Longtime volunteer, Janice Woody, shares reflections on serving alongside the O’Driscoll’s at OCC for the last decade: People, over time, are what the Lord uses to bring His will down from heaven on earth. There is something about taking one day at a time that protects us from being overwhelmed, discouraged, or reluctant. It would have been impossible to make a 10 year commitment to OCC and that was certainly never asked. Instead the Lord asked me to give Him my whole life for as long as I live.
I would never have picked a ministry on a Saturday morning to get involved in. There is a lot that goes on Saturday mornings. I have 3 boys and they were very much into baseball and their games were on Saturdays and of course a myriad of other things that happen on Saturday. God never asked me what was convenient or if there would be a better place for me to fit. I had a definite leading Saturday by Saturday to get up and go. I helped where I could and let God show me how to work out the rest. If He wanted me there He would have to work out the family and other things that press in.
The first thing to hit me was that the needs of the children were so great! I learned pretty quickly I could never meet the physical needs that were presented week after week. The Lord would have to show us what to do. He began to show me that He wanted me to teach. He then provided what He wanted me to teach and began using my mouth to speak His words to Saturday after Saturday. I can’t teach but Christ in me is amazing – even to me.
Isabel and I drove to places where the kids lived. We started in vans and then a year or so later both Isabel and I got bus licenses. We met with their parents and were always amazed by the respect we were given as the “church ladies”. They wanted their children to go to church and had openness to God. The places were dangerous and at times I would have 911 dialed on my cell phone as I walked passed drug dealers standing in the parking lot. We were living in the prayers of people who Peter had shared the vision with. God’s hand was so obviously with us we could almost reach out and grab it.
I think if I were to pinpoint what was so intoxicating about those early years (and even now) it would be the presence of God. I had such an awareness of God with us I couldn’t wait until Saturday or to go visiting homes during the week. Hanging out so closely with God and actually enjoying His friendship/partnership week after week was what kept me engaged wholeheartedly. God asked me to get up every Saturday but didn’t leave me to myself. He was with me every step of the way in as real a way as Isabel or any other person. I know God in a way I could never know Him had I not ever set foot at OCC. He is teaching me how to love, how to teach, what to say. Of course I haven’t arrived and He is still teaching me but it is audible and real not a feeling or guess. God is serious about these children and He takes the lives that He is given and begins to transform them into the likeness of Christ because that is what the children need. They don’t need Janice Woody – they need Jesus Christ. God is in the business of using mere men and women to bring His love and His message to hurting people. He continues to draw me close and teach me, all the while chipping things out of my life that get in the way. I know that God and His relationship with me is what keeps me coming every week even now. I wouldn’t miss out on our special time together for anything!
One of the best things that has happened over the ten years is what the Lord has done in my family. My daughter came with me the very first day 10 years ago. She was 7 years old. She has been by my side for the last 10 years and has developed into a teacher with a passion for the Lord and for children. I have seen the Lord work in her life and have had the opportunity to watch the partnership and relationship she has with God develop and mature. I can’t express with words how grateful I am for what the Lord is doing in her life. But He didn’t stop there. My three boys also started to come whenever they weren’t playing sports and have now become regular leaders. I never wake anyone up on Saturday mornings and they all are there every week. My husband also has been supportive and comes whenever he can and helps however he can. God has brought our family together in ministry. We all have our own place inside of OCC to help and we all have our own experience with God being with us but it unites us in ways I could never have imagined. I am watching my children being mentored by Isabel and other Godly adults in OCC as well as by God Himself to be ministers and disciples. I didn’t know how to balance Saturday mornings and family and other commitments but God had a glorious plan. He didn’t tell me what He was going to do. He just asked me to be obedient to what He was asking me to do and then trust Him with the rest. Wow! This truly is more than I could ever have asked or dreamed!!
There are so many stories to tell about the children at OCC. I have developed many wonderful friendships and learned so much more from them than what I have ever taught them. My children also have made friends with so many of the OCC students as they have become a part of our lives. My kids have grown up with some of them as we have 9 or 10 year relationships with them. They come back to see us being 20 or 22 years old and it is wonderful to see them. It is not always one success story after another. These students face hard things and dangers in their lives that we can never imagine. Getting to tell them that God loves them and wants a relationship with them through Jesus Christ is a privilege that I am grateful to be afforded the opportunity to do. So many have grabbed onto the message and accepted Christ as their Savior. I wish that you could meet them all because there is such rejoicing in heaven over these little ones. Who here on earth can quantify all of eternity being changed for a few hundred kids?