Going Off The GRID to learn about God

written by Ellyn Schellenberg

Moving overseas for ministry is almost never an easy process, and it’s of utmost importance to find the right fit for each individual or family. For some, this process can take years of praying, researching or even just waiting for final confirmation from God.

For Geoffrey and Yuliya, a French couple who had been thinking about going abroad for years, it was only when they came upon information about OM’s Off The GRID (OTG) adventure discipleship programme in New Zealand that they felt they had found the right fit.

OTG, a 40-day programme, is held several times a year for people 18-28 years old who are interested in intentionally deepening their walk with God while spending the majority of their time hiking through the unique and beautiful wilderness of New Zealand’s South Island. Small groups of participants are led by Norm and Christy McCarren, an American couple passionate about helping people take time away from the busyness of life and learn to talk and listen to God in new ways.

“The goal for us was to become more Christ-like in our everyday living,” shared Yuliya. “To leave our comfort zone and learn to witness to complete strangers, as well as friends, neighbours and colleagues.” She and her husband wrestled with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges that come with long days of hiking through mountainous and wooded areas and sleeping in tents or wood cabins with basic facilities. Both were challenged to “discover our real priorities in life.” Through the daily devotions and leadership training provided, as well as God’s creation and the solitude and silence that can be found when life slows down, the couple “heard the Lord speak to each one of us individually, leaving us transformed by the experience.”

At the end of their OTG experience, Geoffrey and Yuliya realised that they needed “to continue to move forward with the Lord Jesus, have new priorities and trust Him completely so as to grow as His disciples.” They are not sure what awaits them when they return to France, but they’ve learned “that we can and need to be missionaries in our everyday life; no matter what kind of work we’re involved in, or what rank we attain, we need to live as Jesus would wish us to live. We are called to serve Him in whatever role He calls us to.”

For more info about OTG email info.nz@om.org.

Two kayakers paddle between rock formations off the coast of New Zealand.

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