Millennial Anna: Breaking the Chains

August 30 2016

This is part 2 of a 5-part series of stories about millennials working in missions with OMS. This is part two of Anna's story. Anna served with OMS for two summers with HOPE61, our human trafficking prevention ministry.

I have such a heart for justice and development. I am deeply burdened by the issue of human trafficking, specifically because I know there are vulnerabilities that could have been eradicated through prevention. I feel for the marginalized, the impoverished, those chained by the sins of addictions. The Lord has angered my heart about the ways in which the enemy has stolen life. I desire to see the glory of God bring freedom to those in bondage of oppression. I desire to see them free.

Why? Because I know it is possible, and this is the will of the Lord. I don’t just want to see those who have fallen victim to abuse to be set free, but the abuser as well to come to be a new creation through the resurrection power of their Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s amazing, the Lord gives you a passion, then the refinement comes … and the passion you thought you had at the beginning takes on a whole new, deeper look, one that you know you could not have understood or thought of on your own prior to the Lord’s renewing of your heart.

During my time in the DR, God taught me how to work in community. He gave me a deeper understanding of the Gospel. He gave me tools physically and spiritually to fight the good fight. Through this OMS internship, I learned more about what I believe, what it means to have faith, about the issue of trafficking, what it looks like to work in ministry, and what it looks like to do mundane and super-intense tasks. God is working in my life by drawing me closer to him and equipping me for now and for what is to come. And I get to work alongside his family, knowing and experiencing the different members of the body. I get to know him deeper as he loves me.

My favorite part of this whole experience was getting to explore more of the culture and the country and to bond with the people as I learned their stories. I have met people from different Latino countries and also many Dominicans. But the best part has been getting to dive deeper into the Lord and his will for my life, experiencing his refining, challenges, and love in a deeply life-transforming way. But at the same time, that can also be the most challenging part. There is a language barrier. There’s spiritual warfare and moments when you are just reaching around in the dark. But the renewal of our minds needs to happen daily. The armor of God is our battle weapons, and reminding yourself of who sits on the throne is key.

It’s been hard to see the poverty, to feel internal and external warfare. It’s been challenging to have the Lord dig up roots that choke his fruit. It’s been challenging to live by faith when you see the drugs, the prostitution, and sexual immorality on all levels. It’s been challenging to make friends with those who do not speak the language. But we have a hope that will never let us down. Jesus brings light to the darkness. We may be hard pressed on all sides, struck down, but we are not abandoned. And it’s weird that among all these challenges, the Lord’s joy has been overwhelming; his peace, strength and provision have been abundant. And when we see drug addicts dedicate their lives to Christ, women who have engaged in prostitution learn that God loves them without strings attached, when you see children fed and dance in full worship to the Lord, when you see families being restored, when you see individuals realize they have the capacity to implement their ideas through entrepreneurship and ministry, it is more than worth going through this temporary pain and trouble. It may seem to be happening slowly, but God is reaping the harvest.

God’s children are being delivered from drug and alcohol addictions, from prostitution, from sexual sin, from homelessness, from marginalization, from starvation, from broken relationships, from fits of rage, lies, stealing, and the list goes on. He is bringing hope and a home in him. He is bringing healthy community and Christ-centered relationships into the lives of others in the Dominican. It is definitely a process, and it can even get very discouraging at times. But when you see amazing breakthroughs, you are deeply encouraged, even if they are small. I’ve seen God work by bringing people to their Savior and choosing to live a life for him.

God is so good, and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. And writing this, I am convicted, because as his spirit overflows my soul with hope, challenges are real. The battle is real. But we have the ability to set our mind on the everlasting, eternal God.

Tags: human trafficking, compassion ministry, youth in missions, dominican republic, justice, millennials,

Missionary Stories from Around the World

July 2 2015

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

Tags: ukraine, brazil, dominican republic, south pacific, evangelism, missions, missionary stories,