Practical skills, purposeful life

written by OM International

In the basement of the OM office in Tyrone, Georgia, several large printing machines produce materials that are sent around the world: prayer cards, ministry magazines, financial appeals and more. Randy Jury, a worker who oversees the printing process, nodded affectionally toward one machine on a quiet Friday morning: “We’ve got that green monster there that everyone’s afraid of,” he joked. Rather than scare him off, that machine—and the others—provide Randy a place to serve in his element.

“I enjoy doing stuff with my hands, working with equipment,” he explained. “I’m thrilled I can have a part in ministries around the world, helping communicate their vision… so they can concentrate on reaching those who don’t know about Jesus. It’s important, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of it.”

All hands on deck

When Randy first heard about OM, he traveled from his home state of Pennsylvania to Genova, Italy, on a self-funded six-week stint to use his practical skills onboard OM’s ship, Doulos. “But then I just fell in love with it,” he said. Forty-three years later, he’s never looked back.

Randy’s first job with OM was welding on both Doulos and its sister ship, Logos. His skillset, developed from a previous seasonal construction job and honed onboard, was crucial to the ships’ operations. Later, for a number of years, Randy oversaw the project team, which included welders and carpenters. “Doulos was old, there was a lot of rust, so we’d go into an area that had been condemned by the surveyor, take everything out and put in all new steel,” he remembered. “I learned a lot from those tradesmen.”

During his time with the ships, Randy also met and married the love of his life, Jaana, a Finnish woman and fellow shipmate. The couple continued to serve onboard for the early years of their marriage and had their first two sons, Daniel and Mikael, while living at sea. “I thought ships forever. We never even thought of going somewhere else,” he said.

In 1988, the young family spent some time in the US, helping the OM office relocate from New Jersey to Georgia. Then they returned to the ship. But in 1992, Randy and his family moved back to the US so he could take on the operations manager role for the growing OM office there. That position changed rapidly as the office expanded, with Randy eventually overseeing the reception desk, the print shop, the mail center, the bookstore, facilities and maintenance. “It was too much,” he admitted. “I couldn’t do anything well because I had too many responsibilities.”

Leadership listened and began appointing other people to manage some of Randy’s responsibilities. Now, Randy, who will be 65 years old in March 2021, concentrates on mailings and printing, along with another team member. “It’s enough,” he said.

“I’m a doer and am practical with my hands, but I’ve learned and I’m still learning that God’s not as much interested in what we do as He is in our heart and our relationship with Him,” Randy shared. “I can easily work from sun-up to sun-down, but it’s so much more important to spend time with the Lord.”

Family of faith

Sixteen years ago, Randy repurposed his practical skills into a side business to supplement his OM support. He began taking on handyman jobs as well as kitchen and bathroom renovations in order to earn enough money to pay for his four children’s college educations. “I was really motivated to do that because, especially with Samuel and Emily (his two youngest children), I knew they both wanted to go into full-time ministry. I saw so many examples of kids wanting to go into missions, but they have a huge debt and can’t go until they pay that down. I wanted my kids to be able to pursue their dreams,” Randy explained.

Although raising funds for support continues to be a challenge, due to existing supporters passing away coupled with increasing living expenses, Randy has seen God’s faithfulness in providing for him and his family. “Probably at least half of our support comes from ex-OMers, people I’ve worked with either on the ship or here in the US,” he shared. “It’s not just about raising money; it’s about building a team and sharing your heart with people.”

Now, he’s seeing his team extend their support to his children who are presently involved with different ministries: “A lot of people that have supported us are supporting them,” he said.

Three of his four children served with OM in some capacity, and, in 2021, Randy’s son Samuel and his wife, Kaelyn, along with their four-month-old son, plan to move to Kenya to serve with BlueSky Global Ministries; while his daughter, Emily, and her husband, Mark, will move to Finland to serve with OM. “Both sides of my family have a lot of OM heritage,” Randy said. “It’s very meaningful to me seeing my kids wanting to serve the Lord.”

Everyone can share God’s love

Of course, sharing God’s love is not limited to those serving with an organization. “Whatever skills God gives you, there’s a place for them if you want to serve,” Randy said.

“Everybody can be a missionary where [they] are…. There are people around you all the time that need the Lord,” Randy reminded believers. When his family moved to Georgia, they felt insulated in a bubble—working at OM and attending church. But then his kids got involved in baseball and Boy Scouts, so Randy started coaching and helping with the Scouts.

“There were a lot of non-Christians I rubbed shoulders with,” he remembered. “Just live your life in front of them and look for opportunities to share. If you’re not looking for those opportunities, they’ll pass you by, but there is definitely a need in this world, now more than ever, to show love.”

United States: USA Print Operations Specialist Randy Jury using his skills to serve God in a basement print shop. Photo by Adam Hagy.

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