RaymondOlivarezRaymond Olivarez participated in SEND North America in its first year (2011-2012). Learn, through this question and answer article, how SEND impacted him and led him to serve in mission and evangelism.

Why did you decide to participate in SEND?
At the time that SEND North America was introduced to me, I was a fairly new Christian but knew that God had called me to become a missionary and evangelist. Josh Humberger came to a city near me (sounds like a movie introduction) and talked about SEND and everything from there on out fell in line, so I knew it was God’s hand at work and signed up!

What did you gain/learn from the SEND teachings?
I am sure that this will be the hardest question for anyone leaving SEND to answer. The amount of spiritual disciplines you get is enough to be worth it. However, that’s only a piece of the puzzle. The knowledge and experience are the two biggest things I guess. I mean, I could try to explain it but unless you’ve done it, you’ll never understand.

What did you gain/learn from the hands-on mission experiences?
An abundance of information was gained from all the hands-on mission experiences. We not only got to see specific ethnos (people groups) in their setting, but also learned how best to serve them. Some of the stuff caught us off guard, but that’s ministry, that’s the spiritual. You never know what to expect, you just have to listen to the calm of God’s voice and trust that He will give you the next move.

How did going through the SEND process with other young adults and a leader benefit you?
It was a vital piece. The people who went through SEND with me became more than friends, more than mentors, they are family. They are still the people that if I ever needed someone to fall back on for anything I know I could count on them. I honestly could not, and would not have done it without them and they are still some of the biggest inspirations in my life.

What did you learn about God in this process?
You know, my initial thought when I read this question was, “What didn’t I learn about God.” but then reality hit that in my limited human mind, I can only understand a fraction of a fraction of who God is. I guess SEND taught me the most important things about God: He is Love, He is Just, He is here, He is Alive, He is God, and He loves to have his children spend time, getting to know Him and Him getting to know His children. And because of that, we get to spend an eternity getting to know Him.

What did you learn about yourself in this process?
Everything from digging up old events that shaped me in the past to why God created me the way He did and the strengths and weaknesses inside of that. I learned that there are specific places that I need to spend extra attention on shaping and others that just come natural, but most importantly I learned how I can serve the best with my gifts and abilities. 

What did you learn about working with other people?
Honestly, coming into SEND I was already an extroverted sales and customer service type of guy. I knew a lot about what it meant working with other people. However, SEND gave me a chance to see things you don’t normally see, God’s hand while working with people. I guess He just has a way of breaking down walls and opening doors you typically don’t have the ability to do yourself.

How were you transformed in this process?
I entered SEND knowing that I was called to become a missionary who serves, loves, and encourages people; and an evangelist who can and will preach the gospel any chance he gets. I left SEND as a missionary and evangelist who preaches the gospel while serving, loving and encouraging the people around me.

What are you doing now and how did the SEND experience prepare you?
As of right now I serve as a marketing/tech director for LifeBridge Church of South Haven. I also helped develop pieces of our small groups ministry as well as some other ministries. I also have started my own media design / media marketing firm, based out of South Haven, Michigan. The SEND experience was a part of this by giving me the knowledge and experience of serving in ministry as well as an abundance of teachings to look back on.

Why would you recommend other young adults participate in SEND?
Persevere. SEND was not an easy thing to accomplish, I felt many times where I wanted to get up and leave. Pack the bags and head out or get the option to vote someone off the island but through all of that, every obstacle, every hardship drew us (SEND Students, teacher, and God) all closer. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

What else would you like to share about your SEND experience?
It was a 10 month period that was priceless. The amount of knowledge, experience, and training that you get out of it is vital and worth every penny. It is truly a ministry where your life can be transformed, your thoughts can be purified, and your eyes can be fixed upon Jesus. It’s a fantastic time to not have to worry about everything life makes you worry about, but really just focus on God.

SEND North America Young Adults are 10 months away from becoming trained missionaries and helping you reach young adults in your church. Contact us to learn more.

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