Mary’s spiritual story begins during childhood visits to her grandmother. She was curious about God and the Bible, but her grandmother told her the Bible was a special book—only accessible to a select few chosen by God. So Mary didn’t even try to read it, believing she wasn’t chosen.
That is … until three years ago when she heard about an English camp offered by the OMS Ukraine team.
She was just finishing her first year at Grinchenko University with dreams of a successful business career and financial independence. She decided the camp would be a great way to improve her English skills.
But Mary got way more than English practice.
She experienced an atmosphere of love and acceptance that she had never seen before. She saw and heard people talk about Jesus like he was easily accessible—and when camp participants discussed the Bible, it came alive and was quite understandable. On one of the last nights of camp, Mary prayed to follow Jesus and experienced a joy she had never felt before. She left camp excited and ready to follow Jesus wherever he led.
But when she returned home, her parents were skeptical, and her friends were closed. She felt a coldness from them and began to question her new belief. She dealt with her questions in the way she always did—by burying herself in work, achievement, and success. And slowly … Mary’s passion for Jesus burned down to almost nothing.
But last Christmas, she responded to an invitation to attend a Christmas worship celebration hosted by the Kyiv Life Group Network, a network of home-based churches started by the OMS Ukraine team. She had rejected many of those invitations before but this time couldn’t find a reason not to come.
Jesus touched her heart again during the worship time. Feelings of joy and love for him flooded her soul again. She made a decision to return to Jesus with a passion and boldness that hasn’t passed away.
Now, one year later, Mary is a key member of the Life Group Network, was baptized this summer, and is boldly sharing with others what it means to follow Jesus. She also joined the summer English camps—but this time as a student assistant, sharing her testimony and building relationships with pre-Christian Ukrainians looking for opportunities to share the Good News.
This fall, she’s been meeting with multiple young women from the camps to discuss the Bible and to help them grow in their relationships with Jesus or to come to know him. She’s even feeling a call to ministry and missions and has started to study at an online Bible school.
Her parents have been concerned, worried that she might be involved in a cult. But after attending a network retreat recently, they realized she’s connected with good people—and they, too, have become more open to God.
Thanks for praying for Mary … that God would use her powerfully as she seeks to share the Good News with those around her.
You can help others, like Mary, have a wonderful camp experience and be introduced to Jesus for the first time. Or give to one of our other seven Christmas projects.