My name is Lisa O’Brien.
Throughout my life, God has been developing a heart for people of different cultures: from tutoring students who were learning English while I was a high school student, volunteering in an orphanage in Mexico after graduating from college, serving as a leader on domestic and international trips with student ministries, being an active member of the Short Term Mission Leadership Team at my church, to living as a full-time missionary in Uganda. Well, the journey continues…
I grew up about an hour outside of Chicago, went to a smallish church, and attended public schools. I spent four years in Michigan, at Cornerstone University, earning a degree in Secondary Education. After spending my loan deferment period volunteering and residing at Casa Hogar Lirio de los Valles II in Chihuahua, Mexico, and seemingly endless hours selling shoes at Payless Shoe Source & tutoring children at Huntington Learning Center for two and a half years, God gave me a full-time teaching position. For seven years I faithfully attending high school, daily lugging my bag loaded with papers (some graded, some not yet) and my thermal mug of hot tea to my classroom. I had tenure; I enjoyed working with the staff; I had seen God use me as His tool in the lives of various students, and my job was basically secure.
But I began sensing God calling me to take a step of faith in a different direction. I know it seemed foolish to some…maybe many. Yet, it’s not easy to ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Eventually I asked for a leave-of-absence from the superintendent and school board, so that I could venture off to Uganda for 13 months. When I sought the advice of my pastor about this decision, his response included these words: “you have to stop doing what is secure.” This got me thinking…I had been holding on to what seems
secure to me, possibly to the point of being disobedient to God’s direction for my life.
But really, there is nothing secure about being outside of God’s will.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Well, after obeying, and serving God in Uganda for a year, I began to feel convicted that my time was not up. The security of returning to a job back in America is what helped me have confidence to leave in the first place, but God was revealing that the leave-of-absence was really just His mercy on me in the midst of my weak faith. He was clearly calling me to let go of my teaching position back in America and return to Uganda.
So, that’s what I’ve done.