At OM we want to bring Good News to the poor, to proclaim freedom for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. We have 3,500 workers representing over 113 nations in more than 110 countries making up vibrant communities of Jesus followers working among the least reached. We offer GAP Year opportunities from three months to over a year.
1. Hi, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Eilidh, from the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland but I’m currently living in the beautiful town of St Andrews on the east coast, studying English Literature. Most of my time is spent reading (duh), talking (too much), hanging out with friends, and getting involved with musical and artistic projects.
2. So, your gap year… what did you do and where did you go?
Leaving school seemed like a perfect opportunity to take some time out and learn (but in a very non-academic sense!) about the world, God, myself, and others. It sounds quite cliché, but it really is a special chance to get to know yourself more and to grow intensely, especially before entering a setting like university where issues such as truth and identity in Christ can quickly become very blurred. The first half of my gap year was spent participating in work experience, and the second was spend in South Africa with OM, doing their Mission’s Discipleship Training Programme.
3. What organisation was this with and how did they train you and support you?
My gap year was spent with Operation Mobilisation, who serve all of the world in a variety of ways. Their mission statement and vision is “to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached” and they really do strive to do that. Their support was incredible, from the moment I heard of OM and initially contacted them, they were organised and efficient. The personnel department especially helped me through the process, and I also felt aware that I was being held up in prayer the entire time. They also offer excellent training, from a concise orientation weekend to explain everything-OM and to meet people in similar situations, as well as the 10-day GO Conference to prepare you before travelling to your field. Although the interview and application process is long and delicate, it also made me feel more secure in knowing that it is taken very seriously. I also discovered that OM is a small world – I keep finding fellow OMers even since I’ve returned home and it is amazing to know that so many people have been blessed by their own OM experience.
4. What were some highlights of the year?
Some of the highlights of my year were, honestly, the people. My team felt like a little family and I quickly had spiritual parents and sisters whose friendship I still cherish. The teaching in MDT is so well done, and we were able to enter outreaches with a sense of training after having had insights into what we would be facing. Although we had some unbelievable experiences and highlights, the biggest blessings to me were the friendships that I got from it.
5. What were biggest challenges of your year?
Gap years can indeed be challenging – and it’s not all what you see on Instagram!! There may be a long process of organising and planning before taking a gap year, but the challenges and obstacles (finances, visas, travel etc) are worth pushing through and keep praying throughout the entire process. Something which I underestimated was culture-shock and homesickness: it took me at least 5 or 6 weeks to feel completely settled, but that is okay. It can be emotionally very challenging to enter a completely new setting with new people and trying to settle/invest in where you are while also trying to remain in contact with home. There are also a lot of cultural differences to get used to (not only in the culture you are in, but also in a multi-cultural team) but I think it all requires patience, both for yourself and for others.
6. How did the year impact your faith? How did God change you, challenge you, did it cause you to grow closer to him?
The year taught me so many lessons. But one of the most important and also simple ones was the value of reading my bible and keeping sight of the power of prayer: we were busy most of the time, and although we were doing God’s work, it was so vital to still continuingly work on our personal relationship with God. Doing work for God should never replace time spent with Him. Before our daily programme began, we had set-time for personal devotion early in the morning and it was so valuable. Another important lesson for me was the importance of rooting myself in the Bible and preaching truth to myself. It’s key to stay grounded in truth. At the end of the day, if you don’t stand for something then you’ll fall for anything.
7. Would you recommend this as a gap year? Why?
100% yes. I wish gap years were more encouraged as I really do believe that it’s such a good opportunity (before the world of work and other commitments begin) to really get your faith rooted, know what and why you believe, and get to know your own character more. Gap years step you out of your comfort zone, and that is where we are guaranteed to grow the most.