Finding Her Identity: Summer Intern Grows in Christ

June 30 2017

"I definitely knew about the Bible, grew up with it, [and] was familiar with it, but it wasn't until the end of high school that my faith became personal."

Sierra Steffen, a senior at Purdue University majoring in organizational leadership, is excited to figure out what it looks like to combine everyday work with personal spiritual growth while serving with the Communications and Marketing Department this summer.

Sierra grew up in a home that put God first, but it took her years to recognize that she wasn't fully putting her identity in Christ.

On the evening of her high school graduation, she found herself looking at her pictures, plaques, and trophies, everything she had put her identity into in high school, and she felt empty. She k new she needed to place her identity into something, or more appropriately someone, who was permanent. She counts herself fortunate that she grew up in a household where she knew that Jesus was the answer. Jesus was who her identity should be founded in, so it was on that night that she gave her life to the Lord.

When she felt God calling her to Purdue, she was surprised because it wasn't the type of school she had previously considered. But, God had a plan that involved getting plugged into a good youth group. She reflects on this calling with a laugh now because it has given her "A lot of opportunities to witness to people on campus."

The first summer after her freshman year, Sierra interned in a big city, and she hoped to do something similar after her sophomore year. She wanted to achieve bigger and better things, but she had to come to terms with the fact that God was calling her home for the summer. "God totally changed my heart about going home for the summer. He led me home and closed some doors to make it very clear that's where he wanted me. Looking back, it's so neat to see that he needed me home that summer."

Knowing that God's will mattered most, she fully relied on him while trying to figure out where to go and what to do for this current summer. "I really prayed that his will would be done, and that I would be where he wanted me." Accepting where that would be was hard, but "He definitely knows what's best, and he led me to One Mission Society."

And, with every creative meeting, deep conversation, and coffee break that makes you hold your stomach with laughter, she is reaffirmed of her decision to serve with OMS.

"You're part of the Great Commission here."

Tags: internship, marketing, summer, oms, spiritual growth, communications intern,

​Camp Transforms Persistent Student

May 31 2016

Darina was an outgoing engineering student at a technical university in Kyiv, Ukraine, when we met her six years ago.

She was applying for one of our English camps, which we offer every summer. Darina just wanted to improve her English and have fun at the camp—which she did—but she didn’t get involved in any of our follow-up activities, and we thought she wasn’t really interested in God.

When Darina applied for camp again the next year, we turned her down, choosing to invite new people who might be more open to the Gospel. She was upset, and we thought we’d never see her again.

But a couple of years later, God brought Darina back. She joined one of our weekly English clubs, and God began to work on her heart. We saw spiritual progress and a greater openness to God, so we invited Darina to camp again in 2013. That’s when she really understood the Gospel and made a decision to follow Jesus.

Darina remembers sitting at the evening meeting near the end of camp week, listening to a Gospel presentation—and when it came time to pray, she found herself repeating the prayer without realizing it. When she caught herself praying, she didn’t stop; she just knew it was right.

Since that day, Darina has been growing dramatically.

She’ll sit for hours talking about the Bible and her spiritual questions, and she’s gotten involved in two of our weekly life groups (small group Bible studies), providing key organizational leadership. She has a spiritual gift for pastoring and regularly checks in with various group members to provide spiritual support.

Darina is also active in helping newer believers grow spiritually and has discipled at least three other girls who were saved through camp. She’s what we call an active encourager in this ministry, committed to growing herself spiritually, as well as helping others grow.

It’s a goal of our ministry here in Kyiv to see God raise up many more Ukrainian young people like Darina to become followers of Jesus who want to partner with him in making more disciples. We’re pleased with the progress so far, but we know there is much more God wants to do.

Like Darina, many of the people in our life groups have been saved through our two summer English camps. The camps are a great way for pre-Christian Ukrainians to experience the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit over a multi-day period, which allows God to soften their hearts to his Good News.

Team members from North America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia volunteer just to love Ukrainians and to help them practice English with native English speakers, but God also uses them to display and share the love of Jesus.

Most Ukrainians say that at the end of camp their English has dramatically improved, but most also say that they receive much more than English language skills. Some, like Darina, even make decisions to follow God.

If you would like to partner with us in reaching out to Ukrainian young people, pray about joining one of our summer 2017 teams. You also can join our daily or weekly prayer team, or you can help sponsor a Ukrainian to attend the camp. For more information on how to give, visit https://onemissionsociety.org/give/Ukraine-English-Ministries.

By Randy Marshall, OMS Missionary and Ukraine Field Leader

Tags: camp, english camp, summer, ukraine, volunteer, short-term missions,