Wayland junior helps tear down barriers during summer in Germany
The Berlin Wall is no longer in existence in Germany. But Wayland Baptist University student Melissa O'Brien knows that other walls still exist in the European country.
O'Brien, a junior from Lander, Wyo., spent her summer traveling around Germany as a missionary through Texas Baptist Student Ministries. The 10-week adventure took O'Brien and her four teammates - all students in Texas - to 10 different towns in Germany, where they worked with churches doing youth evangelism work.
"We visited a lot of schools, mainly English classes, where they'd ask us all kinds of questions about America and about Texas," she said. "When they'd ask us why we were there, we sometimes had the chance to share the gospel in the classroom."
O'Brien said the group planned many events for local students in the towns they visited, working with churches to recruit more youth for their ministries. Those events patterned American youth fellowships: lots of food, games and testimonies from the summer missions team and plenty of time to visit with the German students. O'Brien said those times were valuable to their efforts.
"We did a lot of tearing down walls and preparing the fields for planting seeds (of the gospel)," she said. "These students hear about God, but it's all about religion. For the first time, they heard that it's about a relationship too."
An elementary education major, O'Brien said the trip really gave her a first-hand lesson in the importance of relationship evangelism, a process of becoming friends with people and gradually sharing your faith both verbally and in one's actions.
"God really taught me that reaching people for him is a process, and we were doing exactly what he wanted us to do there," she said. "God wants you to build friendships, and once people know you care, that witness will be more real to them."
O'Brien said she first tried to apply for summer missions without a location preference, saying she really didn't care where she went as long as she could serve. But when the application forced her to choose a place, she listed the Germany assignment first because of the job description and her interest already in youth work. She also listed two locations in the United States that involved working at camps.
Shortly after turning in her application, O'Brien said, "God just kept bringing things up about Germany, and I wondered if that was preparing me." She said she now has no doubt that was where she was meant to be for the summer.