While most Bible Institute students dread the harsh winter of Upstate New York, Gina Mayta could not contain her excitement at the dropping temperatures and changing leaves. Born and raised in Peru, she had never seen anything like the late October snowfall.
The everyday challenges of being an international student have not brought her discouragement, but motivation. “Different doesn’t mean better or less, it’s just different.” Because every lecture is taught in English, Gina has to work extra hard to keep up in class and with her assignments. She will often rewatch the daily class lectures in order to make sure she doesn’t miss any information.
“Different doesn’t mean better or less, it’s just different.”
From Peru to New York
While this is Gina’s first time at the New York Bible Institute, she is no stranger to Word of Life. The directors of the Word of Life property in Peru are close friends of hers, and they often spend holidays and quality time together as a family. She grew up going to Word of Life camps and conferences in Peru, and when she was a senior in high school, decided to look into attending the Bible Institute. “I grew up in a Christian environment, I had a Christian home and Christian school, and when I was 4 years old I realized the magnitude of sin. I realized it was a problem and that Jesus paid it all, and I knew I really wanted that in my life, but my life was good. It was through different trials and difficulties in my life that I experienced God’s love and comfort in amazing ways. Alejandro, he is the director’s son, studied at the Bible Institute in Argentina, but he passed away in 2011, so that was very hard for our family. He had such a relationship with God and intimacy with Him, he walked with the Lord and was so passionate about God and His people, and I thought ‘Wow, I want to be like that’, so he was one reason [that I wanted to study God’s Word].”
“I don’t want to see the Bible as just a textbook, I need to enjoy the Lord. Being here has shown me how wonderful God is, and I can’t get used to it.”
Then, last April, a group of students from the New York Bible institute came to Peru on a missions trip. “When that group came, I had the privilege to translate for them. They are really one of the reasons I’m here. Their passion for the Lord, their passion for Peruvians, it was unbelievable. I want to be like that. It was very encouraging to meet them! They were very sick because of the food and everything, but they continued. I was afraid because it was my first time translating in my city, and they told me ‘We can do this! We have the Holy Spirit’, and it was just so encouraging.”
Now that Gina is a student, she is soaking up everything she can learn about God’s Word and ministry. She grew up doing “Hora Silencio”, the Word of Life Quiet Time Diary that is used around the world. “Word of Life is a place for someone who wants to be challenged, and for someone who really wants to know the Lord better and better, no matter if you become a missionary or a lawyer, I think this year is essential.
Word of Life is a place for someone who wants to be challenged, and for someone who really wants to know the Lord better and better, no matter if you become a missionary or a lawyer, I think this year is essential.
I came to deepen my faith. How can you serve a God if you don’t really know Him?” Now, as she sits through five hours of Bible teaching each day, she is seeing Scripture in a whole new way. “I don’t want to see the Bible as just a textbook, I need to enjoy the Lord. Being here has shown me how wonderful God is, and I can’t get used to it.”
Pure joy overflows into everything Gina does, from her job washing dishes to evangelizing on the streets of New York City. “This year has been a crazy, wild, wonderful adventure. It has been amazing. God has taught me through every single class, every single teacher, every friendship, every book, and through His creation. It is so much more than I expected.”
From New York to the World
Gina is hoping and praying to be able to stay for another year. If she does, she will be able to participate in Missions Reality class, just like the students who came to her country last year and impacted her life. “My heart really beats for people who haven’t heard the gospel yet. We are so surrounded by the Word of God and we take it for granted but there are so many people who die right now without knowing the gospel. I want to live for the Lord wherever I am. Three years ago, my best friend passed away from cancer, and then a classmate that same year passed away in a car accident , and then my dad had a heart attack in 2011. Something I really learned is that life is short. Life is so short, and I just want to give my life to the Lord for His service and His purpose. I want to spread His love and hope to people wherever there is a need.”
“My heart really beats for people who haven’t heard the gospel yet.”