For months I looked forward to a mid-October visit from Tom, HOPE61‘s director. I looked forward to talking about the ministry details and challenges that are unique to HOPE61. And I looked forward to doing it in-person with another “HOPE61 person.” Tom came to Australia following a week in South Korea. By the time Tom arrived in Melbourne he had been through a grueling but fruitful week in a culture that sharply contrasts his own. It was good, but it was tiring. Combine this with his and Tonya’s constant labor at the OMS office in Greenwood, and he was not feeling well. Tom came in on a Saturday afternoon and, unfortunately, had to return to America just as Monday morning began. There was time for him to meet a short-term trip traveling to Colombia, spot a few kangaroos, attend church, and have a dinner meeting with me. It was good to see him even for a short time, but I still wished I could spend more in-person time with someone in the same ministry.
I only had to cancel two of the appointments I’d scheduled for the week. The Thailand informational meeting still happened. Shayne, OMS missionary to Chiang Mai, shared with us what it’s like to move from Australia to Thailand. He spoke of his burden for the Thai people to understand that salvation is a free gift from God. Then Bethany, OMS missionary serving with HOPE61 in Bangkok, skyped in to share her plans to work with New Life church in Bangkok. She talked about the beggars and youth on the streets, groups vulnerable to both being trafficked and to becoming traffickers. Bethany is now fully funded (!!) and has a plane ticket for December 4th. Now we pray for a teammate to join her sometime after she’s arrived.
The life group that had invited Tom to speak about how trafficking happens was up for my speaking in his stead. I’d actually visited them once before to share my personal testimony, so seeing them again allowed us to build on the information I’d already shared. I loved hearing them connect the dots.
“Last time you said _____. What does that mean in relation to _____?”
The last day Tom would have been here was Report to the People, affectionately dubbed “R2P” by our resident missionary kids. R2P is an annual OMS Australia event. Supporters and friends of OMS gather to hear how God worked through us in the past year. Only a couple of missionaries, the Susidkos in Ukraine, missed the event. Shayne came from Thailand, David Noy who leads short term trips to Colombia, the Cottons from Spain, and others shared their ministry. It was a little emotional to hear how all our ministries are woven together. In Spain, the Cottons are involved in intervention with trafficking and are keenly aware of the presence of trafficked girls on the streets they walk. They commented on the value of HOPE61 preventing men and women from ending up there. Others spoke about sacrifice. Every person, missionary or not, who has dedicated themselves to ministry understands that type of sacrifice. Good missions organizations are like families. OMS missionaries have their own work, but at R2P I felt we recognized how we’re all working for the same thing. The glory of our King.
A few days after R2P I met with David & Catherine Cotton and their son Joshua to talk about HOPE61. The Cottons and I discussed the differences in our ministries and how we’re all cool with it. As OMS missionaries on a field where HOPE61 would like to work one day, it is good for them to understand what we’re up to. I loved hearing what they’re up to. And each time I am free to speak fervently about HOPE61 and the core vision of the ministry, I am energized in those moments. That’s when I feel the Holy Spirit coursing through me.
Even though Tom had to leave before I could really fellowship with another HOPE61 person, God was looking out for me. As the Cottons and I ended our lunch, Catherine took me aside. She told me that she had recently attended a conference where ministries working in every spectrum against trafficking came together. Catherine encouraged me to make sure I was open with the people I trust, not to hide anything from them, because Satan is happy to target anything hidden in the darkness. Sadness, anger, anything. He’d be glad to enslave the people called to tout freedom.
We talked for just a few minutes, but I was blessed by God’s eye for my needs. Catherine and I have different ministries with the same goal: freedom in Jesus Christ. We’re not meant to partner, but we’re meant to encourage. God knew that I wouldn’t be able to spend much time with someone else from HOPE61, like I wanted. Instead He provided me the chance to spend time with someone else whose heart is bent on justice, which, at the root of it, is what I needed. That’s the kind of God He is.
P.S. Happy news is that Tom was just able to take a week long vision trip to the OMS field in Colombia, sharing about HOPE61 and making connections for future work there! Woot woot!