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Did You Know? A History Lesson on OC Ministries

A Dream Was Born

Thirty-three years ago, Reverend Smart Senesie, District Superintendent of the Moyamba District of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, preached a powerful sermon at Rosemount UMC (The Well) inviting all in attendance to join in a Holy Spirit movement happening in his country. He ended by urging any who felt called to visit his village to discover what he meant.

Shannon Stire, a teenager at the time, felt the nudge and recruited her youth pastor, Lyndy Zabel, to travel with her.

A few months later, joining twenty-four others from the Indiana, they helped complete a project and also traveled throughout the country. The local Bishop at the time, Thomas Bangura, challenged them to go back to Minnesota and help the Africans build six more schools in the next three years.

Lyndy and Shannon took those plans to Reverend Kathy Horn, an Associate Pastor at Rosemount, who along with her husband Jim, put together Operation Classroom: MN, an approved project of the Minnesota Annual Conference. With a team of volunteers from across the state, and funding from Rosemount UMC and others, a dream was born. Oh, what a dream it was. And oh, what a movement it has been! 

Did You Know We Have...

Operation Classroom (later to be called "OC Ministries") has worked in seven different countries? (Chile, Haiti, Jamaica, Liberia, Puerto Rico and Uganda, in addition to Sierra Leone)

  • Completed over fifty schools, clinics and churches in those countries and raised over one million dollars to fund them

  • Sent over 500 volunteers from Minnesota to work on them in partnership with nationals

  • Expanded to start sewing co-ops in several locations

  • Dug wells all over Liberia and Sierra Leone

  • Planted an avocado farm in Jamaica

  • Supported over 250 students with scholarships annually

  • Facilitated teacher’s training in rural Haiti

  • Planted four churches in Sierra Leone

  • Distributed over 20,000 pairs of glasses in Jamaica

  • Provided meals for 900 students a day

Did You Know We Partner With...

  • Feed My Starving Children in Sierra Leone

  • Lions International in Jamaica

  • The University of Haiti

  • The General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church

Our Service Model: In A Nutshell

OCM only works at the invitation of the local denominational leader in each country. This means, we hire local architects, construction supervisors and laborers for our projects. Our projects are designed to financially support local pastors, teachers, farmers and nurses. As a result of our work over the years, we have also helped call several persons to become lay and ordained UMC ministers, both in Minnesota and abroad.

What Can Be Learned From This History Lesson? 

Never try to stop a teenager from listening to the urgings in her heart. In fact, encourage it. There would be no OC Ministries today without Shannon Stire. The youth are the future and the PRESENT of our churches.

  • Nationals know what’s best for their country.

  • Partnership means everything, and draws the world closer.

  • Committed volunteers can and DO change the world.

  • When the Holy Spirit is moving, it can’t be stopped. 

Thanks in great measure to people like you, OCM has had a wonderful thirty-three years. And we look forward to the next thirty-three! We hope to be sending you regular updates as the months and years progress.  Stay tuned … we’ve only just begun. God isn’t finished with us yet!

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