Director's Update - May 2017

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OM's Core Values (series)

6. Evangelising the world

OM wants to play a significant part in evangelising the world. On our own, we are miniscule in the face of that task. God’s plan is that we, with as many like-minded organisations as possible, will unite our efforts and resources for greater impact. We need to take a candid view of what will make the difference: working together.

In Luke 24, Christ revealed to His disciples that He would suffer and die and rise again—and that they would bear witness to all this. Could not the One who rose from the dead evangelise the world? Yet His plan is to use His people. We are therefore not arrogant but are simply servants fulfilling His command.

In our present world of seven billion people, 2.3 billion ascribe to some form of Christianity. Those who recognise themselves as true followers of Jesus number over 900 million. However, there are only 400,000 missionaries active today, so each of these would need to evangelise 16,000 people! Only a renewed unity among believers offers any hope, keeping in mind Jesus’ challenge (Jn. 21) that the world will believe that the Father sent His Son only when they observe love between Christians. Two thousand years have passed and there hasn’t been much progress there!

My prayer for OM is that we never become armchair evangelists excelling at desk work but not connecting with people who need Christ. Leaders must set the example, starting with confession that we have allowed our busyness and business to block the lost from our sight. We can put in long days in mission affairs without befriending strangers that God sends our way. Personal evangelism can never be delegated. Let us recapture that zeal and conviction of an earlier era, where team houses emptied regularly for a day of outreach, and training was focused less on personal enrichment and more on ministering to the lost. If not now, when?
 

7. Reflecting the diversity of the Body of Christ

As an organisation, OM is colourful and diverse. That diversity goes beyond culture, race or ethnicity to include ministry style. School dropouts can work side-by-side with PhDs on the same team. There’s a unity in diversity that is tested every day around the world, in good times and bad. As the world becomes more fractured politically and socially, this testimony that reflects the best in the global church is critical to our mission.

In our lifetime, we have witnessed a massive missiological shift. Whereas for centuries ‘from the West to the rest’ defined our methodology, the non-western church now vastly outnumbers those in the West, and has produced top-notch leaders who bring leadership to a new level. Inevitably, there will be clashes in approaches and values, but these can be resolved. However, none of us should resist cooperation by playing a culture card, blaming our shortcomings on cultural differences or a sense of entitlement. A real love for others can rise above this. I met a German couple in Thailand who have so utterly submitted their lives to their host community that, had I closed my eyes, I would have thought all present were Thais. In Asia, we say that one arrow can be easily broken but a fistful cannot. That’s the power of unity in diversity.

‘World Christians’ (not worldly) feel at home anywhere because they possess sufficient humility to be learners ready to serve. We are passionate in OM that our people should be lifelong world Christians. World Christians are an antidote to the growing sense of isolationism in the world. Their allegiance to God’s higher kingdom challenges the status quo.

We can foster this unity in diversity in God’s Church by recognising the gifts, insights and talents of one another regardless of background.

 

EVANGELISM

NORTH AFRICA: MAKE SOME NOISE

Guests at long-term workers Alex* and Mary’s* home are encouraged to share Jesus with their neighbours and friends. When Elise* visited, she participated in the team meeting at their flat. “We had a quite loud worship time,” Mary remembered. So, afterwards she visited the neighbours she and Alex had seen in the stairway but didn’t know well.

“I’m sorry if we made too much noise. Here’s some leftover food!” she apologised. “Oh, what were you doing? We heard the guitar; it was lovely. Were you having a party?” Salma*, the neighbour’s daughter, wondered. “We were singing prayers,” Mary replied. “We’re praying for the country.”

“Like church?” she asked. “I’d like to come to church to see how you [Christians] pray.” Salma asked her mother if she could attend the Easter service and she agreed. That Sunday, the church celebrated two baptisms. One of the local men gave his testimony in Arabic, translated into French. Then the congregation took communion. 

Traditionally, English speakers go to lunch after the service, so they invited Salma to join. While eating, Salma announced that she would like to attend church again. “There was such a joyful, peaceful atmosphere,” she described.

Later, Mary encouraged Elise to give Salma a New Testament and a DVD. She wrapped them and delivered the present next door. After Elise left, Salma attended church a second time with Alex and Mary and expressed interest in returning. Salma’s father said he would also like to visit the church.

Back in her home country, Elise texted Salma to find out how she was doing. “I’m reading the Bible you gave me, and I’d like to go back to church,” Salma wrote back. Pray that Salma and her family would respond to the Bible.

She and her father seemed interested, “but willingness to talk and coming to faith are not the same thing,” Mary shared. Pray that the seeds sown in their lives would bear fruit.

 

TURKEY: LISTEN TO THIS

Turkey AfriAsia Creative Outreach (TACO) is OM’s creative arts ministry in a western city. Its fifteen-member team is made up of musicians, dancers, actors, visual artists and administrators. The team supports church planting in several majority Muslim countries by holding open-air events that use creative arts to share the good news.

The team has a special heart for sharing God’s love and church planting in Turkey. When not abroad, the team hits the streets weekly to sing and share or perform musical dramas they have created. Contacts are invited to fill out a survey for more information, usually receiving a New Testament or DVD. The team then calls the contacts during the following weeks to set up appointments with those who expressed interest in talking more about Jesus.

