How does one gain the confidence to say, “Yes” when the Lord presents an opportunity? How does one know when an outreach ministry is for them? “You have to go and try to know,” Cheryl Levey says. Her response to the question about walking through doors of opportunity the Lord has given her was, “I’ve said YES so far ….” Wow! Love that! Her willingness to try is a testament to her willingness to serve. Along the way, she found out some positions were “not her thing” but others really clicked. International School Project (ISP), a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ, is an organization she fell in love with easily – you might say it really clicked.
Cheryl admits to having wanderlust to see the world. The list of countries she has been to reads like the passport stamps of a travel journalist. She is humbled that God has given the desires of her heart through her work with ISP. In 1993, when her own kids were just in 5th and 7th grades, her husband encouraged her to “go”, to take her first trip with ISP to Russia. Cheryl says God built a love of Russia into her heart early on…additionally for Ukraine, Taiwan, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Uganda, Turkey and the Middle East. She is passionate about taking the hope of Christ to students through their teachers using a curriculum based on a Biblical World View. Many public and Christian schools around the globe have adopted the ISP Dream Makers Dream Breakers curriculum as morals and ethics training. The curriculum, written by “Four PhD’s and me” in Cheryl’s words, was an honor and privilege to have been a part of; to be a part of the work the Lord is doing around the world.
Cheryl loves the way ISP organizes their trips. Levey says it’s an “easy” way for men and women to try on a cross-cultural mission trip. You are guided every step of the way. She likes the “come along side me” format. It’s an organization she loves – you can hear it in her voice. She gets animated and excited as she shares about past trips. Recounting how the Lord has worked over the years in Ukraine, to the point that their whole program is run by national believers, she states, “The goal of every missionary is to work themselves out of a job, giving the nationals full control of bringing God’s Truth to His people”. Cheryl says, “The ISP trips are hands on, you get to develop relationships. Volunteers get to see that if God can use me there maybe He can use me at home too. That’s why I’ve been involved for 25 years.” Look for the twinkle in her eye as she speaks. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
Cheryl has been a part of the RiverLakes Community Church family for 40 years. She has loved “staying put in the same church” – being part of what God is doing in the community through the church. Over the years, she has served in Women’s Ministry, as Children’s Ministry Director, and currently Global Missions Director. She also taught elementary education at Del Vista School in Delano for 4 years and then team-taught Jr. High at Stockdale Christian School for 17 years. In 2000, she believed the Lord was prompting her to step out of her teaching position in faith, trusting that He would provide. She did so before she had any confirmation that RiverLakes Church would offer her a full time position as Children’s Ministry Director. Faith is a hallmark of Cheryl Levey’s life and choices.
Darrell Feil, fellow mission’s team member, says this about Cheryl, “She is all in when it comes to Missions. Consistently, her heart and mind are there.” He’s impressed by her tenacity and drive. When he thinks of Cheryl, he is reminded of Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” At an age when many are looking to “slow down and take things easier” Levey believes retirement has freed her up for more ministry. She cannot wait for the next trip with ISP. Feil says, in other cultures people of age are valued and respected more perhaps than here in America where it seems youth is esteemed over age. Therefore, in Missions there is an advantage to being “older”.
Considering some of the countries she has traveled to with the ISP, Cheryl was asked if she is ever “afraid”. She admits there is more fear below the surface than perhaps she shows, but she has confidence in the Lord’s faithfulness. Her favorite quote from missionary Hudson Taylor says, “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.”
Regardless of your age, if you have a desire to “go and try” a missions service project, there are many opportunities available - - just ask Cheryl Levey!