As an elementary student at Calvary Christian School, Karson Meneses dreamed of becoming a missionary one day.
The idea began to fade as she grew older, but it remained in the back of her mind.
Meneses — known by her maiden name Barefield at the time — graduated from Calvary in 2011, and then she spent a year studying drama at Columbus State University.
“But I quickly realized that it was just not what God had called me to do,” the 24-year-old woman said recently in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer. “I went on a nine-month trip with an organization called Adventures in Mission, and we went to three different countries, stayed there for three months each, and God told me that’s what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.”
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Now, Meneses is a missionary living in Colombia, South America, where she and her Colombian husband, Eyson, have started an after-school program for children ages 2 to 16, many of them from broken homes.
The couple lives in a city called Armenia, and they work in a small village 45 minutes away, called Filandia. They recently launched a foundation called Fundacion Pioneros to support their projects. They also purchased a house to be their “ministry home.”
In addition to running the after-school program, the husband and wife assist teachers at farm schools in the area, as well as elderly people at a local nursing home.
On Saturday evenings, they lead youth group gatherings, where they share experiences, offer advice, and just listen to those who attend. They also coordinate a church service on Sunday mornings for younger children.
The couple has been in Columbus since early December visiting Meneses’ parents. On Jan. 5, they held an informational breakfast at Calvary Baptist Church to share their experiences. They showed a video of the children and families with whom they work.
“We use different methods like teaching English, teaching religion, having an after-school program and small groups to share Jesus to everyone that will listen,” she said. “Today we’re just trying to spread awareness and grow the support and network for our ministry, since we’re just two.”
Those who came out to support the couple included some of the school teachers and administrators who watched Meneses grow up at Calvary from K3 through high school. They beamed with pride as she talked about her life as a missionary.
Len McWilliams, lovingly called “Mr. Mac” by his former students, served as headmaster at Calvary for nine years. At the breakfast, he introduced the young couple, and spoke of Meneses’ Christian upbringing.
“I was in Christian education for 35 years before I retired, and without a doubt, I can tell you that Karson is one of the best examples that I have seen of that principle of the three-strand chord (of home, school, and church) working,” he told the audience. “But also for somebody that took the education that she had from all those different sources and to put them into action, she has done so much with what she has been given, and God has blessed them.”
Meneses said she spent a year in Honduras after the nine-month trip with Adventure in Mission. After that, she traveled to Honduras with members of Evangel Temple Assembly of God.
Next, she went to Colombia as a translator. She eventually went back to Honduras, but felt God was calling her.
“Whenever doors started to close in Honduras, doors would open in Colombia,” Meneses said.
That’s when she met her husband, who led a college Christian missionary and served as a translator. After a few months, they went on their first date. Two days later, they were engaged. They married in January 2016.
The couple will return to the South American country later this month to continue their ministry there.
To learn more about the Meneses’ ministry or donate, go to their Facebook page or https://themenesesincolombia.wixsite.com/menesesincolombia