Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Olivia* returned to Australia last year after serving in West Africa for five years. Olivia served as the Personnel Coordinator for her field, using her gifts to support others to best serve with theirs. She also taught English to adults in an evangelistic English school. One highlight of her weekly routine was spending time with her students on the weekends, cooking, eating and playing games together.
Another aspect of Olivia’s role was serving on the security and leadership teams. Olivia shared, “A big aspect of my job became surveying the security situation and considering the safety of our whole team.” During her last term, the security situation in the country she served in quickly deteriorated. When the impact of COVID-19 hit West Africa, many mission workers in this country, along with Olivia, were forced to make the difficult decision to leave. As countries around the world started closing their borders, there was the risk of the mission workers getting trapped without any means of evacuation.
At the time, Olivia shared, “Pray for our dear teammates, friends and loved ones who don't have the choice to follow us and, are left in a country where war is being waged by both terrorists and a terrifying disease. The last few months have been particularly difficult. Now the world is facing a crisis together. But despite the troubles of the world that dismay and confound us, we serve a God of glorious wisdom, power and grace who rules every moment of every situation. God is in control and, He is good all the time.”
Praise God that Olivia was able to safely leave the field and make it back to Australia. While prayerfully seeking God’s leading for her next ministry placement overseas, Olivia has also been using her gifts to minister cross-culturally through Freedom To Flourish (FTF) in Australia. The ministry seeks to address the mental health needs of refugee and asylum seekers in Sydney who are dealing with trauma. This is outworked by offering free counselling sessions and therapeutic activities, such as gardening and craft groups. Since joining the gardening group, Olivia has witnessed the growth that is taking place in the attendees. She said, “I am really enjoying the opportunity to be a part of this ministry and to build relationships with those who attend.”
Since Olivia started the ministry, a South Sudanese woman named Akifa* has also been attending. Olivia shared, “Initially she was rather subdued. She didn’t smile often and was very timid. She has experienced significant trauma in the past and seemed to still carry this burden each day. Now, however, she arrives at the garden each Friday with a beaming grin as she exuberantly waves and greets the group. She engages happily in the activities in the garden, whether that be working the garden beds or painting under the shade of our Jacaranda tree.” Olivia can see how God is touching Akifa’s life through FTF.
Recently, Olivia has also been able to work alongside Sudanese community leaders and an NGO to facilitate a group for Sudanese women. When Olivia attended for the first time, she wore a dress from the West African country she previously served in. She said, “This outfit immediately created a connection point between me and the ladies as they expressed joy over the fact I had lived in Africa. After formal introductions, the leader of the group welcomed me and spoke about how the fact I had lived in Africa helped us to create an immediate connection. I had tears in my eyes at these words and had so much fun connecting with this group of African women.”
While Olivia waits for clarity on her next area of ministry, she is utilizing her skills and love for cross-cultural ministry here in Australia.
*Name changed to protect identity
Photo: Carsten ten Brink
PRAY: Pray for Olivia as she seeks God’s leading on her next ministry placement overseas. Praise God for the opportunities He has given Olivia during this season of transition.
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