We heart this new, ongoing series–a virtual trip to the coffee shop with organizations to help you go there, serve Him, and love them even better. (For more thoughts about why you might join an agency–and a handful of reasons you might not–make sure to check out He Said/She Said/You Say? “Should I go overseas with an organization?”, both the pros and the cons.)
Today, we’re grabbing an almondmilk mochaccino with OMF (Overseas Mission Fellowship) International.
Tell us what your organization specializes in. What are you passionate about?
OMF aims to see an indigenous biblical church movement in each people group of East Asia, evangelizing their own people and reaching out in mission to other peoples.
We’re not only looking to make individual disciples, but to see whole communities transformed by the Good News of Jesus. East Asia is vast and wide. So in some places that means pioneer church-planting work and in other places that means partnering with local churches to train and support them in mission.
How long have you been around? How large is your organization? What reach does your organization have globally?
OMF was founded by Hudson Taylor in 1865 as the China Inland Mission. In the mid-20th century we faced a “reluctant exodus” from China–and God spread us across East Asia. Since then we changed our name to Overseas Mission Fellowship, and now OMF International.
Today we have over 3,000 cross-cultural workers and support staff across the world.
We’re geared up in particular about two of our ministries: Diaspora and New Horizons.
New Horizons is a sending collaboration with local agencies in countries where OMF does not have a national office. God is sending Christians to East Asia from places like South America, Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, and India.
We love seeing God send his people from everywhere….to everywhere!
Tell us one story that excites you from what God is doing through your organization?
Numbering more than 100,000, the “Sunny” people are poor, subsistence farmers. Traditionally, they hold a mixture of Buddhist and animist beliefs. As of 2012, there were no churches amongst the Sunny and less than 10 Sunny Christians.
That’s when the prayer walks began.
Between 2012-2016, more than 45 prayer walking teams visited “John” (OMF missionary) in Southeast Asia and prayed amongst more than 200 Sunny villages.
As the groups went along, they would not only pray, but also build relationships with the villagers. Sometimes, they would pray for various medical or spiritual needs that some of the Sunny people they met had. One year, a team met a guy who had problems breathing; they prayed for him, and his condition improved. The next year, another prayer walking team went back to his village and the man wanted to be baptized. Others in the village had similar experience. Later, John went back to train a small group of believers. It was the beginnings of a Sunny church.
Today, there are nearly 250 Sunny believers and six Sunny churches. John credits God’s work through the prayer walks as a major reason for the growth.
5 words to describe your organizational culture. Go.
What is distinctive about your organization?
- Our focus on East Asia.
- Our emphasis on prayer.
There are certainly many needs in the world, but God has called us to the people of East Asia.
From Hudson Taylor to J.O. Fraser to thousands of unnamed workers since, OMF has a mind-blowing legacy of seeing God work through the prayers of his people.
Let’s talk Brass tacks. Give us the 411 on your application process and training?
OMF is committed to the long-haul work of church planting and mobilizing in East Asia. Therefore, we have a thorough application and training process.
Each applicant, both long- and short-term is on a mission discipleship journey. Our role is to steward the relationship and care for the person over the long-term. Long-term workers may spend two to three years learning language and culture before moving to their target community. Short-term workers receive training before and after their trip and we also follow-up with them for months after their trip to help them stay involved in God’s mission.
What kind of global workers are you looking for? Paint us a picture.
Since 1865, OMF has been looking for “willing and skilled” workers. A humble, learning attitude is critical for cross-cultural work as well a willingness to use whatever gifts God has given the individual. Every cross-cultural worker is contributing to church planting, no matter what their “job” is.
WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER “RED FLAGS” IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
Anyone who still thinks Christianity is a Western religion and that we have to take the Gospel “over there” would be a cause for concern. In certain pockets in Asia, the church is strong and growing stronger. We want our workers to learn from and partner well with what God is already doing in East Asia.
Tell us anything we missed.
Serve Asia is OMF’s program for those who want to serve East Asia’s peoples for anything from 2 weeks up to 12 months. Our focus isn’t only on “going” in mission and “doing” something. It’s about learning and discovering more about what is at the center of God’s heart. It’s a journey of learning more about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and following him into places that need to hear the Good News. Serve Asia is therefore not just about the short-term, it’s about gaining long-term vision and being part of God’s global mission.
We also have a team of consultants that offers free resources and trainings to help churches discern and develop a strategic significant impact among the unreached. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking in an overseas direction?
Work hard now at knowing God, pursuing holiness, and loving people. Going overseas will not magically make you into a super Christian. If anything you’ll feel weaker and face more spiritual warfare than you have ever experienced in your life. You’ll need a deeply rooted dependence on God to survive and thrive.