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Olivia Oleson

My Story

I was very fortunate to grow up in a strong Christian community in the Wheaton area. I was brought up and discipled at my sending church, Community Fellowship, and had an awesome experience growing up in their children and student ministries programs. My interest in learning Spanish began in middle school and I felt God calling me into missions and cross-cultural ministry when I was in high school.

While studying Spanish and TESOL at Northwestern College in Iowa (December ’16) I had the opportunity to study abroad in Seville, Spain. While I was in Spain I learned a lot about the struggle of the Spanish church and the need for people to come to know Christ in a personal way. Throughout those few months the Lord gave me a heart and a burden for reaching the people of Spain with the gospel.

Upon graduating from Northwestern I decided to do a two-year midterm assignment with TEAM in Spain and I ended up back in the Seville area where I taught at an English academy, worked with American study abroad students, and did a lot of relational ministry with Spanish youth. About six months into my first year in Spain I began to pray about serving in Spain for a longer period of time and decided to apply to be a long-term missionary with TEAM.

I was accepted as a long-term missionary in late 2019 and I returned to the States at the end of that year to begin my transition to being a fully-fledged missionary with TEAM in Spain.

Ministry Focus

When I return to Spain I will be working under a local pastor in the Seville area and I will be focusing on youth ministry and discipleship. I will be involved in a variety of activities such as helping to form and lead a new youth group, planning youth programming for regional church events, and being creative and trying to find ways to reach youth outside of the church.

My hope and desire is to help disciple young Spaniards who have been raised in the church so that they can grow in their walk with Christ and become leaders and disciple-makers themselves. I also want to be intentional about trying to connect with youth outside the church and sharing with them the hope and salvation that can only be found in the gospel and knowing Jesus Christ personally.

 

The People

While Spaniards may be somewhat reserved at first, you will find that over time they will open up to you and become very warm and relational people. They are strongly rooted in their traditions and they really know how to enjoy life and live it to the fullest. Spanish culture varies greatly by region and Spaniards are often very proud of their specific region and what is has contributed to Spanish culture and society as a whole. They strongly value family and relationships and it is important for them to remain loyal to those who are part of their inner circle.

With three of the world’s main religions (Catholicism/Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) majorly impacting Spain’s culture and society throughout the last 1,300+ years, Spain has become a very complex and challenging place to reach people with the gospel. This strained religious history coupled with the Catholic church’s rejection of Evangelicals and the rise of Postmodernism has caused many Spaniards to become disillusioned with the Church and organized religion. It is estimated that less than 1% of Spaniards are evangelical Christians and as much as 20%, or 1 in 5, Spaniards identify as atheist or agnostic. It is a spiritually dry place and people desperately need the hope that can only be found in knowing the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Primary Prayer Requests

-Please pray that God would be moving in the hearts of Spaniards and that they would be open to having a personal relationship with Him. Pray that Spaniards would be receptive to the gospel and that they would desire to know more about Christ.

-Pray that there would be a revival amongst Spanish youth and that young people in Spain would come to know Christ personally. Pray that youth within the Spanish church would be bold in reaching their friends and peers with the gospel.