A Call to Action

Jul 26, 2016

Jess Duncan

STINT: a short-term, international staff position lasting from 3 months up to one year

My adventure to becoming a STINT-er began in the summer of 2015 when the opportunity to intern for Back2Back Cancun, seemingly, fell into my lap. I had other plans of how to spend my summer, but through a beautiful orchestration of events, I found myself on a flight to Cancun to start one of the most impactful summers of my life.

The months leading up to my trip, however, were fraught with an internal wrestling — I had spent previous summers in Monterrey, serving alongside children’s homes, falling in love with the faces and the voices who brought life to those places; going to Cancun meant I would not be able to see the same faces and experience their stories for another summer. Additionally, I could not imagine being called to the community development aspects of Cancun. I did not understand how pouring into a community is intimately intertwined with orphan care.

Oh boy, was I in for a wake- up call.


It was the end of the second week of my internship, as I sat with my journal open, I found myself crying over a gracious God who knows me better than I know myself. I had begun falling in love with the children and families of Tres Reyes and Bonfil, and the prospect of leaving this unfolding story left a knot in my stomach.

But the Lord knew my heart and its needs and was writing the next chapter. Erick and Julie, directors at Back2Back Cancun, invited me back to Cancun to STINT in the spring and I eagerly accepted. I had seen the need and felt the pull to step into what Back2Back was doing in Tres Reyes.

I believed life as a STINT-er would be similar to life as an intern in the summer. The reality is that it took me much longer to readjust to life in Cancun and due to weeks without groups, life there was a bit lonelier than I previously experienced. These stumbling blocks of dependence and people-pleasing are ones the Lord is still working on in me.

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Once I adjusted, I began to see a side of ministry I hadn’t before — the regular meetings, the intense planning and budgeting, the research, and the networking were all aspects I hadn’t considered before in regards to ministry.

I grew to love Back2Back Cancun and how well, and diligently, the staff incorporates the community members and resources to best serve the families of Tres Reyes and Bonfil. Working under Emily Riggs, the program manager at the Community Center in Tres Reyes, I learned what it means to mimic Christ and His ministry, and the value of pausing to sit and listen to best meet people’s deepest needs. Through conversations, daily tutoring, weekly enrichment classes and Saturday Bible classes, the staff is allowing the Holy Spirit to lead to learn and address the needs of people in these communities.

When I think about my time on staff, I’m humbled my co-workers allowed me to take part in planning and serving alongside them. They are the movers and shakers of ministry; they go into the messy places of inviting others into relationships, unaware of the outcome, but trusting God will use them for His glory.

Perhaps the most profound lesson I learned during my STINT is ministry, while aided by structure, happens in the quiet moments when strangers turn into acquaintances, who become friends, who ultimately become family.

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This happens when trust is cultivated and the reality of vulnerability lies in the pulling together over joy, hope, and love.

By listening to where God is leading, by becoming attuned to the whispers or shouts of the kids, by learning from those who pursue wisdom, I have learned hope is not stagnant. It is a call to action. I am so grateful for my time as a STINT and I am humbled to have had this opportunity.

Jess Duncan is a former STINT-er in Cancun, Mexico. It was during her time there she discovered her passion for social justice, vulnerable children, and tacos. She is currently a senior at The Ohio State University, studying English and Sociology. She dreams of, one day, helping urban middle school students find their voices in the world.

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