Launch Team Highlight- Kelley O'Neill

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What is your favorite appetizer? Fried. PICKLES. (no hesitation at all on that one)
What is your favorite “have on in the background” tv show/movie? Hallmark movies. Me and
my parents have been working through some of them while we fold laundry, or while I was
writing my papers for school. Also, any criminal justice show: NCIS, Law and Order, etc.
If you could wake up tomorrow and know another language, fluently, what language would
you add to your brain? That’s a tough one, either Spanish or Arabic. Spanish so I could
communicate with my neighbors and fellow citizens here in the US, and Arabic to communicate the Gospel to people who haven’t heard it.

What song do you know all the words to that may surprise someone? I love Karaoke. Shania
Twain, “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” is my favorite Karaoke song, hands down. I also love “Piano
Man” by Billy Joel too.

How old were you when you decided you wanted to spread the gospel all over the globe?
Probably elementary school, when I went through things like AWANA, the Lottie Moon
offerings (IMB), Girls in Action (which is like Girl Scouts for churched people). Hearing about
traveling the world, and the thought of seeing other countries was so exciting. I just had a
desire to travel and live outside the US. After undergrad, my passion developed further. My
parents would make comments like “Kelley will probably be moving out of the country soon” in
passing and that sort of cemented that I was going to make it happen.

Give me a brief run-down of all that tremendous missions work you’ve done.
My first stateside mission trips were through World Changers (IMB), doing community projects and
service projects in the states and Canada for mainly low-income areas. I did that 4 years of high school. Then I went on a two-week missions’ trip to Czech Republic after high school, where we taught English which sparked my love of teaching a bit. I did some more brief trips throughout undergrad. I went to China for the first time with Image Church for 2 weeks, then I moved there the following summer to live and teach English. Duijiangyan is a small city (100,000 people) outside of Chengdu (home of the panda bear). After China, I lived in the Middle East for a year and half. I also taught Syrian refugees (adults and primary age students). I was in Lebanon in the Bekaa Valley. The spiritual warfare was intense over there.

Why Chicago? My first thought: God. God called me to it. I fully expected to return to other
countries overseas. The seed was planted September 2016, when I met with Dom and Tiff.
Things kind of fell apart with my plans to stay overseas, and I wasn’t feeling like God wanted me to stay in my situation. As I pursued what God wanted, I ended up reconnecting with Dom and Tiff; around that same time, I went to a conference for ESL in Chicago. I flew in, and I left
changed. There is so much diversity and so many ethnicities and languages in Chicago. There
was so much to do and see. In September of 2017, I spoke with them again, and I knew after
talking with them, I was joining the team. The idea of being part of a church plant, and
pioneering a new ministry is really exciting to me.

What are some of your biggest strengths? I really love kids. Relating to younger generations,
being able to adapt and relate to them is really easy for me. Essentially, I really love listening. I
could strike up conversation with literally anyone. I love to sit and listen to people telling
stories, and talking with new people. Words of affirmation is my love language, and I truly find
purpose and motivation in being open with people. I try to have a learner’s attitude when I talk with a new person. I enjoy learning about other cultures and allowing people to show me what
their culture is all about. Also, I am highly organized, and I love post-it notes.

What has God been teaching you? To expect the unexpected… lol