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New Staff Feature: Meet Shannon

By September 25, 2023March 19th, 2024No Comments

This summer, Stand in the Gap has welcomed two incredible new staff members to the Life Launch team. Friends and family of Stand in the Gap, we’d like for you to meet Shannon O’Brien! Shannon started as the Life Launch community development manager On July 1st. In this role, she will be working closely with all the volunteers who come to be Life Launch mentors. She will also be focusing on building relationships with churches and local community partners.  The Lord was very intentional in calling Shannon to this role, and we have already seen Him work through her in amazing ways here. We are so excited for what our future with Shannon looks like! This past week, we got to sit down with her and ask her to finish some sentences for us.  Here is how it went…

To someone who doesn’t know me, I would describe myself as…

joyful, fun, and kingdom-minded!

In my life, the most important things to me are…

My relationship with the Lord, community, and fun.

I really feel like the Lord made me to be relational, and I’m a natural networker. I delight in people because I understand that the Lord created them, so getting to know people is to get to know the Creator. I view networking as a fun way to connect with the Lord. I also think that in the last four years here in Tulsa, the Lord has given me such a healthy community.  It’s really redeeming and awesome. Within our community, having fun is a high value, and it’s a really sweet way to connect with people in the midst of anything. I grew up in a Christian home, so being kingdom-minded was instilled in me. As I continued to get older, the Lord has just continued to be like, “Here is more of me,” and it’s been really sweet to get to grow in the love and knowledge of the Lord.

I grew up in…

Winona, MN. 55987! It’s so beautiful. It’s in a valley right on the Mississippi. In the fall when all the trees are changing, the valley is so beautiful because there are colorful trees all around us- even in all the bluffs and everything. My family actually helped found my hometown, so we’ve been there for forever. It’s cool, because everyone knows us there.  We all look the same, so people will always ask, “Are you an O’Brien?” My dad was a musician and did a lot of music in that town, so it just feels so homey. A lot of ownership in that town for sure.

Some challenges I have seen the Lord’s faithfulness in throughout my life happened…

Five years ago was just a really sweet time with the Lord… It was a kind of just back to back to back things happening in my family- my brother was a survivor of a drive-by shooting, my dad had a stroke, my four year old nephew was diagnosed with an aggressive and cancerous brain tumor, and then my sister passed away.

It was just one thing after another. But in that, the Lord continued to show more of himself to me. Because I am a musician, I got to go to something called a Tribal intensive. Tribal Music releases a lot of music with Maverick City and artists like that. So they did their first intensive, and it was like ten musicians and ten students at an airbnb in Chicago. Hillsong United Pursuit, Gospel House, Housefires, Bethel, and International House of Prayer were all there. The fact that I even got to go there was really sweet. The Lord moved so many things around for me to be able to go. He provided 500 dollars within 24 hours for me to be at this thing, and while I was there, we got to do songwriting and recording with them and just hear them speak and practice prophecy. While we were there, me and three of my friends got healed and our legs grew out. My right leg had been shorter than my left my whole life, which caused a lot of discomfort. They prayed for it, and it grew out in Jesus name! That intensive was a week before my sister passed away- and I just felt the Lord say, “Shannon, I am everything I say I am.  Let’s go.” I felt like the Lord was so intentional with me in that time. Life was crazy, but Jesus was true. He is love, and He is all these things that He says He is.  He is the only thing to rely on when all of these things are happening. I just feel like the Lord had spent such intentional time with me so I would stay close to him, even during my sister passing away and all of the other stuff.

That’s some of the crazier things that have happened to me, but the Lord taking that time with me was a launch pad that really solidified my trust in Him. He has proven himself over and over in my life, so there is no question when it comes to running after him with everything. It’s cool to reminisce on. I went to a university where often times Christianity felt like checking off boxes, and I had been asking the Lord how to bring this relational aspect back to school.  Not long after talking with the Lord about that, one of my friends was driving me back to school. We were praying over these chronic headaches he had been having for a long time from a car accident, and the Lord miraculously healed him! So it was such a wildly fun time to see all these things, and to be able to go tell my friends what the Lord had done.  There were times when they would say, “Shannon, I don’t even know what to think about this stuff, but because it’s from you I know it’s true.” Everybody knew that my sister had passed away, and they were asking me how I had this kind of joy. To me it was just like… my sister is in heaven! This is a joy! There is definitely mourning and sorrow, but what a sweet testimony the Lord played out in my life.

If I could have dinner with 3 people, I would choose…

This is amazing. TJ, Jamie, and Karen obviously!

In all seriousness, I feel like my people are so random- just a hodge podge of people. Like, who do I want to commit to dinner with? I’d probably say Martin Luther King Jr., Etta James, and Chris Farley. I think it would be so cool to get to hear their stories and their lives more in depth. I’d get all the wisdom from MLK, I’d get singing advice and stories from Etta, and then I would just have a good laugh with Chris.

If I could pick anyone to be my mentor, it would it be…

I feel like I already have them in my life, so that’s amazing! But if I had to choose… Bob Goff. He’s an author and a speaker who wrote Everybody Always and Love Does.  He is this awesome lawyer who is so full of joy and very justice-minded.

This is how my story finding Stand in the Gap goes:

I am from Minnesota, I went to school in Nebraska, and I got placed in Tulsa on a blind internship in 2019. I worked at my church as the director of Christian education for 4 years. It was a small church, so what that translated to was being the discipleship pastor, but also kind of anything and everything I knew how to do. This summer, some people had given my name to Stand in the Gap. One day, all within two hours, I had a bunch of people reach out to me about SITG. My friend reached out and said they knew of a perfect local job for me, another friend told me she was talking with Jamie about me, and another friend called me and said SITG was looking for someone relationally driven, communal, network oriented, and kind of a unicorn. Jamie reached out because they had been hearing my name. They called me to set up an interview and we met at the Collaborative. It was such a fun interview, because I felt like I could just be myself. I was just who the Lord made me to be. Everything they were asking me to do was what I already do on a Tuesday at a coffee shop.

As we met, I just kept laughing because the job description felt like an extension of who I am- networking and building people up. Lots of prayer went into accepting the role, because in the moment it felt like a bomb to drop on my church. Usually with a job like my old one, if people move, they transition to different churches. Other churches had reached out to me, and one church I was talking with was asking me what my dream job description was. I wanted to tell them it was to be a networker and do fundraising, but I was like… that’s not a discipleship pastor’s job, you know? So I couldn’t really tell them that. When I was talking with Jamie, it was such a wow moment- It was THE dream job. In that realization, I prayed for the Lord to prepare the pastors’ hearts at Ablaze church. When I shared the news, one of the pastors said they had already felt this was coming. So I gave SITG my yes, and the transition was sweet.

I would describe the culture of SITG as…

People are called to be here- so I would say called, genuine, and fun!

My favorite bible verse is…

John 10:10! I love how clear it is that Jesus brings life, and only in Jesus do we find life.

John 10:10, NIV

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”

I also love 1 Thessalonians 2:8, because it shows that the Lord is communal. Even in Him being triune, He is communal. It just feels like of clear step of how to act out our lives and actually live the gospel. Sure, you can share the gospel with people- but share your lives with people as well.

1 Thessalonians 2:8, NIV

“So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

My favorite part of Life Launch so far is…

Partnering with the Lord in rewriting peoples’ stories. Shaunte gave me a word from the Lord the other week that the He was going to use me to break generational curses I was not even a part of.  She said to be devoted and really go after this, because people’s lives are going to be changed.