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Sarah Spellins: Being radical for Christ

Former Christ the King parishioner answered call to missionary work in Minnesota

Published: August 28, 2017   
Julianna Ryburn
Sarah Spellins visits Anchorage, Alaska, during a mission trip with University of Minnesota students in March.

Sarah Spellins admits she didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus when she entered Benedictine College in Kansas.

“I never knew the Lord as a person,” she said. “I always viewed him as an entity.” 

Then she was invited to a St. Paul’s Outreach retreat.

“It radically changed my life. … At the time I had one foot out of the Church … I remember telling (God) this was his last shot with me … I was prayed over by my small group and the Lord powerfully touched my heart and claimed me as his daughter.”

Instead of following her dream to be a high school English teacher, after she graduated in May 2016 the Lord had other plans for Spellins. The former parishioner of Christ the King in Little Rock discerned a calling to be a missionary with St. Paul’s Outreach, a Catholic college ministry based in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. After raising the funds to sustain her for one year, she was assigned to the University of Minnesota where she worked with other mission leaders ministering to 30,000 students.

“We are all called to be radical for Christ,” she said. “That gets buried sometimes and we get comfortable in the ideals society puts on you.”

As a mission leader for the 2016-2017 school year, Spellins lived with Catholic young women and led them in a Catholic formation program and prayer. SPO missionaries also focus their outreach on getting to know the students through their regular activities, such as football games and eating lunch in the student union.

“At first it was really difficult,” she said. “I’m not qualified, but the Lord is asking us to trust him … It’s been a gift, but it is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life.”

After she completed her first year, she felt a nudge to agree to another year in Minneapolis, this time being a household leader. “God is my boss,” she said.

Beyond this school year Spellins, 23, said she will continue to follow God’s will.

“Maybe one day I will be called to teach,” she said.


• If you could be any saint, who would it be?

“I would want to be St. Joseph. He really embodies what it is to absolutely die to self … He was such a gift of self. I would love to be better at the humility thing.”

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