On Thursday, June 18, four OMS field leaders spoke in chapel, sharing stories about the way their ministries have affected lives all over the world.
Cindy, who leads the field in the South Pacific with her husband Mark, teaches English at a missionary school and shared about a student named Carrie.* Carrie and her classmates have been struggling with grief and confusion caused by the sudden death of several students. Even so, Carrie participated with her school on a spring break mission trip. Cindy shared that in Carrie’s reflection paper about the experience she wrote, “God met me there. He let me know I am not alone.” Cindy then spoke about a Christian girl whose father is Muslim. When the daughter would ask her father questions about his religion, he’d get angry or frustrated. Cindy had the opportunity to speak truth into the lives of this girl and her mother, who is also a Christian. The small family is moving, but the mother told Cindy that she is determined to find a good church to help her minister to her husband. This missionary school and its teachers are having lasting impacts on their students in the South Pacific.
Randy Marshall, field leader in the Ukraine, shared about a young girl who has been attending the English club he and his wife, Shelley, lead at a local university. This student, Anna,* has participated in the club for two years. The English club, which regularly has spiritual discussions, also has an annual summer camp where the Marshalls are able to show and share what it’s like to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. At this camp, Anna made a decision for Christ. She then participated in discipleship with Shelly and another younger girl, but she started to doubt and ask questions. Shelley switched to an apologetic focus to help her find answers. Shortly after this, Anna saw a Christian drama on the street and was given the opportunity to accept Christ. Anna prayed and truly accepted Christ. This time, she has stayed firm through searching answers and even persecution from friends and family. The Marshalls testified to the change they have seen in her and reported with joy that she now helps run one of their ministry’s small groups.
Micah, field director in Brazil, opened his talk saying that he often pops into a local technology store and speaks to the men there who want to practice their English. Through starting mini-English classes, Micah got to know one man, Robert,* very well and also had the opportunity to invite the men to a 20-week Bible study. Robert once asked Micah if he’d ever had an affair. Micah replied that he had not, and Robert answered, “I’ve had several. It’s not good.” At Bible study, Micah noticed that Robert had a lot of biblical knowledge, which he came to find out was because he had grown up in a religious family. He lived a “Christian” life and as a virgin married a virgin. He has a daughter the same age as Micah’s daughter. However, a few years ago Robert’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, and he became angry and turned away from God. In Bible study, they would talk about the importance of confessing sins to one another. Robert was always the one to speak up and disagree. One night, a while later, the study group learned through the Psalms about the unconfessed sin in King David’s life. The next Sunday, Robert went to his home church and confessed to them about his affairs. Micah ended his talk praising God for not only changed lives, but also changing lives.
Field leader in the Dominican Republic, Gail Leroy, shared about the effect of OMS’ human trafficking prevention ministry, HOPE61. Gail spoke about a safe house where 10 young girls are being discipled and finding healing. Five of the girls have gone through baptism classes and have been baptized in the local river. Upon seeing this, the other five girls requested to be baptized as well! The five who had already been baptized have each been paired up with one girl who hasn’t. They are helping each other through the baptism classes, and last Saturday, they all had their first communion altogether.
Gail shared how she has seen them change from bitter and distrusting to sweet and sincere. She said, “We’ve seen them grow in faith. We’ve seen them get along together. We’ve seen them start healing from what they’ve been through.” Gail ended by requesting prayer for a new property because, praise God, they now need more space to help even more young girls.
It was overwhelming to hear the things that God is doing all over the world. As an avid traveler, I am invigorated by these stories of redemption from people of such diverse backgrounds. As I listen to these stories of hardship and victory, I feel my sense of curiosity about the world and its people intensify. I love hearing the missionaries speak; from the lilt of the Scottish accent to the achingly familiar African cadence. I want to know them all, learn about our similarities and differences. Just last week, I met an MK from the Ukraine who likes to sing in Russian and listens to the same bands as me. I know that this burden I feel to know and love others stems from our Creator’s desire to know and love us, his people.
*Names changed for security.
-Laura Jouhnson, Summer 2015 Communications Intern