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Grace Guides Hornocker in her Dream of Becoming a Missionary

Interested in becoming a missionary. Discover the Grace College School of Ministry Studies. Apply today to get equipped for ministry.

Kate Hornocker, a Grace College senior from Sweetser, Indiana, has dreamed of becoming a missionary since age 9. Missions work has been intertwined in every part of her story, from reading a missionary’s biography to missionaries speaking at her church to volunteering at a summer camp in France. God has used all these things to stir Hornocker’s desire to dedicate her life in service to the Gospel.  

Hornocker first learned about missions work in the library of her church camp as she read the book “Kisses from Katie.” Katie Davis Majors, an 18-year-old girl who dropped everything to serve in Uganda, pulled the heartstrings of nine-year-old Hornocker. She was fascinated by how Katie went against social norms to love children in Africa. 

Hornocker’s heart for the nations was stirred again when a woman in her church was commissioned overseas. She was the first missionary Hornocker met who was unsure of their safety. She spoke of how she would be highly persecuted and was uncertain of her return.

Hearing this, Hornocker wanted to model this willingness. “I immediately felt a pull to do something dangerous — a strong desire to risk my life for Christ,” she said. 

As a senior in high school, Hornocker was unsure of what becoming a missionary entailed or how to get started. So, she prayed for opportunities. That year, doors opened for her to run cross country at Grace. Coach Poyner reached out to Hornocker and she scheduled a visit. “I only needed one college visit and one college application. I was sold,” she said.  

Hornocker decided to major in youth ministry, but after a semester in the major, she felt it was too specific for her intended goal of becoming a missionary. 

“I didn’t want to narrow myself in,” she said. “I wanted to prepare myself with Biblical knowledge and learn how to evangelize.” 

So Hornocker changed her major to biblical studies with a minor in business administration

One of the most impactful opportunities for Hornocker at Grace was its Conference on Mission. This week-long conference brings representatives from more than 40 missions organizations to campus to share and teach at seminars, chapels, and growth groups about what God is doing in the world.

“I saw missions week as a job fair,” said Hornocker. 

Fittingly, through the conference Hornocker connected with Greater Europe Mission (GEM), which landed her a job at Camp Des Cimes, a small church camp in the French Alps, the summer of her freshman year. 

Hornocker was amazed at how passionate the campers were about their faith. The more time she spent with the French high schoolers, the more her love for France grew.

“1.2% of the French population claims to know Jesus,” Hornocker explained. “And yet, the high schoolers are more on fire for God than anyone I have met in the United States. I love how hungry they are for Jesus and the raw, true Gospel.” 

Returning to the U.S. her sophomore year, Hornocker wrestled with continuing her education. Her heart was in France, and she felt like she wasn’t doing enough to answer her call to missions. 

One day at chapel, a missionary named Ryan spoke about his dangerous experiences in the Middle East doing missions work. She was in awe of the way he spoke. He even referenced Isaiah 6:8 – a verse that played a vital role in Hornocker’s pursuit of missions. 

“It felt like everyone in the room disappeared, and it was just me and the Lord,” described Hornocker. “It was the clearest I have felt his presence.” 

Hornocker met Ryan and his wife for coffee and felt encouraged by their challenging questions. They encouraged her to consider what missions meant to her. She gained more confidence in evangelizing after receiving more guidance. “My dream of becoming a missionary was no longer just a dream. It was reality,” she said. 

The summer after Hornocker’s sophomore year, she returned to Camp Des Cimes. But this time, she began to feel homesick and alone. “The awe factor went down a little bit as I was getting back into what God was calling me to do,” she said. 

Yet, because of this discomfort, Hornocker knew God was preparing her heart. She felt that God was showing her every side of missions work — the good and the hard. 

With graduation nearing, Hornocker is going through the missionary application process. She hopes to be sent back to France through GEM so she can share the Gospel with those who have not heard it. 

Even though Hornocker dreamed of moving across the world while sitting through her lectures, she has no regrets about her education. Now she knows, had she not come to Grace, she wouldn’t have discovered her passion for France. 

“To anyone interested in becoming a missionary and wondering if you should go to college, pray about it and trust that the Lord will lead you,” Hornocker said. “Decisions don’t keep God from moving. You can’t go in the wrong direction when you have Him on your side.”

Are you interested in becoming a missionary? Learn more about our biblical studies major, our intercultural studies major, and our Bible translation major.  

Interested in becoming a missionary. Discover the Grace College School of Ministry Studies. Apply today to get equipped for ministry.
Tagged With: Christian College, School of Ministry Studies, Student Stories