Recently, Bruce*, a long-term worker, called Refik* who had attended the Yüzyüze (Face to Face) show the TACO team performed one Sunday. He grabbed a DVD, filled out a survey and went home. He watched the DVD over and over, saying that he had finally found what he was searching for. He started praying, “Ya Rab, hayatımı sana teslim ediyorum...” (Oh Lord, I give my life to you), when Bruce called! He was extremely excited to meet up. Refik, in his late 50s, shared how he had been very successful but alcohol and promiscuity lost him self-control and everything else. Now, after listening to the TACO performance, watching the DVD and believing, Refik said that he had peace that no alcohol or pill could ever give him. Bruce and Refik prayed, and Refik received a New Testament and a God Loves You booklet. They look forward to meeting again.

Pray for Bruce as he disciples Refik, and for God to lead others like Refik to the TACO team’s performances. Pray for Turkey during these days of ‘state of emergency’ when other ministries have ceased outreach. Ask for protection on the TACO team as they continue sharing God’s love publicly.

 

RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT

CENTRAL ASIA: A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY

Written by an OM team member:

When we first visited the homeless on the outskirts of one city, it was freezing cold, we were chased by dogs and people were vicious and hostile towards us. This is how our ministry began.

As we persisted in bringing noodles, hot tea and words of hope throughout the winter, people slowly began to accept and trust us. Some have come along to local fellowships. People have started asking us for help escaping homelessness and finding new lives.

One such man is Azamat. We brought him into a rehabilitation house where he began to learn about God and to get his life back on track. His passion for God grew and he is now studying at a seminary.

A great encouragement has been the involvement of the local church which is showing love and sharing faith with the homeless. Praise God that He sees each suffering person. He will not forget, or allow us to forget them.

Please pray that God will send more workers to this ministry and that He will provide finances to allow us to open our own rehabilitation centre.

 

CHURCH PLANTING

RUSSIA: TWO OR THREE GATHER

There are many ethnic groups in Russia; one of them is the Romani people, commonly referred to as ‘gypsies’. Although statistics say that 60% are Christians, a majority of Romani are not really believers. Many live in poor conditions and earn a living by begging.

One day Pavel*, an OM worker, became acquainted with a man from this ethnic group and shared the gospel. The man had problems with his health and his family was very poor. Pavel gave a TV set to them and told his family about God.

Recently, Pavel had a similar opportunity to share the gospel with other Romani. He has been working alongside Romani believers in another city for several years. These friends have relatives who came to Pavel’s city for one day—a great opportunity to tell them the good news. Pavel spent the day with them, accompanied by Romani friends. They found many things to talk about and it was a timely opportunity to share the good news. The guests asked many questions and realised their need for repentance. Seven people in this group, who were not Christians, repented. Moreover, the leader of this group asked the OM worker to record the prayer so that they could use it for other relatives. Pray for the Romani people to seek God and grow in faith.

 

JUSTICE

AUSTRIA: A GUIDE TO NEW DREAMS

OM EAST and partners have published a leaflet in ten languages, entitled You are Beautiful, my Sister, for women trapped in prostitution.

Written by outreach worker Tanja*, the poem inside tells women of the beauty she sees, a beauty that is more than skin deep. It is a letter of love, expressing the Father heart of God, who offers them the new life He intended.

Small teams throughout Europe will bring this message to over 1,000 women working in brothels and on the streets during Easter. With 7,600 copies of You are Beautiful, my Sister in print, its truths will reach thousands in the months ahead as workers continue to speak to individuals and offer hope. “The women have no more dreams,” Tanja shared, “We want to give them new dreams again.”

Please pray for individuals to recognise their true identity and worth. Please pray they find fresh hope to dream, courage to seek help, and discover who God created them to be. Translations are available in Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, English, German, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian and Spanish.

OM EurAsia Support Team’s (OM EAST) literature and media ministry produces high quality print and digital media in over 25 languages. Always working with local partners, we seek to share the gospel, strengthen churches and bring hope to people groups throughout Eurasia.

 

MENTORING & DISCIPLESHIP

CURAÇAO: MORE THAN SKIN DEEP

Tattoos have proved to be powerful illustrations to point a young man to faith in Christ. He was one of those being helped by the Splikami Foundation, a community project that volunteers from Logos Hope are assisting.

James* trained to repair telephones and computers, with the hope of finding a job and a place in society. Growing up in a rough neighbourhood, his heavily-tattooed appearance had become a barrier to that.

Ofasia Wayne (Papua New Guinea) asked him about the designs on his skin.
As James explained the inkwork, Ofasia was struck by how this islander had chosen several permanent expressions of Christian faith.

“He had ‘God loves me’ on his left arm,” says Ofasia. “So I connected it to the Scripture in John 3:16, and shared how God demonstrated His love by sending His one and only beloved son to die for James.”

Ofasia pointed to James’ neck, where the words faith, hope and love were tattooed. “I showed him Bible verses mentioning these. As we talked, James made a decision to follow Jesus, praying in his Papiamento language.”

The team has also been painting the Splikami building and participating in activities with young people with learning difficulties who are supported there through vocational and personal development courses.

An eco-village nearby supplies Splikami with fresh produce. The team spent a week doing all sorts of jobs on the farm and getting to know their fellow workers, visiting them in their homes and praying with them about issues they were facing. One woman was moved to say, “Please keep on sharing God’s deeds in your life to more and more people in the world, so that they may enjoy the true peace which God has given you.”

 

Thank you for your prayers and support of all OM ministries worldwide.

Lawrence Tong
 

* name changed

Credit: OM International · © 2017 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

OM’s role in the Church is to mobilise people to share the knowledge of Jesus and His love with every generation in every nation. OM pioneers and leads initiatives to redeem lives, rebuild communities and restore hope in over 110 countries.

About Director’s Update

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OM's International Director, Lawrence Tong,  highlights important issues, developments in ministry and concerns for prayer and response worldwide. This monthly report is issued digitally.

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