NEW ORLEANS—Teacher at Frankfort Christian Academy, Abbey Caudell, is also a former GenSender. After spending a GenSend summer in New Orleans playing volleyball in the Bayou St. John and doing door-to-door evangelism, Caudell changed the dynamic of her classroom back home.
“I am a very introverted person,” Caudell said. “It is a struggle for me to talk or be the one to initiate conversation due to anxiety and fear. However, GenSend broke those chains for me. Through Gen Send, my heart that had been so hardened over the years, was shattered by Jesus. For the first time, I was compassionate, cried with people, dealt with righteous anger, served hard and loved with reckless abandon. These exact principles are ones that I strive to live out in every aspect of teaching. I often stay late, come in early, stay until everything is done, volunteer for everything I can, cry with students and pray with them. These are all things GenSend fostered in me.”
Every year, Frankfort Christian Academy does a service week for middle and high school students. Each teacher can offer a different trip. Some trips proposed are local, and others are domestic or international.
“Once I heard each of us had to submit a proposal for a trip, the Lord told me New Orleans,” said Caudell. “I had only been teaching for two months at the time, so I was a little hesitant. However, I submitted New Orleans anyway, and it got accepted!”
The group took six different cars and one trailer.
“I modeled this trip after Gen Send,” Caudell said. “We worked with my friends at Lakeshore Church where George Ross is the church planter. They graciously hosted us for the week. Each morning, a group of eight of us served breakfast to the homeless community through Grace at the Greenlight. On Monday, we partnered with the Baptist Friendship House, a nonprofit who house women and children—survivors of homelessness and human trafficking. We prayer-walked through the French Quarter and handed out blessing bags with items people had donated.”
On Tuesday, Caudell’s group heard Ryan Melson, New Orleans GenSend city coach and West Bank Baptist Church planter, about witnessing to Muslim communities. On Wednesday, the group was asked to get out of their comfort zones to do door-to-door evangelism just like Caudell herself had done two years before.
“They were so nervous, but we knew they wouldn’t stay feeling that way,” said Caudell. “By the end of the day, we had to practically force the groups to come back. They wanted to stay out witnessing.”
Park clean-ups and work with the homeless community stretched many of Caudell’s students.
“The biggest thing we talked about that week was everyone has a name and a story,” Caudell said. “People often treat people who are homeless like modern day lepers. This stuck with all of the students. I saw them pray for, shake hands and hug people who were cast aside by society. It was such a beautiful picture of the gospel.
“The fruit I have seen from this trip is absolutely incredible. These students came back on fire for the gospel and that flame is STILL going. Since this trip, one student came to Christ and multiple have said they would move to New Orleans. The high school students have started mentoring the middle school students. These students came back ready to shake things up for the better. They are continually stepping out of their comfort zones, coming up with ways they can better serve their communities. They make me so proud. I even had parents that came saying, ‘Thank you so much for this trip. My kid’s life has changed, and even I stepped out of my own bubble.’”
One of the biggest things that struck Caudell was how willing her administration and students’ parents were to follow a 23-year-old, first-year teacher.
“It was encouraging to me to know that when the Lord calls you to something, even if it seems crazy, He will follow through,” Caudell said. “Ephesians 3:20 was shown throughout this week and through this whole process. I am beyond thankful God uses broken people like me, who are introverted and awkward, to advance the kingdom. GenSend has changed my whole life, and I am forever grateful for it. I’m thankful to fiercely love ‘The City that Care Forgot.’”
To read more of Abbey’s story, see here.