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Weaving Passions for Textiles, Ministry, and the Outdoors

Though A.O. only spent every other weekend with her dad, he regularly took her to church and introduced her to Jesus. Her mom wasn’t a believer, so when A.O. became a teenager, her mom only let her go to church once every three weeks. Realizing she couldn’t please both parents, A.O. was forced to make a choice. She said, “That made me really think through what I believe and why I believe it. But for me, God was definitely very real, and I wanted to do His will.”

A.O. spent most of her childhood with her mom who was a studio painter and owner of a decoration shop in France. Growing up in a creative environment, A.O. said, “My favorite pastime as a kid was making things with my hands.” Her mom would give her leftover fabrics from the shop, and when she turned 11, A.O.’s favorite gift was a sewing machine.

But don’t let A.O.’s love for crafting trick you into thinking that she isn’t adventurous—she grew up in the French Alps and really loves the outdoors, hiking, and traveling. Wanting to learn English, she moved to England for a year when she was 17 and volunteered at a Christian activity center in a national park. After that, she went to college in Paris where she studied craftsmanship and then specialized in textiles for the sporting and outdoor industries. When her curriculum required her to complete a six-month internship, God led her to an opportunity in Norway, and she faithfully obeyed. She intended to continue living abroad, but the pandemic finally forced her to slow down and return to France.

During the lockdown, A.O. joined Bible studies that reignited her love for God’s Word so much that it led her to attend the Geneva Bible Institute in Switzerland. When her missiology teacher pointed out that comfort lulls people to sleep, that really showed her how much she valued her own comfort. “Am I in the place where God wants me?” she asked herself. Wrestling with that question led her to surrender to God even more fully. She told Him, “I want to serve You wherever You want me to. If that’s in France, then hallelujah! But if that’s somewhere else, You’ll have to show me.”

She knew that some remote villages could only be reached by foot, and she thought, “I spend time hiking in the mountains for fun—why not use that for missions?” So she met with Florent, one of her teachers who is also on staff with Encompass. Little did they know, she’d be the perfect fit for our team in Central Asia who operates a textile facility in a region surrounded by plenty of remote villages in the mountains. A.O. said, “When I told him about my background, he nearly jumped to the ceiling!”

A.O. is now stepping out in faith as she plans to join Encompass’s team in Central Asia for six months starting in October 2023. While there, she’ll focus on learning the language and leveraging her textiles expertise to engage in relational ministry. God has been preparing A.O. her whole life for this opportunity, and we’re excited to see how He continues to weave together her passions for ministry, textiles, and the outdoors! You can partner with A.O. at encompassworldpartners.org/ao3555.