These past four months have been exciting and disappointing. Exciting because we thought we were a step closer to Muslim ministry, for which we are sure all of you have seen our desire as we have shared in our newsletters. Disappointing because things in Europe didn’t work out as we had hoped they would.
Many of you read our monthly updates on our website and know what we have been doing since our last newsletter. Teen Missions began work in Italy in hopes of having a European base. We went to help start up this base along with plans of pursuing Muslim ministry in or near the Middle East. One of the things the coordinators of the work in Europe, along with us, had been pursuing was a partnership with a ministry that has a wonderful large building, but has no ministry happening. The proposed partnership would bring refugees to this facility and Teen Missions would help run it along with starting a Teen Missions Bible school there. This ministry met with their board members and agreed to the proposal; however, when the full proposal was presented to Teen Missions Board they had some concerns and decided this was not the direction they wanted to go. There was some confusion and disappointment as to why this was rejected which has led the coordinators of Teen Missions in Europe to move on and we decided to come back to Florida.
When we agreed to help start Teen Missions Int’l in Europe we thought that both Muslim ministry and Teen Missions ministry could begin being built at the same time. From what we now understand the Board of Teen Missions wanted Teen Missions work established first and when it was, we (Europe staff) could look into Muslim ministry. As we consider this misunderstanding of the work in Europe, we feel the lack of our understanding falls on us and is no fault of Teen Missions. We realize that we should have asked more questions and should not have assumed we understood before we moved to Italy.
Shannon and I were asked if we wanted to step in as coordinators, but we felt that we should not because our heart was always to help start the work in Europe and then pursue Muslim ministry, not be in charge of running the base. That role should be filled by someone that will be fully dedicated to work there and not have a pull to work somewhere else.
With that said, we felt that it was best for us to return to Florida and look for the best way to serve with Teen Missions at the headquarters there. At the beginning of the year we committed to working with Teen Missions through December and want to fulfill that commitment.
Our greatest desire is for God to lead us according to His Will. I believe God took us to Italy for a reason and I will not call that move a mistake. I will say that the path was not as straight as we hoped it would be. God’s ways are not our ways. I have always thought it would not be incorrect to interpret this to mean that our definition of a straight path is not always His definition. There is always something that we can learn, and a bend in the road doesn’t mean there is no progress.
As we look to God for direction we would appreciate your prayers. God is making opportunities all over the world for Muslim ministry by bringing them to the nations so our options are growing. Europe has seen the bulk of this mass migration and the United States are expecting to receive 10,000 refugees in the next year. Wherever they go one thing is sure, they need to hear the truth of the Gospel and to see the love of Jesus pouring out through believers. We are looking forward to our part in this ministry and look forward to partnership with you.
Together in His Harvest,
Justin & Shannon O’Hara