NEW ORLEANS—Abbey Caudell has, to her knowledge, always wanted to become a teacher. She was born the daughter of a long line of teachers.

“One cold February day in 2010, I felt the Lord calling me to ministry,” Caudell said. “I didn’t know what that would look like exactly, but the more I went through school, the more I realized teaching would be part of my ministry. Through teaching, I could mentor and disciple students.”

From her time as a student, Abbey saw many students pushed aside by or through the educational system because of economic statuses, behavior problems and how their home lives were.

“I knew these students were the reason I was supposed to become a teacher,” said Caudell. “I became a teacher to love the outcasts, unloved and broken like the Bible says to do in Hosea 2:23.”

As an introvert, Caudell struggles to initiate conversation. Anxiety and fear often surface in social situations.

“GenSend broke those chains for me,” Caudell said. “I learned that truly living life on mission means I can’t live in fear of saying the wrong thing or coming off awkward. The gospel is so much more important than all of my selfish fears. The realization of this has carried over into my teaching. I strive to be intentional with every student, parent and co-worker whom I come in contact with. Teaching makes you get out of your comfort zone every day. I have to be attentive to the needs of my students. Are they having a bad day? Is something going on at home? Is there a reason they are acting out?”

Because of her time in GenSend, Caudell’s classroom has become a place for not only learning but for students where they can laugh, cry or vent. GenSend is designed to be one of the most exciting, intense and unique student missionary experiences in North America. Participants spend their time learning to live life on mission under the guidance of local compassion ministry leaders and church planters in a major city, on a college campus or at a Send Relief Ministry Center.

Caudell served as part of the GenSend New Orleans team in 2016.

“My team of 10 split into two different teams,” said Caudell. “My team took on the center of New Orleans in Mid-City. Mid-City is one of the most diverse parts of New Orleans. It also suffers from gentrification. We did a lot of door-to-door evangelism, became part of the Mid City Volleyball Group for the summer—playing volleyball two days a week in the Bayou St. John—prayer-walked and served with church plants throughout the greater New Orleans area.”

The three folks we worked with the most were Ryan Melson who was our city coach (West Bank Baptist Church planter), Justin Haynes (Refuge Church in the Bywater planter), and George Ross (Lakeshore Church planter). All three of these men and their families loved and served us so well. They each challenged us and encouraged us to grow in ways that were difficult but so fruitful. All of this was so impactful because I was the only one from my team from a small town. Each of my team members were from much larger cities. My small hometown has about 20,000 people. Everything we did was so far out of my comfort zone, however it made me a much more fearless and faithful Christ follower. I had to do things that pushed me so far past my comfort zone that I didn’t think that I would be able to do any of it. But through so many prayers about living fearlessly and through the grace of God, I was able to do the hard things that I was presented with.

To read more of Abbey’s story, see here.