Church mission trips changed a teenager’s life

SouthLake Christian Academy graduate Lindsey Crane went on a mission trip with Lake Forest Church to the Bahamas.
SouthLake Christian Academy graduate Lindsey Crane went on a mission trip with Lake Forest Church to the Bahamas. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Andy Crane worried it was over.

His daughter, Lindsey, was determined to help children she met on a mission trip to Long Island, Bahamas, two summers ago. She was a rising junior at SouthLake Christian Academy in Huntersville who had taken the trip with other youth and adults from Lake Forest Church, also in Huntersville.

The Cornelius teen collected several dozen stuffed animals along with donated sunglasses, toys, candy and Kool-Aid to get to the children by Christmas. Head basketball coach Rodney Monroe at SouthLake Christian gave her 30 basketballs.

“People really jumped in when they heard about it,” Lindsey said.

Then came the sticker shock. It would cost $600 to ship the items and maybe the same amount or more in import duty fees.

“I thought, ‘This is never going to happen,’” Andy Crane recalled. “This is just not practical.”

His daughter’s reaction: “We’ll just have to raise the money.”

She raised about $500.

The Hester family of Mooresville heard what she was doing and picked up the shipping tab. Lindsey didn’t even know them.

Government officials in the Bahamas waived the duty fees, and Lindsey ended up donating the money she raised to a program that feeds impoverished children there.

Lindsey, 18, graduated from SouthLake Christian Academy on May 29 and will attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in the fall.

She returned to Long Island in the Bahamas last summer as a rising senior, on another week-long mission trip. When she returned home, she gathered school supplies for children in the Bahamas.

She put out the word with fellow members of her Lake Forest youth group and collected 180 backpacks, along with pencils, crayons, notebook binders and Nerf balls. The Hester family again paid the shipping costs, and the Bahamas government again waived the duty fees.

The children Lindsey met on the trips were happy and content despite some of their families living in one-room homes with a single bed, she said. The children had no toys.

“I missed them so much, I wanted to do something for them,” Lindsey said.

Lake Forest Church member Karen Poppen called Lindsey’s efforts inspiring. “I don’t know many high school students who would spend parts of two summers serving the poor in another country and then coordinate huge efforts to collect gifts, two years in a row, so the students would be able to receive gifts at Christmas,” Poppen said.

Lindsey collected the gifts during busy parts of the school year, Poppen said, “yet she put God and others before herself.”

She maintained excellent grades, Poppen said, not to mention fighting through shin splints and illness to win the 800-meter race in her high school league track finals.

Lindsey said her dad’s example inspired her to reach out to others in need so far away.

Her dad took her older brother, James, now 20, on mission trips to Cochabamba, Bolivia, beginning in 2006 when James was 11. The family also includes Lindsey’s 13-year-old brother, Daniel, and mom, Elizabeth.

“We live in a consumer-driven society, and the mission trips teach us all to be givers and to look out for the needs of others,” Andy Crane said.

Mission trips have changed her life, Lindsey said, by showing her what she needs to do with the rest of it.

She leaves Saturday on a mission trip to Canal Point, Fla., with a group from Huntersville ARP Church. In July, she heads on a trip through Lake Forest to an orphanage in Cochabamba, in partnership with Children’s Impact Network.

Now, she said, she intends to make missionary work a career.

Marusak: 704-358-5067;

Twitter: @jmarusak

About this series

The Observer asked readers and school leaders for suggestions of standout graduates. Today, we continue our series about students who illustrate a range of accomplishments, including some who overcame significant obstacles.