Meet Mission ONE’s New President Olivia Mulerwa

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We’re thrilled to introduce to you Mission ONE’s new President, Olivia Mulerwa!

Olivia has already been serving Mission ONE as interim President since January this year and as Programs Director before that. Olivia has years of experience in international development, human rights, and international education. Equipped with two Master’s Degrees in law and international business, Olivia has worked for the Ministry of Justice of Rwanda, where she authored Rwanda’s first National Human Rights Policy and worked closely with the UN.

Combining her extensive experience in international relationships and education, Olivia brings a fresh perspective and cultural intelligence to her role at Mission ONE. She leads our team with enthusiasm and builds avenues for cross-cultural learning as we work together with our international partners.

We know that her appointment to this role is in line with God’s call and purpose for Mission ONE. We’re certain that the vision and leadership he has equipped her with will greatly enrich the ministry work of Mission ONE.

“I’m confident that Olivia will lead Mission ONE forward with humility and integrity. She has a heart to follow Christ and to keep Mission ONE focused on his mission. Olivia has exceptional gifts, skills, education, and experience that God will use mightily to serve our indigenous partners—and their work to spread the gospel of Christ and make communities more like his Kingdom.” –Bob Schindler, Founder of Mission ONE

We took a few moments to sit down with Olivia to hear more about her experience, how she came to be the President, and her vision for the organization moving forward.

How long have you been at Mission ONE now, and what has your role been until now?

I joined Mission ONE because I bought into the vision of the organization.

I worked alongside the previous President as the Programs Director since July 2021.

Since January, I’ve been Interim President. I was focused on keeping things moving and keeping the team steady in that role. Now that I am formally President, I’m spending a lot of time thinking about how God wants to use me at Mission ONE. I’m ensuring that I’m leaning into the unique skill set that I bring to the organization.

Speaking of vision, what’s yours for Mission ONE as you step into this role? 

One of the advantages of having been an Interim President and coming in as the Program Director is getting to know everything about who we are without the pressure of having to also lead. The last nine months have been preparing me for this. It’s the best education I could have had because I got to know the organization well.

My vision for Mission ONE is to remember the fundamentals of who we are as a Ministry and what God has called us to do. That means centering the gospel and gospel impact in everything that we do. Mission ONE exists to partner with National ministries to bring the gospel to unreached peoples. That will remain the guiding agenda for all we do. Because our work is at the intersection of development and ministry, we need to always be mindful that we exist not just to send girls to school, not just to address matters of economic poverty. First, we exist to speak to spiritual poverty to bring the gospel to unreached people. That is who Mission ONE is and has been for over 30 years. Everything else we do is about helping communities to be more like the Kingdom of God, first, by knowing Jesus and being spiritually healthy. Then second, meeting economic needs in order to demonstrate the love of God for his people.

Another key part of the vision is to make sure that we hold ourselves accountable to always put our partners first. Our goal is to center our partners in everything we do. That looks like honoring them and the direction they want to take the ministry because they are in the context, and they understand the needs more intimately and more broadly than we ever could.

Part of how we honor our partners is through good stewardship of ministry resources. I recently came back from a mission trip to Kenya with some of our team. When you visit with our partners and sit with them, you realize just how much impact our work together is having.

For example, Mission ONE, together with partners in Kenya, have built the first all-girls high school in North Pokot, a remote part of Kenya. But when you consider the minimal resources we had to do that—it’s mind-blowing. That’s what is beautiful about these kinds of partnerships—to sit in a resource-wealthy country and use that position to bless our partners and provide the resources needed to do this very important work for the Kingdom of God.

Can you tell us more about your recent Kenya trip with Bob, the Mission ONE Founder?

Absolutely! I’m from East Africa. I was born in Uganda, so I’ve been to Kenya many times. But going to Kenya with Bob and experiencing Kenya through his eyes was a very unique and beautiful experience. Honestly, one of the greatest advantages of being President of Mission ONE now is that I get to sit with Bob and have him share that original vision with me.

We went to the place in Kijabe Town where God first gave him the vision to start Mission ONE and to come alongside national ministries like NEO Kenya that we’ve now been in partnership for 30 years.

It was incredible to meet all the Kenya partners. For me, there was just a natural kinship there because I saw myself in them. This trip to Kenya was a confirmation for me that God wants to do something special in this season at Mission ONE.

How has your previous work prepared you for this opportunity in leadership?

I’ve had the opportunity to experience different cultures. I grew up in Uganda, and I’ve visited and worked in South Africa, Germany, Rwanda, and now the US. To experience my faith in different places and see how God shows up and how people express their faith has had a huge impact on my work here at Mission ONE. We all experience our faith differently through our own cultures, but we’re all ultimately united in our faith.

I never thought that I would have the opportunity to work directly in ministry in this way. I went to Law School, and I thought I would serve God by advocating for people to have justice.

Looking back on my journey to this point, I see God’s providence and guidance leading me to be here at Mission ONE, now. I’m expectant to see what God has in store for our ministry. I felt it so strongly when I met with our partners in Kenya. When I spoke to Janet, who leads the sewing ministry in Eldoret, I could so easily see myself in her. We are both African women, mothers around the same age, looking to serve God and honor his call in the best way we can. I completely identify with her, and I think that connection is a unique gift.

Mission ONE started with Bob’s experience in East Africa and a calling from God. This opportunity to lead Mission ONE more than 30 years later, as an East African, is a beautiful illustration of how intentional this organization is about walking alongside indigenous leaders to glorify God and bring honor to all people. Of course, we have partners all over the world, but there’s something special about connecting back to the place this ministry started.

Tell us about your family. Where are you from originally? 

I’m married, and I have a four-and-a-half-year-old son. I see a role like this as something that the whole family takes on, so it’s very important for me and my husband to be invested in Mission ONE as a family. We see it as a ministry that we’ll grow old taking part in. I was born in Uganda. My family is Ugandan and Rwandan. I’ll always be an African woman before anything else, and I will always bring the perspective of an African woman to everything that I do.

How can people be praying for you in this new role as President?

Pray for wisdom, pray for direction, pray for peace. That God will give me peace because I don’t take this responsibility lightly. It’s a big responsibility to lead a ministry where the Founder is still actively involved and you have a 30-year-old legacy to live up to.

I’ve been reading the Old Testament and looking back to the time in Exodus when God called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt. Moses had all his excuses. I have a stammer, and I can’t talk. God said, “It’s not about you and how eloquent or able you are to talk. If anything, you shouldn’t be eloquent because it’s about you being a messenger for me, and I will give you the words, so you don’t need to worry.” He then said, “ How are they going to respect me?” He didn’t know how he would lead Israel when he wasn’t even accepted as a Jewish person because he grew up in an Egyptian household. He suffered from severe imposter syndrome, to use modern parlance,  but look how God used Moses. When you look back, you remember Moses as a great leader and father of our faith. We remember him for leading Israel out of Egypt to the promised land. We don’t remember how he started. As I journey through the Bible recently, I’m really blessed and encouraged by how God always uses flawed people. It is in our weakness, that we experience his grace and provision the most. So when I think about my time in leadership over Mission ONE, I pray that God will use me to accomplish his purposes ultimately for his glory. That is my prayer and I welcome the Mission ONE community to pray with me for this.

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