Romans 15:32 ESV “…so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”
In late March representatives from about 21 organizations, as well as chaplains and pastors, gathered in San Antonio, TX, for the Fellowship of Christian Military Ministries (FCMM) annual conference FCMM is an affiliation of para-church ministries which have been called to join God’s work in military societies around the world. The purpose of FCMM is to focus the efforts of the various military ministries through prayer and cooperation as they join in God’s work at various locations around the world. As part of FCMM, we covenant to:
Love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another,
support one another, meet with one another, communicate with one another, coordinate with one another, cooperate with one another…to the end that
Jesus Christ might be exalted.
Olive Branch was a co-host for the conference and was represented by Diane Carnahan, Caroline Grube, Linda Sheimo, and Dave Williams.
My husband Rick and I matured as Christians as we were involved in the ministries of military chapels, especially Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) and Belvoir Men of Faith (BMOF) and para-church organizations, such as Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF), and Association of Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service (ACCTS). OCF instilled in us a commitment to hosting Bible studies in our home wherever the Lord led us. ACCTS expanded our vision and mission to our international Christian brothers and sisters in the military. In 1992 PWOC gave me the opportunity to serve as project director of a national outreach project to Russian military families. Through this project I connected with Bruce Kittleson who was then serving with the Navigators. Rick and I and others helped found Olive Branch International (OBI) in 1994 to address the humanitarian needs of the international military community…. Christians doing humanitarian work.
Personally, the FCMM conference this year was a reminder of the path the Lord led Rick and me to serve through various ministries, each one meeting a different need and offering unique opportunities to serve the Lord. I was able to renew friendships and recall how the Lord had used us as partners in the Gospel. The Lord drew my attention to new resources …organizations, individuals, and materials. I was refreshed…by praise and worship that focused us on the reason we were serving, by conversations with others who had a similar call on their lives, and by time in prayer with OBI co-laborers. The Lord reassured us that we are not alone out there in the world. Most of the ministries focus on the United States military, but there were a few who focus on the international military, as OBI does. There was a dedicated time of prayer for the Ukrainian and Russian people and the war in Ukraine. During the session focused on International Ministries, organizations shared where they were currently engaged and discussed strategies to partner/co-labor with others, especially in Ukraine.
“The highlight of the conference for me was watching one organization pass their PTSD resources for children to an organization that focuses on children...co-laborers as we provide what is needed to those serving in Ukraine and neighboring countries. And we need to pray for those serving in Russia and not able to receive support.” Linda Sheimo
Organizations which typically focus on Christian outreach recognized the need to address the humanitarian needs as well. Olive Branch has that unique focus for humanitarian service unlike most of the other organizations representatives. FCMM provided the opportunity to explore ways in which we could co-labor and be more effective. As individuals we have different gifts and each organization can utilize those gifts in unique ways, according to the plan and purpose of the Lord.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Olive Branch and our humanitarian outreach to those in need around the world. Right now, our focus may be on Ukraine, but we continue to work in other areas around the globe to meet needs. Please consider joining us with your contribution and prayers in order that we may continue this significant work.
Family Support Program Director
P.S. In Case you missed our last update: We have begun to look ahead at what the needs will be in Ukraine as the rebuilding begins. Not only will buildings and infrastructure need to be rebuilt but also there will be needs for mental, emotional, and spiritual health. We are developing a Community Safety Net Program which includes disaster response and coordination for use by our Ukrainian team moving forward. The program will include training chaplains to use this proven approach in the communities they serve. We continue to pray for the safety and well-being of our Ukrainian friends and for ways that we can support them now and in the future.
We have been able to forward funds which has been used to purchase supplies for the hospital, medicine, provide fuel, help and protection for refugees, food and necessities. We are expanding provisions to include supplies such as shoes, boots, blankets, sleeping pads and more for Chaplains and those they serve on the front lines.