Jamie’s IT degree and industry experience provided him with exactly the right skillset to step into OM’s international IT department at a critical moment, keeping the organisation’s intranet system afloat and developing it for greater ministry impact across the world.
“All I ever wanted to be growing up was a missionary,” said Jamie Bell (Ireland), who committed his life to Christ at age four.
He maintained his relationship with God throughout childhood, but “because of that, I was heavily bullied in primary and secondary school,” he remembered. By 15, he was “trying to survive” school instead of engaging academically, he described. Then one evening, he attended a church event where a visiting missionary was preaching. She stopped in the middle of the sermon, singling Jamie out for a message she said the Holy Spirit was giving her for him: “God knows the prayers of your heart, but you have to get a good education first.”
Still, it was a bit of a surprise a few years later when Jamie felt God directing him to enrol in an IT course at university. And nothing seemed further from missions than his subsequent job as a junior software engineer for a company developing government software in Northern Ireland.
Looking back, however, God was preparing Jamie for his current role as a software project manager for OM, equipping him with exactly the right skills and experience to manage an intranet system that affects every one of OM’s ministries around the world.
The right skills at the right time
The timing was precise as well. When Jamie joined the OM International IT team, moving to Carlisle, England, there were five people working on the intranet system, OM’s private online network used for communication, collaboration, document storage and more. Within the first month, they all left. “There was just me,” Jamie said. “I didn’t have a boss…There was nothing between me and the corporate service manager.” At that point, due to the lack of people to keep it running, senior leaders even considered turning the system off.
Instead, Jamie pressed on with the project. “We just had to put nose to the ground and get on with it,” he remembered.
“God knew exactly what He was doing. He trained me up with exactly the right skills to step in at that moment, and not because I've got some amazing skills or anything. It's just because God knew that I was prepared to step out and let God be God and supply the insights and skills that were needed.”
Today, Jamie oversees a small team of five people, comprised of both in-office and remote workers. Together, they continue to tweak and develop the intranet system as well as respond to user needs. OM offices utilise a variety of off-the-shelf software programmes, and Jamie’s team write “the glue between all these different structures and the software,” he explained. Their behind-the-scenes work has massive implications for financial development, marketing and communications as well as enabling individual OM workers around the world to access their personal support.
“Jamie’s vision and drive are what’s needed to take OM’s intranet into the future. We see the intranet as a critical tool in many aspects of OM’s work and vision, which is used across OM to make vital information available to those who need to work with it,” shared Holger Rabbach, OM International’s chief IT officer and Jamie’s supervisor. “There are also many things that go on in the background, connecting different components of OM’s management systems that most people will never see.”
In fact, Jamie and his team strive to be “invisible” in their efforts. “We don’t want people to notice that there are problems that need to be solved because we want it to be seamless and easy,” he shared. “We want to make something so intuitive that people barely even have to think.”
Wim Goudzwaard, OM International’s chief development officer, oversees ministry plans across the organisation. The platform that presents and tracks vital information for these ministries, designed by another OM worker, is developed and maintained by Jamie and his team. Fundraisers connecting with potential donors need reliable information about the ministry they’re raising money for, including outcomes, activities and budgets.
“Without a plan, there is no information. Without information, there is no offer to participate. Without an offer to participate in funding the ministry, we do not have a ministry,” Wim explained. Therefore, Jamie and his team play a vital role: “Their ministry enables both the ministry of financial development as well as the ministry of every OM field.”
More people means more capacity
"Having worked in the IT industry, I would say the volume of work done by such a small amount of people would be considered impossible,” Jamie said. “We do feel the pressure of it massively, but we’re really honoured at the same time because all we want to do here is serve God, serve missions and make a difference, and that’s really cool that we can do that.”
By God’s grace, Jamie’s team keep the system moving forward, but operating with minimal staff means “there are lots of things that just don’t get done because there’s far too much to do and not enough people to do it,” Jamie explained. “I’m in a position of managing that and communicating effectively with leaders and department heads to try and understand where the priorities are at. If we had more people to delegate to, that would be a huge difference.”
Even as he acknowledged his team’s contribution to the organisation, Jamie readily admitted his absolute reliance on God. “God needs to be with us every single day,” he emphasised. “Our focus should not be on ourselves or what we can do because it’s really only God who makes the difference.”
“I'm so honoured that as a young person stepping out that God was able to use me in ways that I could never have dreamt of. I love it as much as I find it hard because I can see God's hand on so many areas of work and life,” Jamie said.
“I'd love to be able to tell people in the IT industry that there's so much fulfilling work that you can do in OM. You can make an enormous difference, and you're not just making a difference to shareholders getting a small increase in their profits. You're making a sizeable difference that will impact people's lives forever....We're actually able to support and help the growth of ministries across the world.”
Beyond individuals themselves being willing for God to use their professional skills in missions, Jamie said that other Jesus followers can help provide visibility for critical job openings in IT, finance, human resources and other areas to their contacts. “It was my mother who suggested looking at the OM website,” Jamie recalled. Although Jamie deeply desired to serve the Lord, he’d never connected his aptitude for IT to missions—or realised the opportunities available for his skillset. The same could be true for others, Jamie suggested: “God might already be speaking to them about joining missions, and this might be the thing that spurs them on to make that final decision.”
Have you considered your place in God’s plan for the nations? You can join OM as an IT, communications, HR, finance or training professional and use the skills He’s given you! Check out opportunities today at www.om.org.