Emily Ogle, a Cleveland native, recently returned home from a six-month mission trip that almost didn’t happen. The 23-year-old traveled with the organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM), …
Emily Ogle, a Cleveland native, recently returned home from a six-month mission trip that almost didn’t happen.
The 23-year-old traveled with the organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM), which is headquartered in Kona, Hawaii, and now has hundreds of bases spread throughout the world. Her mission journey was to take her to Nepal.
Ogle explained her interest in the organization sprung from one of her friends who had been on a YWAM trip and shared her experience.
YWAM has certain “schools” that people can choose to journey with, each using a different set of skills to further the Gospel. The one that most attracted Ogle’s attention was meant for photographers, video experts and other media experts. It was called Fire and Fragrance.
Initially skeptical of the trip since she had no idea how she’d fund it, Ogle received a message in February from a friend who was two months into her own mission trip. It encouraged Ogle to seek God’s will to determine if she should go on a tript.
“Since this was such a huge risk, I was asking God to make it undeniably clear that going on this trip was what He wanted me to do,” she said. “Then all of a sudden, a car drove in front of me with a Kona, Hawaii, license plate here in town. That was my sign.”
Through prayer, Ogle said God told her everything about the trip would be resolved at the last minute and would serve as a test of faith for her.
This proved true, as paying for the trip was a daunting task, and numerous unforeseen circumstances like a car breakdown, car wreck and plumbing issue happened during thefundraising period.
The Fire and Fragrance mission trip is separated into two phases of three months: a lecture phase to teach and train missionaries, and then the actual outreach portion.
“You can’t give love if you don’t have it, so the training ensures your heart is in a good place,” she added.
The day of her flight, Ogle didn’t have all the money necessary to start the lecture phase.
She said God simply told her to “go,” so despite her own fears, she did. Upon arrival, the YWAM administrators told them they were extending a grace period to all missionaries to give them a little more time to reach the minimum payment. It just so happened the minimum was exactly what she had. Later, one of her friends felt led to give her $500 and another person randomly sent Ogle $1,000 through PayPal, which paid her dues in full.
“I was floored. It was an answer to my prayers,” she said.
Monday through Friday, the students attended class and had free time on the weekends along with church services.
To give the missionaries a sense of being a servant, they all were assigned work duties. Ogle drew breakfast duty.
She describes this trip as an “introvert’s nightmare,” as the school’s group was the largest in YWAM history; but she says she treated this as another method of God challenging and strengthening her.
Each week had a different theme, such as “The Father’s Heart,” to prepare the missionaries for outreach in different ways.
The lecture phase took place at the YWAM facility in Kona, Once this portion was done, the missionaries set out for Nepal for the first phase of outreach. Based in Kathmandu initially, they also lived in Pokhara and Janakpur.
While in Nepal, the missionaries had to refer to themselves as tourists, as you can be arrested for evangelizing. Someone leaving their faith in Nepal is considered essentially abandoning their entire culture. Interestingly, you can tell people about Christ; but if they convert, you are at fault. This point was driven home after Ogle was almost arrested in Janakpur.
“We did a lot of good there. We ministered and loved on people. We also helped build a house for former addicts. Drugs are very common. It’s because there’s so much depression over there that a lot of people want to numb themselves. The spiritual warfare was very overwhelming,” Ogle said.
Despite the law, her group led worship on the steps of a temple at one point. Since they’re Westerners, the YWAM missionaries immediately attracted attention.
She explained some nights were humorous and full of laughter, while others were more somber and heavy depending on their circumstances.
While in Nepal, they stayed in different locations depending on what city they were in. Sometimes they’d stay in guest houses, other times at local churches. She said while staying in Pokhara, they would often hear the gunshots locals were firing off to scare away curious tigers interested in the livestock.
When their time in Nepal had concluded, they flew to Orlando, Florida, for The Send, which was a large stadium gathering serving as a catalyst in the mission movement. For The Send, missionaries would attend different preaching, worship services and speaker sessions from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Topics ranging from community outreach to adoption and foster care were covered.
“In the first lecture phase, I got such healing and breakthrough in a lot of areas of my life. I became more of the woman God designed me to be. Then, being immersed in this culture that’s so different from my own, it was just really humbling. I realized the opportunities I had growing up. I was thankful I grew up in a place where Jesus was known. A lot of the people in Nepal had never even heard the name of Jesus,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how these people who have nothing are the ones to offer you everything they have.”
Ogle encourages everyone to follow their hearts, as some will be called to take a trip like hers while others are meant to remain here. No matter how you do it, though, she said to spread the love of Christ in as many ways as you can.
For more information on YWAM, follow it through its Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube or go to its website www.ywam.org.
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