OMS has been part of my life for a long time, and also featured prominently in the life of our church, and in 1986 I joined a youth team to Spain. I qualified as a nurse and midwife, thinking of missionary work with OMS. However, opportunities for medical work were limited at the time and the doors seemed to be closed.
I met my future husband, Bob, and some years later started an OMS prayer group, initially to pray for an OMS/IEB outreach at the annual Croagh Patrick pilgrimage. Over the years we have enjoyed the fun and fellowship of the OMS annual conferences and have got to know many of the OMS missionaries and staff . We were particularly impressed with the vision that Melvin and Sharon Kelly had to start a charity shop to provide funding and vocational training for pastors at the Mozambique Bible Seminary and their families.
Some years later, a prolonged period of ill-health following a 4 year career break to spend time with our children, meant that I had to reconsider my options for work. I began to feel that God had something different for me to do and I remember praying one day, feeling a bit desperate, “Lord what can I do?” My illness progressed over the next 21 months and I needed surgery after drug treatments failed. Less than a week after my discharge from hospital, Bob was admitted to hospital. During this difficult time we really appreciated the support we received from our OMS family and our church.
Following a period of recovery, I took some items to the Girassol charity shop in Antrim. Soon afterwards, I thought “What about a shop like this in Cookstown, our nearest large town, promoted by the local council as the “Retail Capital of Mid-Ulster”. The thought wouldn’t go away and I mentioned it to Bob. He was supportive and I also received positive responses from many others. As I continued to pray for God’s guidance I became convinced that this was His leading.
We were offered the opportunity to work under the umbrella of TLC (Transforming Lives & Communities), the charity that the Kellys set up to oversee the running of the Girassol shop. We took this as further evidence of God’s leading and, after more prayer and reflection, we accepted the offer. God provided the means and support network we needed to get the shop up and running, and we are very thankful to everyone who gave us support during that time.
I began to think about which OMS project to support and it became clear that the Kellys’ project had been able to achieve many things through funding, but Steve and Helen Cosslett’s MEFI ministry in Mexico City had a large deficit. This ministry has always been close to my heart since seeing pictures of young children scavenging from bins or living on rubbish dumps in order to survive. MEFI exists to help children and young people living on the streets.
We opened the TLC shop in Cookstown in April and God has really helped us. He provided a team of great volunteers who helped with preparing the shop for opening, some of whom continue to help with the daily running and we have experienced steady trading over the past months and look forward to funds being transferred to the MEFI project very soon.
Part of the ethos of TLC is to be a witness, not only overseas, but also in our home town, and we have free Christian literature available. We try to build relationships with customers and provide a listening ear. Many of our volunteers speak of how helping in the shop has been a blessing to them in their own lives.
Bob & Christina are leaders of the OMS Cookstown Prayer Group and Christina manages the new TLC shop.
If you could help in any way by praying, donating (clean clothes, jewellery, accessories, household goods, furniture and bricabrac would be most welcome) or volunteering in the Cookstown shop, Christina would love to hear from you.
email firstname.lastname@example.org ;
M: 075 1002 2034.