More than an internship
December 2014

By Bianca Olcoski in Macedonia — I am a TESOL major (teaching English to speakers of other languages) at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, though I am originally from Brazil. As a requirement to complete my studies at Moody, I had to have a cross-cultural experience in teaching. My love for the Lord, the gospel, and for lost people drew me to Skopje, Macedonia.

TESOL as a tool

When I got accepted to study at Moody, I envisioned using English as a tool to build relationships with students. During my internship, I was not expecting anyone to get saved because it was such a short trip. But God is at work and is using ordinary people like me to proclaim the most beautiful story ever told: God incarnate came to die on the cross to save sinners for the ultimate glory of the Father!

I taught English in camps for kids and teens, but at night, we held adult classes. We got to meet a lot of people and could share the gospel outside of the classroom.

Fast friends

The first day I met Ellen*, our personalities clicked! She had been to Portugal a few times and loves Portuguese. We laughed together, we spent time together, and we also had serious spiritual conversations.

One of my goals for this trip was to see people as people and not as projects. I wanted to be genuinely interested in the people, not just to accomplish a task, but because they are created by God! I prayed for the Spirit to lead me to share the gospel and for the right times to share. I didn't share the gospel every time I saw with Ellen; sometimes we just had a good time together. Other times we would talk about God, Jesus, and the cross for hours. Such a paradox, but I feel it was very Spirit-guided.

Not about what she did

On my last day in Macedonia, a small group of us went shopping to buy souvenirs. Ellen and I were browsing when she said, "Oh Bia, that is Mother Thereza's house. Do you want to go see it?" I agreed. I didn't know Mother Thereza was originally from Skopje; I thought that was cool.

As we walked in, we read the signs of rewards Mother Thereza received for her "good deeds." Then I thought to myself: "Lord, maybe this will be the last time I will share the gospel with my friend."

I said, "Ellen, Mother Thereza did a lot of good things, didn't she?"

"Yes, Bia, look at how much she did," Ellen replied.

"Ellen, if Mother Thereza did not believe in Jesus as her Savior and Lord, believe he died on the cross for her because she is a sinner and repent of her sins, it would not matter that she did all these things. Because it is not about what she did, it is about what HE DID!"

I could see Ellen thinking and thinking. We went on and talked about the gospel one more time. I could see the Spirit was working in her.

A personal decision

Ellen heard the gospel again that night at Bible study. In our small group, I asked questions to see if Ellen really understood and then I asked if she was ready to make a decision for Christ. She was! I put my arms around her shoulders and asked her if she wanted to pray with me.

"Yes I want to pray," she said. "But I want to pray alone and in my language, because it is a personal decision." I was amazed at her answer.

After she prayed, I hugged her and said, "You are now my sister in Christ!"

I have been following up with her since I got back from Macedonia to see how she and her sister (also a new believer) are doing. For again, she is a person, not a project. I am glad I went there and was part of the most important decision of Ellen's life.

I thank SEND International for allowing me to go and represent God and SEND in Macedonia and to work with excellence for him, to share what Jesus did on the cross, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the ultimate glory of the Father. Praise him!

A short mission trip can change how you view yourself, the world, and our God. Our missions coaches can connect you with a great opportunity to serve short-term!

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*not her real name


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Bianca Olcoski
Bianca served as a short-term missionary to Macedonia.