Sense of Adventure

By Karissa Maust

Olivia has had several jobs over the years, but many of them have had one theme in common—they have all been adventurous. Twenty-five-year-old Olivia has worked at a rock-climbing gym and a Christian hostel in Amsterdam and now gets to experience life on the sea as the first JAARS Maritime Fellow. 

Another commonality of Olivia’s jobs is that they have been affiliated with missions. Since the age of 14, she has felt called to serve the Lord by sharing the gospel. She attended her church’s missions conference and was moved when the speaker said he’d been called to missions at her age! When she left the conference that night, she asked God to plant a desire for missions in her heart if that was what she was meant to do. And he did; the desire to share about God’s love with those who’ve never heard about it has never left her.

In pursuit of this calling, Olivia majored in Intercultural Studies at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina. After graduating in 2018, she worked several jobs. At the Christian hostel in Amsterdam, she was able to share the gospel with several people from different cultures. In March 2020, the pandemic caused her to return home six months sooner than she had planned.  

Back home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Olivia searched on, a job-posting website, for a job where she could engage in mission work. There she stumbled on a JAARS Fellows posting. Since she grew up in Rock Hill, not far from the JAARS Center, she had heard of our organization but had never considered working here. 

Olivia originally applied for the Multigenerational Engagement Fellow position since she has a love of the outdoors. However, the administration thought that the Maritime Fellow position would be a better fit. Even though she had had no experience on the sea, the Maritime Department decided she would catch on quickly and was the right candidate. “They were impressed with my experience with event marketing and my experience enforcing safety procedures in the rock-climbing gym. [This position] isn’t something I would have initially chosen for myself, but I am super glad to be here,” Olivia said. 

The CrossVenture|Coastal group that Olivia participated in.

Olivia has learned a lot through the responsibilities she has already had as the Maritime Fellow. One of her main tasks is helping with CrossVenture Coastal. This program teaches participants water-safety skills and emphasizes how these skills are used by mission workers. Olivia has already attended as a participant to become familiar with the program. Along with lessons in boat safety, she also learned about the need for Bible translation. Olivia was greatly inspired by these lessons, and she can’t wait to be one of the instructors.

Even more exciting was the opportunity Olivia recently had to travel with other JAARS Maritime staff members to Kenya in Africa to teach maritime safety to children in an orphanage on a Lake Victoria island. “It was a really incredible experience to be able to provide practical, lifesaving equipment and training to a group of teachers, administrators, and students from the school.”

Olivia presents some of the water safety gear from JAARS to the school in Kenya.

Though Olivia did not originally plan to become the Maritime Fellow at JAARS, she is glad God had greater plans because she has already been able to learn new mechanical, boating, and video-editing skills. JAARS is truly blessed to have Olivia, with her adventurous spirit, making a contribution to the kingdom of God!

Pray for Cohort Delta to grow spiritually and professionally as they continue their fellowship!