Who’s that Girl? It’s Jess
My name is Jessica Applegarth, I am originally from Beatrice Nebraska, but I have called Omaha home for the past 9 years. I came to Omaha to attend college at Grace University where I received my Bachelor’s in Graphic Design and my Master’s in Counseling Ministry. I worked at Grace for three years as the Resident Director where my love for mentoring and discipleship grew greatly. I began attending Citylight after Gavin spoke at my graduation in 2014, and I became a member in 2015. While at Citylight, I have regularly been a part of two city groups: Young Adults Leavenworth, and the Old Market city group. Both groups have been used mightily in my life to stretch and grow me over the last few years. God has also used the serving teams in my walk with Him. I have served on the coffee cleanup team and as a youth leader with Citylight High. Both have taught me great lessons of how to serve wherever is needed and to be open to God’s leading even when it doesn’t make sense.
Call to Ireland
God has brought me on a great journey throughout my life of learning to trust Him and not my plans, or even my own strength. This truth was brought to light again when God called me to leave everything that I had ever known and follow Him as a missionary to Ireland for two years. God has been in the process of drawing my heart to Europe since I visited Germany in 2011. During that visit, I was blown away by the spiritual darkness; churches were used more as museums than places of worship! Ever since that trip, God has been opening my eyes to the need for the Gospel throughout Europe.
When I first came across the need for a Youth Director at Swords Baptist Church, I was very comfortable in my life in Omaha, but it seemed clear that God was calling me to take a step of faith and follow Him. (here’s the full story). Throughout the process of applying and preparing to go, God has confirmed His call by opening doors that I had assumed would not have been opened to me. And so now, I am preparing to go to Ireland.
When people first hear the word "Missions," Europe is not what usually comes to mind. Historically, the Church has had a strong presence in Europe, but over time this has turned from meaningful relationships with Jesus to cold history. Ireland has suffered from this trend perhaps more than most. Catholicism is strong, but genuine relationships with Jesus are not. Evangelical Christians only make up 1.5% of Ireland's population; that is the lowest percent of Evangelicals in any English-speaking country! Swords Baptist Church is seeking to change that statistic and make Jesus known again in Ireland, but they need help. With the state of the Irish economy, paying a youth pastor is not possible, and local volunteers can only give so much time. Since many of the teenagers in the youth group are the only believers in their schools, they are constantly being pressured to fill their time with the vices of the world, and without alternatives at church, many will succumb to those pressures.
Why Youth Ministry?
My time in youth group as a teenager was incredibly formative to my Christian faith. Most of my friends "believed in Jesus" but their lives did not necessarily reflect that Jesus meant much to them. It was so nice to see role models living out their faith and to know that it was even possible to live a life on fire for Christ.
I am so excited that God has called me into a ministry that was so influential in my own life! High school is a tough time of life but having a strong church family that can come alongside teens and encourage them that it is okay to be different than the "other kids" makes it just a little bit easier. What a blessing to be able to be a part of forming the next generation during one of their most difficult stages of life! I am hoping to prepare these teens to face the challenges that the world throws at them. In the two years I will have in Ireland, I want to equip them to make their faith their own, so as they go out into the world, they are not only confident in who they are, but also in Whose they are.
So, What Can I Do?
This ministry is incredibly exciting, but it is also way too much for one person to handle. The spiritual warfare that takes place in countries as dark as Ireland is very strong and I am in dire need of prayer warriors to cover this mission in prayer. I have seen the incredible power of prayer through Citylight’s growth over the past few years and I am confident that there are some incredible prayer warriors in our church.
Another way you can get involved is to be an encourager. Being a missionary can be very isolating as well as spiritually draining. Any notes of encouragement, shared Scripture verses or even just acknowledgements of receiving my updates are most appreciated!
Additionally, I need financial partners. This ministry is completely support-based for several reasons:
- Were I to be taking away a job from a local Irishman, I would probably be denied entry to the country.
- Being support-based allows a growing church to expand its ministry that would not otherwise be possible.
- Most importantly, being support-based means that as a team we can share in the joys and trials of this ministry (Phil. 4:14-20.)
I know that I have been incredibly blessed by being on the financial teams of other missionaries and I am hoping that God will use this ministry as blessing to you in the same way.
If God is calling you to get involved in any of these ways, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get in touch with you about the details of our partnership in the Gospel.
Thank you for your faithfulness in the work God is doing at Citylight and thank you for your partnership in spreading God’s Kingdom work around the world!
For His Glory,