Zion Alumnus Shares the Love of Christ in the Dominican

Teachers Influenced Rachel Powell’s Faith

“Since I was a child, I thought it would be amazing for my job to essentially be telling people about Jesus,” missionary Rachel Powell says.

She now lives that dream, serving in the Dominican Republic training deaconesses to share the love of Christ with others.

Rachel, who attended Zion Lutheran School from kindergarten to the eighth grade, credits her time spent at Zion Lutheran church and school as instrumental in shaping her faith and giving her the building blocks for a life of ministry.

“The faculty and staff were always encouraging and taught me to be creative and to appreciate who God made me,” Rachel says. “I received a Christ-centered education that was modeled not only in words, but also through the actions of my teachers. Everything I learned about Christ at home was reinforced at school and expounded upon. Without the mentorship and loving service of my teachers at Zion, I may not be serving the Lord in the same capacity today.”

Rachel is currently assisting in the establishment of a deaconess training program for women in the Dominican Republic.

“The main goal of my work is to teach, mentor, and raise up Dominican deaconesses who have a strong foundation of Biblical knowledge, confidently share God’s love through mercy projects in their congregations, and point others to God’s gifts in His Word and His Sacraments.”

Rachel teaches practical theology classes, Bible studies and mentors the Dominican deaconesses as they serve their communities. Although the Lord paved the path to being a deaconess through college, conferences, and a short-term missionary internship in Peru, the foundation for her calling was spurred on by the investment of family, church, teachers, and mentors who shaped her life early on. Rachel credits two teachers who made an impact on her while at Zion Lutheran, Mr. Risch and Mrs. Salemink.

“While I was blessed to study under many wonderful teachers, Mr. Carl Risch and Mrs. Heather Salemink stand out to me in particular,” she adds. “Mr. Risch’s enthusiasm for the gospel and for his students to learn to think for themselves left quite an impact. Mrs. Salemink invested the time and effort to talk to us seventh graders with Christian love, honesty, and always had an ear ready to listen. Especially at that formative age having a mentor like her, even for one short year, was an incredible blessing. In particular, she encouraged me to consider a vocation of full-time service in the church.”

Rachel also has many fond memories at Zion, including sports opportunities and small class sizes. But ultimately it was the Christ-centered education that impacted her the most, increasing her faith and giving her the foundation she needed for ministry overseas.

“I learned during my time at Zion what it means to be a Christian and to live that, even when it’s not easy. I learned to embrace who God has made me and to cling to my baptism. I gained confidence in my skills and in the gifts He’s given to me. A desire to serve sparked in my heart during my time at Zion.”

Rachel looks back at her time at Zion and is thankful for the teachers who invested in her.

“I praise God for the faithful Lutheran pastors, teachers, volunteers, and other staff who have poured Christ’s love into the lives of countless students like me,” she adds. “Your service in Jesus’ name is not in vain! It is a school that offers quality education while teaching its students about the greatest treasure of all—salvation in Christ.”