(Photo provided by Keila Viana)

Keila Viana helped to organize an art parade in the main streets of Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

BOGATÁ, Colombia – For Keila Viana, seeing how art can heal wounds deepened her understanding of God and his love during her international service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“I believe that during this time God worked a lot in my life,” says Viana, a 22-year-old young adult from the Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Camino de Santidad, in Honduras.

Twenty-two young people, including Viana, participated in the Young Anabaptist Exchange Network (YAMEN) program August 2014 to July 2015.

YAMEN, a joint program between Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Mennonite World Conference, is for young adults, ages 18 to 30, who are not Canadian or U.S. citizens. The participants must attend an Anabaptist church in their own country or serve an Anabaptist organization.

Viana worked with Let Us Create, an organization that uses art to invite children at risk to heal the wounds that have marked their little hearts.

She focused on teaching art and violin lessons, though at times she also taught English and she assisted with preparing a festival event. A paint brush and a musical instrument helped to draw smiles of hope from adults and children and together carried on a tune for a better tomorrow.

Keila Viana stands with one of the pieces created in her art class.Photo provided by Keila Viana

“God taught me to rely solely on him, and his love is more than enough,” says Viana. “Now I am not afraid of whatever may come in the future because I know it is God who directs my steps and gives me the strength to keep going even in the midst of trials.”

Not only has her life changed, but also her thinking; Viana has learned to see God as a being full of love and mercy. Now she is getting ready to continue her studies and to serve God in her country.

Viana has decided to use the tools she acquired through YAMEN in her church. She will use her free time to help children in her country, teaching them English and music. “I have learned to love with the love that Jesus Christ has put in me.”

Just as Viana’s life changed, many young people who have dared to make a difference in this program have stories to tell about the satisfaction one can find in serving God and others.

In 2015-2016, 20 young people are carrying the message of peace to 13 different countries.

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