Jacksonville student answers call to help Haitian orphans
Jul 2, 2014
By NICOLE KALIL
“If you feel God calling you to do something, don’t ever say ‘No.’ Do it.” This is the wisdom that is compelling 18-year-old Cynthia Seagle of Jacksonville to spend her freshman year of college at the Cabaret, Haiti Mission formerly known as Cabaret Baptist Children’s Home.
|Cynthia Seagle with Melina Remy (left) and Mary Jo Remy during a trip to Haiti over Christmas break in 2013. Courtesy/Cynthia Seagle|
Seagle, an incoming freshman at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, will leave Aug. 16 to spend the next year working closely with the older adolescent girls at the Cabaret, Haiti Mission. For Seagle, it’s the perfect time to go—before the pressures of school really take hold of her time and attention.
Seagle will be there to help a group of six girls, ages 16–20, transition from childhood into adolescence. The girls will meet with Seagle daily, and she will serve as a discipler, as well as a mentor, to them. Through Bible studies, she hopes to help them grow spiritually as they also get the opportunity to grow developmentally. While many of the girls speak English and some are developmentally on track for their age and school grade, others are lagging behind. The oldest girl, who is 20, is still in the sixth grade.
Each day, the girls will come and “hang out” at Seagle’s place for Bible study and special events, such as tea parties and crafting. Seagle hopes that through these simple activities she can build relationships with the girls and be a positive influence in their lives.
Seagle said the Bible studies will play a big role in helping the girls sort out some of their theological misconceptions. The other activities will be about relationship-building and just having fun.
“The job Seagle will be doing is uncharted territory for us,” said Mike Snider, director of operations at the orphanage.
His hope is that Seagle will be able to help the girls in their daily walk with Christ. Seagle will be working with the girls, who already have gained some spiritual maturity, to help reach those who are not as far along.
Seagle also will travel to different cities in Haiti, looking at how other orphanages and organizations have handled the transitioning of their older children into adolescence, and what Cabaret can learn from their experiences.
This was not Seagle’s original plan for her freshman year of college. After receiving her acceptance to UCF, she was on track to begin her college career.
“I had a roommate, signed a lease and everything seemed to be in place, yet I knew something was missing,” Seagle said.
On her previous trip to Haiti, she felt the Lord prompting her to spend some extended time there. Her upcoming trip will be her fifth.
Seagle sees this time as a way to grow spiritually, as well. Through her different experiences, she is hoping to find out more about who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Her interests include nursing and education, and she is hoping that while she is in Haiti she will discover which path God has ordained for her.
A future in missions is definitely on the table.
Seagle’s father, Pastor Mark Seagle of Mandarin Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said that he and his wife have been praying this for Cynthia since before she was born. Her name means “bringer of light” and they have been blessed to see that she has chosen to bring the light of Jesus to the children of Haiti.
Everyone involved in this new venture agrees that the desired outcome is for all the girls to surrender their lives completely to Christ.
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