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Gainesville woman to spread Gospel on The World Race
Faith Silva to embark on 11-month mission trip in January
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Faith Silva, 21, holds a garage sale Oct. 30 in Gainesville to raise money for her trip with the World Race. Silva will set off for foreign countries in January and journey to 11 countries in 11 months to serve while among real and raw community with the World Race. - photo by Erin O. Smith

To donate to Faith Silva’s mission trip with the World Race, visit faithsilva.theworldrace.org.

Unworthy, unloved, rejected, depressed and inadequate. Each emotion has plagued Faith Silva at one point or other in her 21 years of life.

But a higher power always came to her rescue. Her prayers have always been answered, but not always on her timeline.

Now, Silva is filled with a passion to minister to others and share her faith with them. The Gainesville woman will accomplish her new goal by embarking on The World Race with her fellow teammates in tow in January.

“Right now, I see everyone has special gifts and something to give,” she said.

The 11-month journey calls for young adults to abandon their worldly possessions and a traditional lifestyle by visiting 11 countries to serve “the least of these” while among a real and raw community, according to The World Race website (www.worldrace.org).

On the journey, participants will complete various tasks ranging from organizing and conducting vacation Bible School and building relationships with orphans to praying for the sick at a hospital or praying for the community, the website said.

Silva decided to embark on this adventure shortly after moving to Georgia in spring 2015. She signed up and pushed her start date to September rather than January. However, two issues were holding her back: the nearly $17,000 needed for the trip and the estrangement between her and her father.

God decided to intervene.

Her older brother visited his mother and Silva in Georgia, before heading to his father’s home in South Florida. Silva felt the urge to cancel her World Race plans and visit her father instead. But she battled that feeling.

“I kept saying ‘I’m not going to see him. I’m not going to see him,” she said, explaining as she tried to convince herself she packed her bags for Florida.

At the last minute, she succumbed to what she said was God’s wish. She then cautiously approached her mother, Carmelita Silva, to talk about her change of plans. Carmelita was pleased with her daughter’s decision.

“She needed to repair the relationship with her father,” Carmelita Silva said.

What started out as a two-day trip to South Florida to  turned into a two-month stay to reconnect with her father.

Carmelita Silva and her husband, Joe Grasso, noticed a difference in their daughter upon her return.

“She had grown and matured,” Carmelita said.

Once she arrived back in Gainesville, Silva re-enrolled in the World Race training with a new mindset.

“The second time (of training) ... everything was ordained,” she said.

She meet her new teammates of more than 30 girls and five boys and bonded with them during their 10 days of training in Gainesville. One night in particularm Silva’s doubts and fears were washed away.

“As we were praying, (one of the girls) stepped up and said ‘I know this is stupid, but I feel like I’m not good enough,’” Silva said, recounting that night. “She was feeling what I was feeling.”

The group gathered around the two girls and prayed. Silva said her “heaviness” finally lifted.

“That night, I slept well,” she said. “The next morning I felt joy.”

Silva plans to use her joy and the experiences with her family during her 11 months abroad. She especially is looking forward to working with orphaned children.

“I feel connected with children and I grew up with abandonment and anger issues,” she said.

The one hurdle Silva still faces is the financing. Silva said since her family has only lived in Gainesville for nine months, fundraising has proved difficult.

She has raised more than $7,000 through garage and bake sales, but the 21-year-old still needs at least $3,000 more by January for a total of $10,000. If she meets that amount, she can embark on The World Race. She added people can continue to donate until April 28 — also Silva’s birthday.

Silva believes she can meet her financial goal and set off on her journey to complete God’s plan.

“God showed me this,” Silva said, explaining she realized God has been pushing her to be “adventurous” and get out of her comfort zone and serve others.

To donate to Silva, visit faithsilva.theworldrace.org.

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