OneWeekend HAPPENED. It was fantastic.
If you’re new here, I am a One Mission Society (OMS) missionary. OMS has six “affiliate” countries, or countries where there are headquarters dealing with finances, mail, etc. for missionaries in that region. Those countries are: USA, Canada, South Africa, England, New Zealand, & Australia. When I refer to “the office,” it means the OMS Australia headquarters.
OneWeekend is an event that began at the OMS America headquarters in November 2010. I remember that date because I attended — and that’s when I went from “missions is not an option” to “I’m committed to missions for life” within three days. OneWeekend is, yes, a recruitment weekend. But more than that, it is designed to have some tough conversations.: How can I hear God’s calling? Is He even calling me? What does “calling” mean? What are the options for a missionary? I have a radical dream, but I’m not sure how to pursue it…how can I? And more. The weekend is interactive. There are testimonies, group work, Q&A panel with missionaries, prayer, & creative ways of exploring our dreams. (Drawing on a balloon, “Missionary SIM city,” and more.)
OneWeekend is facilitated by OMS missionaries who genuinely care about the attendees. I remember being impressed that OMS wasn’t just trying to recruit me. The leaders really cared about my realizing what dreams I have and how to hear God’s voice. July 5-7 was the first OneWeekend ever held in Australia. Having the opportunity to go from attendee (nearly 3 years ago!) to facilitator (I am so old.) is a blessing I don’t think I will ever forget.
OneWeekend in Australia was held at Adanac Christian Youth Camp in Yarra Junction. As if you needed it, here is further proof that this is a beautiful country.
Some of my Australian friends came (Kylie, Rachel, & David), along with many people I’d never met before. Ian & Josie were there with the kids, of course, as Ian & Josie helped to lead. One really exciting aspect of having OneWeekend here in Australia is it meant the Carlsons were here! They are OMS missionaries serving Colombia & Ecuador from America; however, Shirley is from New Zealand & Australia originally. The Bongers’s kids, Kia & Kiana, made friends with the 4 Carlson kids last July during Cross-cultural training at OMS headquarters in America. (That’s also how I met the Bongers.) Kia and Kiana have been eagerly anticipating their visit, and of course those of us above 10 years old have also been looking forward to it.
Being in cross-cultural training with a group of people from many countries all preparing to serve God in missions was a special experience. There’s something that makes you tender-hearted when in that frame of mind & preparation state. But there is another special experience, and that’s spending down-time with other missionaries after you’ve been serving.
I know I’ve only been away from my home culture for 5 months, but if you have served I imagine you will understand where I’m coming from. There is a rejuvenation from eating, laughing, joking, with other missionaries while you’re on “the field.” It’s a special renewal that I have not gotten in other situations. For me, that made the Carlsons’ visit twice as wonderful. To be with the Bongers and the Carlsons, two families I love, filled me up so well.
Greg Carlson gave me advice & encouragement (Try new things, don’t just replace your home comforts.) and Shirley and I had a lovely coffee date at the “castle” they’re staying in. She has met with and really mentored me while I lived at OMS headquarters in Indiana, and it was cool to keep up that tradition in Australia.
During our debrief of OneWeekend, it was interesting to note the American and Australian cultural differences. In America, there are more open and perhaps emotional responses. In Australia, those responses were less obvious. For the Carlsons and I, it seemed a little lacking at first. Ian and Josie quickly assured us that they were pleased with the responses, and it was probably just a cultural difference.
There have already been exhilarating stories of a OneWeekend attendee immediately putting faith into action after the event, but they’re not my stories to tell at the moment. But will you please follow-up reading this with 5 minutes of prayer?
There were people who expressed a desire to be in missions but are held back by family expectations, career goals or expectations, timing, and other concerns. For a couple of people, it seemed so striking to us as facilitators that God is calling their hearts nearer to Him, and even to serve Him in missions. Considering where I was and where I am now, it is exciting to think about where these men & women could be in three years!
Please pray that the OneWeekend attendees will
-clearly discern God’s calling
-have the courage to walk past the barriers in their lives
-be encouraged in & blessed by God for their obedience