Her own life-story formed in her a deep compassion for those suffering and a conviction that change is possible: in this interview Oxana Lisii shares about her involvement with OM in her native country, Moldova, where she is part of OM’s relief work. She has a special passion for the ministry among vulnerable girls, helping OM Moldova in organising conferences and camps for these girls, offering education, value and hope to those facing severe neglect, abuse and the risk of being trafficked or otherwise exploited.
Esther: What are your responsibilities in OM Moldova?
Oxana: I manage some of the social projects in the relief department and am also responsible for several of our Elderly Care projects and Day Centres for children. Besides these, I am part of a project called the ‘Freedom Climb’ with the goal of helping vulnerable girls, and I am praying about how I can do more in this area.
Esther: How do OM Moldova’s relief projects meet physical and spiritual needs?
Oxana: As we provide material help we have the joy of knowing that it goes where there is a real need, and we pray that as this aid enters homes, it does so together with the Word of God. Many of the people who receive help ask why the believers are doing this for them and say they feel a relief from their hardships when we come and talk about God. What impacts them most is the fact that they are not forgotten - it means a lot to them that someone entered their house to help them and they no longer feel left alone in their situation. In an environment marked by corruption, where the state does not care for them and they feel forgotten by people, they recognise that God is thinking about them. It is the prayer, compassion and love that accompany these projects that truly make the difference.
Esther: Please tell us more about the Freedom Climb you are preparing for!
Oxana: Though the main activity is climbing a mountain, it is not really about the climb; it’s more a symbolic act of love for people affected by human trafficking. The main goal is raising funds, building relationships and making connections that will help support projects addressing this issue. I will go as a representative of Moldova to share about our ministry among vulnerable girls, about their situations and what God is already doing here; praying that through all this, God will open more doors for this ministry.
Esther: You wanted to participate already this past summer - what happened?
Oxana: I did not receive a visa for the United States, where this particular Climb took place, so I couldn’t participate. When I was at the embassy to apply for the visa, I was prepared to explain my purpose and share about the ministry, but they only kept asking me about my brother who lives in the US, probably fearing I was planning to remain there. But I am happy that in September 2017 I will have the chance to participate in another Climb in Peru.
Esther: After this disappointment, what motivated you to keep going?
Oxana: Coming back from the embassy I was truly very discouraged, but God told me to be courageous, to take heart and not give up. I have seen the hearts, the tears and the pain of the girls who are at our camps. These girls need God’s love; they need these moments at the camps - that’s why I keep on. There were still many times of discouragement later on, but every time God reminded me of what He told me that first moment and so every time I decide anew to go on.
Esther: Why is this ministry for vulnerable girls so strongly on your heart?
Oxana: What motivates me most is my own experience, coming from the same situation these girls’ grow up in, having lived the same nightmares they live. I have suffered much psychologically and emotionally. I understand these young people who are ashamed of their family, of their home situation, of the way they themselves are, and who do not feel they are people equal to others and made by God in a wonderful way. I myself lived with the thought that I am not good enough, and now I want to be an instrument to help them. God has worked wonderful changes in my own life and family, and I want to tell others that this is possible.
Esther: What made the difference in your own life?
Oxana: When God entered my life He changed me, but also made me a door through which His blessing extended to the rest of my family. At that time I had been living in the capital for several years, but God motivated me to return to my family and I lived with them for another ten years. During this time everything changed. My brother turned to God. My father - who used to be an alcoholic - has not been drinking at all for the past 11 years and has changed completely. He is more sensitive and no longer the harsh, crude, violent man he had been. There are still challenges; my parents do not know God yet, their relationship is not easy and my mother is still very much hurt by all she has gone through at my father’s hands. But there have been so many changes and I continue to pray for them - and this is what I also want to tell the girls: Change is possible, and this change can start with them. It is not enough for them to just pray for their parents and wait for the parents to change, if they themselves are not changed - but if they allow God to change them, He can also bring change through them.
Esther: How have you yourself changed through your ministry and your time with OM?
Oxana: I am still in the process of change, but I have become much more open and communicative. I also used to think that missionaries must be exceptional people with special gifts, but at OM I experienced that I was useful and accepted the way I am; I was given second chances and the opportunity to learn, to discover myself, to develop and grow - in ministry, in vision and as a child of God.
Esther: What would you want people to see in you or say about you?
Oxana: When they look at me I’d like them to see a person of God who has a heart for people and for God’s work. I want God’s will, the fear of God and God’s love to be visible in my life; to be a person with God’s Spirit and to leave fruit behind me. I would also like people to see me as courageous and strong. I want to lead a deep and rich life - so that when I am old, I can write a book about it which will be glorifying to God and helpful to build up others who need courage.
Esther: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Oxana: In order to participate in the Freedom Climb, I need to raise finances - funds which will then be used for our ministry. These camps are so important, and I would love us to be able to add more days, to have more time to discuss with the girls and give them a bit more time in this environment where they are safe and loved. I would like to ask people to pray for this and also to consider if they can contribute with a financial gift.
Check http://www.thefreedomchallenge.com for more information about OM’s global movement of passionate women dedicated to freeing oppressed and enslaved women and children all around the world. Oxana and another Moldovan OM worker, Anastasia Belousova, are preparing to take part in the 2017 Peru Freedom Climb. For more information about how to support them, contact OM Moldova.