I grew up in Reading, PA in a family where Christ was present and glorified and surrendered my life to Jesus at an early age. Maybe what’s not-so-standard is the fact that soon after giving my life to Christ, the Lord called me to serve Him overseas in missions, specifically in a Russian-speaking context. Although it was probably strange to hear a 9 year-old talking about serving the Lord in Russia, it’s something that He clearly placed on my heart from an early age and reinforced throughout the years.
It was on a short-term trip to Western Russia during my time attending Columbia International University in South Carolina that God confirmed His calling on my life to serve alongside His church in that part of the world. This trip was deeply impactful in exposing me to the realities of church planting in Eastern Europe and what daily life can look like for a missionary. In my last year at CIU in 2012, I completed a required six-week internship with TEAM in Odessa, a Russian-speaking city in Ukraine’s south. After the short six weeks, I ended up returning to Odessa that fall to teach English at a local private school, partner with a nearby church, and learn more about what life and ministry in Odessa looks like. In 2015, I joined TEAM and moved back to Odessa, this time as a long-term missionary in the same part of the city, called Tairova.
Two years later, I finished full-time language and culture study. During language school and now since I’ve finished, I have seen God so clearly at work in me and around me. He has brought about relationships with people from the most unexpected places and has provided many opportunities to share Jesus with them. In language school, I saw how God is so faithful to equip us for what He’s called us to, and I’m thankful and excited for what He will do going forward in life and ministry in the years ahead.
Right now, ministry looks like teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in a nearby school and in conjunction with a local church’s Christian English Program. In both locations it’s been exciting to use my gifting in teaching English to build relationships with others and to see God work in them. In addition to teaching a few days each week, much of my time is spent with unbelieving and believing friends, sharing about who Jesus is and walking closely with them as we follow Jesus together. House church is probably my favorite part of life in Odessa, as the people in it have truly become my family. I’m thankful to be a part of this group of believers praying for and serving those around us, that more in Odessa might see Jesus as beautiful and surrender their lives to Him.
Primary Prayer Request:
Please pray that I would stay close to Jesus and listen to His voice daily. Also, pray for opportunities to befriend people around me, that the Lord would bring the right people into my life who are ready to hear about and see who Jesus is.