Five years ago I attended OneWeekend, the first OneWeekend in all of history, at One Mission Society (OMS) world headquarters. Lucky for me the world headquarters is driving distance from Houghton College, where I was currently in my senior year. It’s a story I’ve referenced many times before on this blog, one I even wrote a little about as it was happening.
The jist of things is that I went to this missions retreat to confirm that God was NOT calling me to be a missionary. I’d mostly decided that simply because I didn’t want to be one. I relinquished one weekend of November to be proven right even if only to myself. Instead, God used two and half days to call me to be a missionary. And He’s given me everything – so how could I say no?
Since then OMS has continued to regularly conduct the program at HQ. During my first year in Australia the Carlsons, OMS Australia/USA missionaries, came to Australia to guide the team through running and facilitating our own OneWeekend. When I got back this year we decided to have it for the second time.
Because of the impact OneWeekend had on my own life, I am willing to put a lot of time and energy into making it happen for other people. Helping to coordinate and plan became a large part of my responsibilities for the first six months I was back in Australia. Since HOPE61 can sometimes slow down, it’s great to have other tasks to turn to. I love having a full plate and many things to do at one time. Keeps me energized…though maybe a little crazy.
Unfortunately I didn’t reach my goal of having thirty participants sign up for OneWeekend this year. Instead God brought twelve, and we as an OMS Australia team were excited that we didn’t know all of them. It’s a big deal that OneWeekend attracted people who are unfamiliar with OMS, since we often draw attendees for any event from a similar pool. Having new people means new connections and new potential missionaries/volunteers/short-term teams and more. There were also a couple of attendees who have been interested but not committed for a couple of years. Having them attend OneWeekend is real progress.
Ian, the OMS Australia director, and I planned that most of the OMS Australia team would take turns facilitating sessions or sharing their testimony. We ran through the curriculum, Skyped with OMSers in America, scheduled and rescheduled. Josie, bookkeeper & admin & married to Ian, and I went shopping for all the supplies and made lots of lists. A missionary and the wife of a former missionary planned, shopped, and prepared all the food.
After six months of planning and promoting we ended up with a group of men and women who, despite being at varying life stages, were all seeking one thing – to know God’s calling for their lives. Their places of calling or potential calling included Germany, Mexico, India, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Types of ministry calling included human trafficking prevention (HOPE61 for the wiiiiin!), church planting, compassion ministries, and medical ministries. I had the opportunity to share my own testimony, what HOPE61 does in Australia and other parts of the world, and why we need more men and women to serve with us.
Attendees and facilitators prayed together and alone. In the mornings and evenings more than one person took the chance to wander the campgrounds and pray, and think. In stereotypical Australian fashion we were also joined by heaps of kookaburras, two kangaroos (Which I didn’t see – in the continued saga of my having not yet seen a wild kangaroo.), one koala (Which I did see!), and even a rare platypus. (Only one person saw that.) There was even a baptism!
I’ll pause a moment and add that some people I meet in the US think that my life is like this all the time; a constant circle of marsupials and other exotic animals. Sadly, no. I live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I look at office walls, computer screens, and people’s faces. (Just when we’re talking.) I do see parrots and cockatoos on a regular basis, which I so love. But hey, that koala spotting was a big deal! And I have never seen a wild kangaroo. They’re not just lying around the sidewalks, people! That picture I showed during my presentations last year was from a zoo! But yes I really do eat kangaroo meat and I buy it from the grocery store. And p.s. everywhere is not the Outback, I haven’t been stung by a jellyfish, and all the crocs are up north.
Anyway…that’s another post for another time. Back to OneWeekend.
We wrapped it all up on Sunday afternoon. It was clear through words and actions that God was calling more than one person to serve Him in missions! The next week Ian and I reviewed what each person had expressed interest in and where they are at in their missions journey. Some are ready to pray about a specific opportunity. Others will probably not be ready for a few more years. I speak from experience – wherever or whenever they are at, God has a plan and a calling for each one. That is pretty exciting.