The OAM trainee scheme
The words of the evangelist John Hawley were never so terrifying as when he turned to me in the middle of Oxford Cornmarket, saying, ‘Are you going to preach now, Simon?’
How is it possible for a nervy, stammering 17-year-old to stand up in Oxford city centre, with hundreds of people passing by, and speak? The apostle Paul had the answer: ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
That first day in Oxford was petrifying, but a day I will never forget. God took control and it was the first talk I did in the open air which was coherent. God brought people to listen and many took John’s Gospels from my hand as I finished.
I remember the joy which filled my heart when I heard of one man in particular who was spoken to after hearing the message. One of the team said, ‘He seemed very close to knowing Jesus as his Saviour!’
By the time I had completed my A-Levels I was weary with education, so I decided to defer a year before going to university. I knew that I wanted to ‘do something for the Lord’ in this year out, but I had no idea what to do.
I looked into many avenues, but my decision was finally settled when the new pastor of our church happened to be a committee member of the Open-Air Mission (OAM) and informed me of the trainee scheme which the Mission ran.
I had spoken a few times in the market place of my home town of Dudley, with others from my church. Little did I realise that the year ahead would take me completely out of my comfort zone.
Within the first days of being a trainee, I realised I had embarked on something which was so contrary to my natural ability and character.
It was an exciting but challenging year, where at times I seemed to descend into the blackest pits and darkest valleys, but the Lord always lifted me out and so often I was brought so close to him.
The year with the Mission turned me upside-down and inside-out. It seemed as if every ounce of theology I knew, no matter how basic, was under scrutiny; everything I had been told was questioned; and everything I thought was fact was challenged.
It was a steep learning curve, but a time where I grew and learnt some invaluable lessons which I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Learning from the workers of the OAM and having the thrill of being able to tell people about the Lord on a daily basis, is something which is an immense privilege and one which warmed my heart.
It is a great joy seeing God at work in people’s lives. I can reel off story after story of those I met, which shows the sovereign and supernatural workings of God. I believe these were just the tip of the iceberg.
It was an unforgettable year and one which I would not change for anything. I would encourage any young man who is reading this article and who is interested in soul winning to consider the OAM trainee scheme.
It does not matter if you think you are not gifted. It is more a case of, are you willing? To find out more, contact the OAM office at [email protected]