This Is Our Story

By Leah Swank, Partnership Coordinator

Pregnancy has been such a ride these last several months. As my husband and I are now entering our last trimester, there has been a lot of last minute preparations and reflecting that has taken place in the Swank household. One of the questions we keep asking ourselves is how having a baby will effect us during the busy summer months of ministry. From the beginning, we have always desired to be a family on mission wherever the Lord might lead us. We are blown away that we get to begin that journey together where it all began, Oklahoma.

In 2014, the opportunity to help in the tornado relief work being done in Moore, Oklahoma became available to Next Step. That summer nine of us interns packed up our Next Step vehicles and made the long drive from Madison, WI to Moore, OK. What God had planned for each of us over the course of those ten weeks, none of us could have seen coming. We came to serve a community that was recovering from a great loss, and in return it was the community that served us in ways that go beyond all that we could ask or imagine.

For me, I had a plan for after college with a job lined up. However, all of that changed after three short weeks in Oklahoma. Over the next few summers, while I wasn’t serving on Summer Staff, I made it a point to visit and stay involved with the Oklahoma community and partnerships we had met in the beginning. Before long, I found myself packing up a U-haul and making Oklahoma my permanent residence. Community members who I had grown close to over the years opened up there homes to me when I needed a place to stay, and made the transition for this Texas girl a smooth one.

For my husband, he got spoiled! He was able to intern a few more summers and eventually made the move himself to OKC. He was able to make his home downtown next door to one of our original partnerships. As Oklahoma became home for this Kansas boy, he slowly began to make connections with the Cross and Crown community and began to feel at home once more.

What started off for the both of us as a mission internship, soon morphed into a community that we couldn’t stay away from. It’s as though the Lord was uniquely planting each of us into this community in such an incredible way, that we just couldn’t stay away. We are coming up on our fourth year of living in the great state of Oklahoma. To say that it has been an honor and privilege to be a part of what God has done in the OKC and Moore communities over the last several summers is a huge understatement. But there is still work to be done.

This summer we have the incredible opportunity to spice things up! While many of these exciting ventures are still in the construction phase, we are cannot wait to bring you and your students along for the ride. We can’t wait for you to meet some of the community members we have begun getting to know over the last several months as well as introduce you to our old friends, and can’t wait to watch as these relationships unfold.

As we prepare for the arrival of our little man at home, we ask that in the meantime, you would join us in praying for the Lord’s provision and favor over the plans that are starting to come together for this upcoming summer! It’s going to be an exciting summer friends, praying that you will join us!

Next Step Ministries