James & Jenna Roberts
SWO has played a pivotal role in both of our lives. As a result, the trajectory of our lives has changed forever, and we pray God receives all of the glory.
I am originally from Richmond Hill, Georgia, a coastal town near Savannah. Jenna grew up in Wilson, North Carolina, not too far from Raleigh. Our paths may have never crossed if it hadn’t been for Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters. Jenna began attending summer camp in 2011, and my youth group followed just a few summers later in 2014. While attending SWO as students the Lord moved in both Jenna & I’s lives. For Jenna, the Lord used an evening service during SWO13 to reveal her brokenness and her need for Him. That summer Jenna’s youth pastor’s wife began mentoring and discipling her. The Lord saved me two years before my first summer at SWO. One of the things that stood out to me while at SWO was the strong emphasis placed on overseas missions. The importance of missions became so clear and my desire to be a part of that grew. I knew that one day I would either pursue overseas missions and go myself, or I would stay and be a strong sender. Simply staying and not sending wouldn’t be an option.
Fast forward to the summer of 2016. This was Jenna and I’s first summer serving on staff. During staff church, Brody spent the entire summer walking our staff through the last few verses in Matthew 28 about the Great Commission. For the first time, Jenna was hit with the crippling realization that there are people all over the world who have yet to hear the Gospel be clearly presented to them. It was then that she felt her call to go. Jenna and I’s paths wouldn’t cross until we both returned to work the following summer in 2017. Towards the end of the summer, my feelings for Jenna began to set in. I knew that there was something remarkable about her. I kept my feelings between myself and the Lord while seeking the guidance of older men. Heeding their advice I took time to truly consider if pursuing Jenna for marriage was what the Lord wanted me to do. In the meantime, we were both accepted into the 2017-2018 SWO Institute Class to stay at SWO that next year to work retreats, take college classes, and be discipled amongst many other things.
Towards the end of 2017, Jenna began feeling the same way and we started dating! Before dating, we both knew that the other had a heart for overseas missions and a desire to go if the Lord allowed. When our internship ended, Jenna took a full-time position in the Snowbird office, and I began to work at Andrews Truss right beside SWO. We dated for a total of eleven months, were engaged for six, and were married in the spring of 2019. We are so thankful for the loving community of SWO that poured into us, discipled us, and walked alongside us while we were dating, engaged, and as we walked through our first year of marriage!
A month before we were married, we were introduced to the team leaders of the 6 Degree Initiative in Togo, West Africa, JJ & Melissa Alderman. We sat in the rocking chairs on the Coop front porch and heard every detail of the great work that is being done in Togo. Jenna and I learned how they are using five different projects to engage with ten people groups who have no knowledge of Jesus. We heard stories of the Lord bringing those in bondage to Satan to salvation and freedom in Him. As our conversations continued, we heard of how a Gospel movement has started among the people. The team is seeing those that they have discipled turn and make disciples who then make disciples! Jenna and I began to prayerfully consider if this would be the place that the Lord would call us to serve.
It wasn’t long before Jenna and I booked plane tickets to Togo. Our vision trip took place in November of 2019. While there we were able to see what day-to-day life would look like, meet the other team members, and most importantly see the ministry work in action. Jenna and I were most excited to see the third project within the 6 Degree Initiative which is Togo Palms Camp and Bible Institute. Having spent quite a few years at SWO, we felt that we could truly see ourselves serving in this capacity. As we walked the camp property in Togo, West Africa we prayed that the Lord would use it in mighty ways and that He’d bring students to saving faith in Him. In a country where 70% of the population is under 30 years old, it is vital that we engage with and train up the next generation of leaders to follow the one true God. Togo Palms has the opportunity to do just that. It was such an encouragement for Jenna and me to see how the Lord has equipped us with experiences and skills that can be put to use while serving in Togo. Returning home from our vision trip we knew and had such a peace that this is where the Lord is calling us to go, so we began the process of joining the team!
As our fifth summer at SWO (SWO20) came to an end, Jenna and I made the move back to my hometown to be closer to our family as we take these next few months to prepare to move to Togo. Preparation for us looks like attending team meetings, attending conferences with our sending organization (Converge International Ministries), cultural training, language school (French), and reading books and completing book reports. Most importantly, Jenna and I will be building partnerships with those who have a desire to see the Gospel reach the people of Togo, West Africa.
As we sit here on the other side of our time with SWO remembering what it was like to come as students, to have the desire to work on staff, to feel the call to missions while at SWO, to meet each other there, to stay full time, and then to be sent out by SWO—we are incredibly grateful. We can not thank the Lord enough for his kindness and favor, and we are beyond thankful that SWO has become such a launching pad to disciple and send out.
James & Jenna Roberts
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