the link to World Next Door last summer, I started reading along out of a vague interest in global justice issues, drawn in by the compelling writing and gripping stories. I never imagined a year later I would be here in South Africa, experiencing some of those gripping stories myself.

I’m here because a long line of people encouraged me, challenged me and invited me to dream. Although I had studied journalism in college and always wanted to be a writer, I had ended up in a different kind of job. While I learned and grew there, I couldn’t shake my passion for writing and desire to turn it into something more.

Soon after I started reading World Next Door, I began to imagine a way that doing something I enjoyed could be harnessed into something bigger.

It was a twist in my own story I didn’t expect, but wouldn’t trade. And that’s why I’m so excited to be embedded with World Changers Academy this summer, where young South Africans are being equipped with leadership skills and invited to dream.

Leadership students enjoy the beautiful view at World Changers Academy during a break from morning class sessions.

As HIV threatens a generation, these young people are living hope for what’s to come. In the face of bleak statistics, they are hearing, perhaps for the first time, that they were created on purpose and have gifts and skills they were meant to use.

I’ve experienced the powerful hope of that message in my own life, and I can’t wait to see the way that message is changing lives and turning the tide at the core of a vicious pandemic.

So I can warn you from experience that reading along with us this summer will likely change your life too. It might not mean boarding a plane bound for a foreign country a year from now, but you probably won’t hear these stories and stay the same.

That might be uncomfortable, but it will also be good. Because I think we we’re all meant to be World Changers.

Enjoy this post? Get future updates sent to you for free! Join by email or RSS

Next Steps
    • Follow along with us this summer via our weekly emails or monthly newsletters!
    • Email me if there is a topic you’d like to learn more about this summer!
    Next Steps

About the Author: Jen Gunnels is a 2012 summer intern. She graduated in 2005 from Indiana University, where she studied journalism, political science and IU basketball. She loves sports, country music and the state fair and after feeling a stirring in her heart to leave her cubicle and go write, she is doing just that!

More posts by Follow Jen on Twitter


  1. Curtis Honeycutt said... 


    June 18th, 2012 at 8:25 am  

    Jen, so excited to go on this journey with you (electronically speaking)! We are praying that God will work in and through you this summer.

  2. John Shirbroun said... 


    June 18th, 2012 at 9:12 am  

    At the commision we mentioned we will be behind all of you in prayer, and we will. First article is great! thanks! John

  3. Barry Rodriguez said... 


    June 18th, 2012 at 11:40 am  

    Jen, I’m pumped to see how God uses this summer in your life (and also in ours)!

  4. Dave Rod said... 


    June 18th, 2012 at 1:46 pm  

    Be our eyes and ears Jen, and bear witness for us!

  5. Kinzi Borchik said... 


    June 18th, 2012 at 7:31 pm  

    Jen! This is so cool! I made Jamie read about what you’re doing! glad to see you’re dreaming and doing! :) excited to keep up with you!

  6. Jen Gunnels said... 


    June 19th, 2012 at 10:53 am  

    Thanks everyone for your encouragement and support! God is busy here and we’re excited to share more as the summer progresses!

  7. Paula Wustrack said... 


    June 20th, 2012 at 6:45 am  

    Jen, so excited to be reading your articles and can’t wait to read more. We miss you and support you 100%! Praying for you and your team.

  8. JimM said... 


    June 20th, 2012 at 11:00 pm  

    “It might not mean boarding a plane bound for a foreign country a year from now, but you probably won’t hear these stories and stay the same.”


  9. JimM said... 


    June 20th, 2012 at 11:05 pm  

    …And then, you might just be boarding a plane headed to only God knows where. Thanks Jen for the warning. Can’t wait to read on.

  10. Laura said... 


    June 22nd, 2012 at 4:04 am  

    Wonderful intro Jen! Can’t wait to read more your family is SO proud of you!!! Sending you big hugs from home, Laura, Adam and Caroline

  11. Linda said... 


    June 22nd, 2012 at 12:20 pm  

    Thanks for taking us along on your journey with you. I look forward to your next update. Am praying for you and the team! We miss you!!

  12. Mary said... 


    June 22nd, 2012 at 4:58 pm  

    Gunnels – great first blog! I cannot wait to track your entries as the summer progresses. Miss you!

Leave a Reply