Name: Jennifer Tibbetts
Role at OMF (U.S.): Assistant to Vice President for Personnel and Child Safety Officer
Length of service with OMF: 19.5 years (15 as a missionary in Thailand, 4.5 in the U.S. office)
What is your favorite:
Movie: Sound of Music
Band/song: “O Praise Him” by David Crowder Band
Book: By Searching by Isobel Kuhn
Place to travel: Thailand – The Pines
Gift to receive: An event – time to spend together (e.g. my son planned a special dinner out at a nice restaurant he had worked at; my daughter bought me a ticket to “Beauty and the Beast” at Vintage Theater)
Part of your job: Talking to missionaries when they’re home from the field and being able to encourage them from experiences I’ve been through (e.g. homeschooling, loneliness on the field.)
What are three words someone might use to describe you? Direct, outgoing, efficient
Sometimes even our closest friends have misconceptions about what we do for work. So give us a glimpse into:
What people think I do: Try to keep my boss on track!
What I actually do: Lots of e-mail, taking care of details about missionaries, financial clearance for missionaries, child safety prevention and helping with a crisis management team for historic child abuse cases.
What was it like moving from a field role in missions to a role in the U.S.?
I mourned for a year and felt lost, wondering “what is my identity now?” I had thought I’d always be on the mission field—until retirement. I felt shelved, like I wasn’t a good enough missionary so God took me off the field.
One year after we left the field, my friend Kevin Grenier prayed over me at the U.S. National Conference. His words to me were “you are being promoted” and God said, “You are being promoted to being My daughter. Being My daughter is your highest calling—not being a missionary.” This was very healing.
I have gradually learned to appreciate the place God has for me on the homeside. I love when I feel like I am able to contribute something to OMF from my experience on the field and also use my administrative gifts here. I am also thankful that I am now working three days per week for OMF which gives me two days per week for evangelism and discipleship in my community/church as I really missed that initially when I was working 40 hours per week at OMF.
Fifteen years is a long time to serve in Thailand. How did your understanding of missionary work evolve during that time?
I think I came to understand more and more that a huge part of our role was simply “being” Christians: Christian husband and wife, Christian parents in a Buddhist culture. The Buddhists were watching and the new believers were watching. They had few Christian families to watch. The ways we took care of each other and built each other up and raised our kids and read the Bible and tried to live it out—these were very different from what the Thai had experienced. More than the activities we did (Bible studies, small groups, preaching, outreaches), it was our family life that was commented upon by our Thai church family when we left, as a positive thing that they wanted to emulate.
What is something you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to? Parachuting out of an airplane.
What is a hobby you enjoy? How did you get into that hobby?
Does reading count as a hobby? I love to “go into another world” and escape into books—especially historical romance novels with a Christian emphasis.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Flying – hope to do that in heaven!