SNYDERSBURG — A desire to teach others about Jesus and Christianity has led Tom Harbin to pursue a missionary trip to Australia and Fiji this summer.
The 15-year-old student at Carroll Christian Schools in Westminsterhopes to spend four weeks handing out literature on street corners and counseling students his age.
"This is definitely not a vacation, it's going to be work," said Tom, the son of Sue and Ed Harbin. "I just felt I wanted to talk to people about the Lord."
The program, sponsored by Word of Life -- aone-year Bible college in Schroon Lake, N.Y., with teen-age religious programs in churches -- gathers students from across the United States and Canada to minister in foreign countries during the summer.
This year, teens will be traveling to Kenya and Mexico, as well as Australia and Fiji, to work with Word of Life camps.
"There are 50-some camps all over the world," Tom said.
On July 20, Tom will meet the 35 other students in his group at "boot camp" in New York. Oncethere, students will organize their talents into a show and will be trained in street ministry.
Students also will learn to work with their peers in the schools. Since the Australian seasons are the reverse of the United States, school will be in session.
"Tom plays the saxophone, and they will put his talents together with those of theother kids," said Sue Harbin. "They train them how to work with the kids."
After a week preparing, students will spend seven days in Sydney, Tom said. They then will spend a week in Fiji, travel to Hawaii to work with Word of Life camps there, and finally return to Australia.
To prepare for the trip, students are asked to read about earlier missionaries and memorize passages from Romans, Tom said.
"Wewill be working with our Bible, but they wanted us to have the verses fresh in our minds," the 11th-grader said. "It's pretty much a prayer for the people to ask Jesus into their hearts."
However, ministry is not an unknown experience to Tom. Each Thursday, he and other teens from the Church of the Open Door in Westminster hand out pamphlets door-to-door in neighborhoods in Baltimore and Carroll counties, as well as area nursing homes.
"It's definitely been good experience for this trip," Tom said. "I've had hard problems, like some rude people, so I know how to handle it."
Tom said that although many missionary programs are open to Carroll County students, he chose the Word of Life program because he wanted to work with people instead of doing physical labor.
"In most of the other programs, you build buildings and are not dealing with people," he said. "You help a certain church but don't really get to talk to the people, except for maybeteaching some children some songs."
To go on the $2,800 trip, Tomneeds to earn about $1,500 more before he leaves. The family alreadyhas sent out a support letter to people in the church and sponsored a garage sale to raise money.
"We're going to send out another letter to the same people and tell them how things are going and ask them for more financial aid," Tom said. "We might also have another yardsale."
Money does not go to the family but is sent directly to anaccount in Tom's name at the camp in New York. In the event he does not earn the full amount, the organization keeps the money until Tom applies to go on another missionary trip.
But Tom said he is certain he'll be in Australia in a few weeks.
"I think I'll be going," he said. "I just think that I will."