roperability is a key characteristic of Olive Branch International, as well as of military forces worldwide. The word refers to the ability of different military organizations to conduct joint operations. This means that forces, units, and systems team together to operate. Major military deployments consist of interoperable forces and each part shares a common aim, has common doctrine and procedures, uses each other’s infrastructure and bases, and are able to communicate with each other. Generally, the word implies “sharing, cooperation, working together for a common aim.”
Just as interoperability is crucial for successful military operations, it is crucial to the environment that OBI ministers in. Military Christian organizations can be interoperable, and so can their volunteers and staff. Interoperability can take place internationally and nationally.
The characteristic of interoperability was evident with OBI even before the organization formally existed. The team that Bruce Kittleson organized in 1993 consisted of about 25 military Christians from 14 different countries. At Bruce’s request, Noel Dawes helped to coordinate the international element in Russia. While still on active duty, he was then a volunteer worker with ACCTS (Association for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service, (accts.org) acting on behalf of AMCF (Association of Military Christian Fellowships, (amcf-int.org). ACCTS and OBI have been strong, close partners for many years. Many other cooperating representatives were at the conference, including Campus Crusade Military Ministry, The Navigators Military Ministry, Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF) and numerous others. Relationships began and developed that actively exist today, 29 years later, still bearing fruit as a large, thriving, growing multi-faceted military Christian outreach in a growing number of countries.
Here’s another example of interoperable ministry, this time within Olive Branch. Board members Linda Sheimo and Noel Dawes teamed up “interoperably” to bring healing to suffering female US Veterans through the Welcome Home Initiative© retreats. When Linda was on active duty, she demonstrated expertise in the area of female abuse and trauma.
Noel has been helping to lead and coordinate Welcome Home Initiative© retreats for men and women veterans suffering from the disabling effects of combat and other traumas including post-traumatic stress.
In the spring of 2019, Linda attended the female veterans retreat as a team member. She gave a closing address during a short chapel service which marked the end of the retreat. Linda was outstanding in the way she allowed the Holy Spirit to minister through her to several hurting women. She listened actively to each woman, she had great empathy for them, and she was extremely compassionate. The women veterans who came warmed to Linda easily and her presence helped make the retreat a significant event in their lives. Her talk was encouraging and empowering as she sought to equip each woman with spiritual and mental health principles they could use for the rest of their lives.
Linda’s presence gave the WHI© retreat added value. It also gave opportunities for the ministry of Olive Branch International to be lifted up and proclaimed as well. We, who are “the only hands and feet He has,” can rejoice as God is honoured through our cooperation, help and support - our interoperability. To value interoperability, as Olive Branch does, is truly one of the best spiritual goals we can have, as we serve military men and women around the world.
Olive Branch Intern. Board Member