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Young Girl Authors, Illustrates Book to Help Friend's Family Raise Missions Budget

She may be only 9, but Olivia Rousu's book is making an impact on lives as it raises money for a missionary associate family.
When 9-year-old Olivia Rousu learned her friend, Gabriella Reed, who is 6, was going to go to Mexico to tell other people about Jesus with her family, she was sad her friend was going to move away, but she also wanted to help them go tell other people about Jesus.

Olivia’s quest to help her friend ended up with her publishing a 31-page book that has raised over $2,000 for the Reeds!


“Olivia bought a Buddy Barrel (bank) during kids camp last summer to collect money for Gabriella and her family to go to Mexico as missionaries,” says Lindsay Rousu, Olivia’s mother. “Then a month later, during family camp, Gabriella and Olivia came up with the idea of drawing pictures and selling them for 10¢ each. So they did – they walked around the camp and sold pictures and raised $100!”

Lindsay says that many people gave more than 10¢ for the pictures, but what was really important was many of the families stopped and prayed over them.

When Olivia came back from family camp, she wanted to continue to raise money for the Reed family. She came up with the idea of writing her own books and selling them.

“We had these blank books and she created some books to sell at a neighborhood block party,” Lindsay says. “She didn’t sell a single one — she was devastated.”


Olivia went back to the drawing board — literally. Lindsay suggested that Olivia just make one really good book and then they could self-publish it on Amazon. Olivia liked the idea. So, she wrote a story and spent hours drawing the illustrations for the story.

“I really enjoyed drawing all the fun pictures,” Olivia says. “On one Saturday I sat for 12 hours drawing pictures, 29 pictures in all . . . drawing in all the details was the hardest part.”

The name of the book is Romeo the Missionary: A cat tale about living out your calling. Romeo is actually one of Olivia’s favorite plush animals. In the story, Romeo shares about the importance of following God’s direction and sharing the gospel — whether it’s as a missionary to another country or simply as a friend to his or her friends.

“We talked about the story, but what I mainly did was some light editing — she created the whole story — and then I uploaded the images and did the computer layout,” Lindsay says. “It is her book.”

Lindsay, however, admits that her vision for the book was limited — hopefully selling a few books to family members and maybe some close friends . . . it hasn’t quite worked out that way.


When the first colorful paperback books arrived, Olivia sold her first copies to close friends and family members.

A couple months later, she was invited to tell people at her church, Life Assembly Church (pastored by Dale and Jayna DeMell) in Maple Grove, Minnesota, about the book and why she created it.

“She raised roughly $700 for the Reeds that day,” Lindsay says. “It was really cool to see how her story renewed people’s passion for missions.”

Once the weather warmed up, Olivia and her family went down their street, selling her book door-to-door. It soon became apparent to Lindsay that as Olivia was telling people the story behind her book, she was also sharing the gospel with people, living out what her book is all about.


Micah and Laura Reed, Gabriella (6), Micah Jr. (3) and Dylan’s (1) parents, pastored for 15 years, and then a couple of years ago, they felt God leading them to become missionaries to Latin America.

“It was in God’s timing,” says Laura. “Last year we applied to become missionary associates with AG World Missions. We’ve been itinerating (raising funds) for about a year and God has opened the door for us to go to Aguascalientes (Hot Waters), Mexico, as soon as we raise our budget (currently at 60%).”

However, Olivia’s book has been more than an inspiration to them; they’ve found it to be an inspiration and resource to other people wherever they go.

“We take along some of Olivia’s books and we sell them at our missions table after a service — it really has helped a lot of people understand missions a lot better, especially those not from the AG world,” Laura says. “It has also inspired kids to follow their dreams and do whatever their gifted in for Jesus.”

Micah agrees, noting that missions seen through the lens of a child brings a unique perspective, and how it’s important to remember that kids are a massive part of missions work – both in their support through programs like Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge and in turn, reaching kids with the gospel message.

“It has also created a neat opportunity to encourage parents and grandparents,” Micah says. “If God places something on your kid’s heart, ask yourself what can you do to see that become a reality? We (as Christians) believe we need to have childlike faith. So, if a kid in our family or church believes God has something for them to do, then we need to have the faith to help them with what God has asked them to do.”


So far, Olivia’s book has raised more than $2,000 for the Reeds to go to Mexico, with sales continuing. Her book also inspired another friend, Kira, to write a sequel, with help from Lindsay and Olivia. It’s titled: Romeo the Missionary 2: A cat tale about telling others about Jesus, which also helps support the Reeds.

What makes the amount raised so impressive is that the books Olivia sells in person for a $10 donation, result in $5 profit raised for the Reeds; books sold on Amazon sell for $10.99, but only $2.40 per sale is made.

“It takes a lot of book sales to raise over $2,000,” Lindsay says, noting that another 100 books were set to be delivered to their home the day of the interview. “God has absolutely exceeded our expectations — we had no idea it would get to this point!”

And aside from the book itself, the whole experience has been a series of positive takeaways for Olivia.

“What other kids can say they published a book at that age?” Lindsay asks with a laugh. “The learning experiences, the spiritual growth experience, developing her heart for missions, learning how to talk to people about Jesus and missions — so many good things she has gained through this experience.”

And for Olivia, she’s just excited about helping out her friends with the book, and that people like her book. But when asked what she thinks Jesus thinks about her efforts and the book, her answer, in many ways, reflects that childlike faith as she pauses and then simply responds:

“Hmm, probably, ‘Awesome.’”

Who’s to argue?

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.