Before she left for Cambodia, we asked Olivia why she felt compelled to go (the video below is her response). Now, at the end of her first year of ministry, we asked her to describe her calling again.
Watch her pre-field thoughts on calling:
God has really given me a particular passion for multi-ethnicity and different cultures, language, and people groups—and given me a real burden for the poor. So, God has called me to do both of those things: to care about the poor and the marginalized, build relationships with them and love them, in cross-cultural contexts. So I’ll be moving to Cambodia and doing just that—seeking to love my neighbor.
–Olivia Wyatt, InnerCHANGE, 2016
Olivia’s response is a beautiful example of how God sometimes makes the call clearer as we take the first steps of obedience. Olivia followed God in faith, and found that he had a pretty unique plan for her—a plan as unique as she is. Here’s what she had to share...
When I first sensed the Lord putting Cambodia on my heart in 2012, I didn’t understand why. It seemed completely disconnected and random. In some ways, I’m still discovering the “why” of this calling. But during this first year of living in Cambodia, God has slowly and steadily given me insight into how he designed and crafted me from the very beginning for the work he has prepared for me here.
When I was deciding on a college major, I felt very strongly that I was supposed to go into the nursing profession; I had a deep desire to care for others by alleviating pain and suffering. After graduation I wound up in the specialty of oncology and was surprised to discover how naturally I was drawn to end-of-life care. It is a unique privilege to walk alongside patients and their families as they process such a complex and delicate thing as death.
I joined InnerCHANGE in Cambodia last year, not knowing exactly how I would plug into the team. God used an experience with a neighbor to make his design for my ministry clearer.
Part-way through the year, a boy in my neighborhood in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) was found to have bone cancer in his left femur that had metastasized to his lungs. His family was extremely poor. They could barely afford rice, let alone medical care. Even if they could, the medical system in Cambodia is so limited, and his disease process was so advanced, that nothing could really be done. So he waited to die. And waited. For months—with severe pain, shortness of breath, widespread infection, and many other taxing symptoms. It was deeply distressing to witness. He passed away in March. As I debriefed and processed this experience, I sensed the Lord using this grief to illuminate my next steps.
I will be joining in with InnerCHANGE Cambodia’s Sunrise project. They provide supportive care to people living with HIV and AIDS, various cancers, and other serious illnesses. Cultural stigma and poverty create massive barriers to receiving adequate healthcare in Cambodia. The sick and dying are a devastatingly neglected and vulnerable population. I believe there is prophetic power in competent and compassionate healthcare for the poor in the name of Christ. I am compelled to do this by the recognition that my time, financial resources, career, and position of privilege do not belong to me. God has given me a holy discontentment with the disparity of resources between affluent and poor communities around the world. He has sparked in me a longing to see “justice roll down like waters” in Cambodia, and has convicted me to offer my life to him in pursuit of that justice. I desire to come alongside people as an advocate for their holistic well-being—to aid in their physical health and nourishment, to provide emotional encouragement and affirmation, and most of all to support their spiritual healing and transformation by proclaiming truth about Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
It’s been exciting to get a glimpse of how God can use my personality, giftings, and temperament to advance his Kingdom here and now. I’ve been so affirmed by God’s tender encouragement that he can use me exactly as he’s created me. He is making a space for me here, and my ministry vision is emerging. I am discovering my “why.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Olivia Wyatt lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Olivia joined InnerCHANGE in 2016. She is from Bowie, Maryland, and loves cooking and being anywhere near water.