In short, the Ozark Mountain Encounter (OME14) is a spiritual development program.
Since that can mean a lot of different things, let me be a little less brief: OME14 is an opportunity to grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ in a very focused and team-centered environment for my last summer as a college student. I will spend about two months with about 50 students who have dedicated their summer to God: to learning to study the Bible, to integrating work and faith, and to growing in ministry as an “ordinary” disciple of Jesus Christ. OME14 is essentially a combination of willing individuals and an intentional, focused program which facilitates getting to know Jesus better and living for Him more. Much of that growth will happen in the context of a small team of 3-4 students living, working, and training together — and I get to lead one of those teams!
Why I’m excited about this
Knowing and following Jesus as the Son of God has been the central theme of my life for several years now. In that time, God has shown me that I function best and grow most when, in addition to taking personal time to seek God, I have people specifically mentoring me while I am also intentionally investing my life for others. OME14 is a concentrated dose of this type of community arrangement. I have several friends who went through this specific program and through similar programs, and hearing their stories of team bonding adventures, of personal growth, and of how God used them to impact others makes me really look forward to this summer.
Preempting some of your questions
OME14 is a Summer Training Programs (STP) located in Branson, Missouri, one of several STPs facilitated by The Navigators occurring during 2014. The Navigators is an inter-denominational Christian organization known for a strong focus on discipleship and developing leaders. Check out the official OME14 page for more details.
Work is an integral part of the OME14 experience, with most participants employed short-term at Silver Dollar City, a local theme park that also employs, among others, many international students. I will not be working there, however, because I will be using the time to craft my doctoral dissertation and move towards graduation; having a strong work component is what lets me take the time to participate in this program, so I’m very excited that God aligned all the factors to make OME14 a possibility for me. I’m looking forward to making the most of the opportunity!