Core values are an essential factor in determining the culture of any organisation, whether a corporation, mission or church. They influence our focus and strategy and help to define how we approach opportunities and challenges, our philosophy and attitudes—what we do (and don’t do) and why. Currently, OM has nine core values, which may be too many to meaningfully absorb and follow. At some point in our future, we will re-visit whether these best describe our ethos or if we can refine them into a smaller set (perhaps five) that are easy to translate and contextualise.
The challenge is to take them from our documents and have them permeate and guide our thinking and actions. Otherwise, they will remain effectively worthless yet noble platitudes. When different groups’ views diverge widely, core values provide a solid way of mediating disputes. For example, as a baseline when handling cases of abusive leadership, they call all of us equally to a high standard.
Any organisation’s leaders need to believe in them and then transmit them to each generation of workers. As International Director, I need to increase my own commitment to uphold them. When we really understand our ideals, we will want to promote and celebrate them, because they are a big part of what makes OM, or any other organisation, distinct.
We can be very big on mentoring, but that process is usually one-way. What if we encourage co-mentoring between peers—say for six months—where two people together work through the application of core values in their lives? Why not start in your team to encourage each other to discover new ways to make these core values even more influential in what we do together?
Knowing and glorifying God should be a self-evident ideal, yet it is so easy to pay it lip service. Pursuing this as a daily, conscious discipline takes time to develop into a habit and eventually a lifestyle. With Paul, we can say that we haven’t fully achieved that yet, but we press on in that direction (Phil. 3:14). Knowing and glorifying God is the fruition of thousands of daily decisions and is reflected in our attitudes, words and actions.
I know of a number of people who, through a life of daily discipleship, exhibit this desire as a spiritual reflex. Of course, they have gone through trials of many kinds that have refined them in this process—something we can overlook. Iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17); choosing to be among godly people will rub off on us. OM has had a special spirit that has drawn many to join—passionate and focused on Christ and the lost (no place too far, no task too difficult). As each of us strives for reality in this core value, it will resonate with many and could become our greatest recruiting force.
Knowing and glorifying God requires us to live by His Word. Honouring God means loving Jesus and everything that He encompasses (Jn. 14:21). Of course, that means loving His people (1 Jn. 3:10), and we all know that is a big ask! And yet what greater testimony is there than that we be as one before Him and the world (Jn. 17:20–23)? Love cannot be forced. There is nothing of value in outward obedience with gritted teeth or a bitter or frustrated heart. That’s why our journey begins with loving the Father and the Son, out of which it is possible to love one another.
SOUTH SUDAN: READING TO CHANGE
Since 1975, Apaya Bookshop has provided hope, inspiring change at personal and political levels. OMers Tony, Jafar and Moses run the small shop, while volunteers host sales tables often in front of churches, and sometimes outside of mosques. English, the bookshop’s business manager and acting OM leader, said the bookshop’s purpose is that every person will have the ability to read the Word of God—and understand it.
Pastors pick up books to distribute to churches. The team also delivers books to schools. From English’s perspective, perhaps the most exciting demographic is the city’s youth. “When we receive books, lots of youth come to the bookshop because they are excited; God is doing this among this generation,” he said.
One morning, a mother came in, carrying her sick baby girl. She announced, “I want you to pray for this baby. I don’t have money for the hospital.” Tony took the baby in his arms, prayed for her, and suggested: “Let’s give the mother money to go to the clinic.” Six days later, she returned with her daughter healed. The mother knelt in front of them, but English urged her to stand up. “I’ve come to thank you,” she said.
Another day, South Sudan’s Minister of Transportation entered, surrounded by bodyguards. English gave her a Bible and some books. Two days later, she returned. “I am so happy,” she told him, “The books I took from you really changed my life. In the government, we don’t speak the truth. Sometimes things are not going straight. Through the books, I know that I’m doing wrong.” She met English again at a book table in a church. “Thank you,” she repeated. “Everywhere I go, I see you. There will be change in South Sudan through these books.” Praise God for Apaya Bookshop’s ministry!
ISRAEL: REVIVING LANGUAGE
Yossi is a Jewish believer who is outspoken about his faith in Jesus. Depending upon the audience, he might speak directly about Jesus or he might speak about God from the Tanak (Old Testament) and over time build towards a conversation about salvation in Jesus.
One day, working alongside a co-worker, Yossi received some news that caused him to blurt out, “Hallelujah!” His co-worker said to him, “I didn’t know you were a Christian.”
“What do you mean?” asked Yossi. “You said ‘hallelujah’. That’s a Christian word,” he responded.
“What are you talking about? Hallelujah is two Hebrew words: Hallel (praise) and Yah (God). It’s in the Tanak. There’s no word more Jewish than this one,” said Yossi, stunned that a native-born Jewish Israeli could not know that hallelujah is a Hebrew word of praise. It showed how the average Israeli can know little about the Scriptures. Please pray for secular Israelis to come to know the God of the Bible and understand how the Scriptures point to Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah.
GUYANA: WATER OF LIFE
In Georgetown, the only way for a Logos Hope team to reach a group of villages was to travel upriver by boat. Pastor Lall has been planting churches along the river for over 20 years and now oversees 24 churches, all of which have trained local pastors. Since the river communities lack access to clean water, Logos Hope crewmembers installed nearly 20 water purifiers and trained people how to maintain them. “People living on the river understand that the water can make them sick, but often they have no choice,” said Tim Whitson (US). “If there is no rainwater, or if it’s contaminated, they have to travel by boat several hours to buy bottled water.” Many families have eight to 10 children; even if the family can make the trip, they cannot afford enough for everyone.
One pastor explained that when the land floods, worms float to the surface of the water. Propellers from passing boats chop up the worms; when people drink the water, it makes them sick. “When people drink this water they get dysentery, or cholera, and most children end up in hospital,” said the pastor. The ship’s team visited seven communities in all, installing two water purifiers in each: one at the church, and one in a community centre or school. Several men from other communities came for training so that they could take water purifiers back to their own areas. One filter can produce 600 litres of clean water a day—enough for 300 people. “Now we can purify water ourselves and have it at all times. We can be ready for whatever!” exclaimed one man. “They are expecting it to rain a lot in the coming weeks,” said Tim. “They saw this as God working to bring fresh water to this area when they needed it.”
COLOMBIA: FINALLY FREE
“Only God knows how much I have awaited this moment!” Adela said with tears when she finally had the opportunity to be baptised during the encounter called Woman, you are free (Mujer, eres libre), a ministry created in partnership with OM and a local church and led by Martha Ardila.
It took place at the Cartagena Women’s Prison over the course of two days, with 60 women participating, of whom 20 were baptised. They were taught about the cross of Christ, forgiveness, freedom of guilt and rejection and baptism.
Many of the women are released from jail shortly after this yearly event, which causes them to anticipate this special encounter eagerly. The women consider it proof of God’s presence among them and within their lives, and the physical freedom that often follows the spiritual freedom stirs their faith.
One week after the encounter, 10 ladies were declared free from jail. Adela and all the other women know that no jail and no bars can keep captive their spirit, which was freed from sin by the power of Jesus.
TURKEY: FEEDING BODY & SOUL
Turkey has an estimated 2.6 million refugees, with its large cities inundated as these desperate people try to find work to feed their children.
Toward the end of last year Marlize*, a married mother of three, couldn’t watch any longer. She asked her pastor what their church could do to help, and together they decided to take responsibility for one day a week at the local refugee centre. They also committed to distributing 100 boxes of food at a cost of $25 US each, every week. They didn’t know where the funds would come from but, through friends around the world and God’s faithfulness, they have been able to keep their commitment.
“I wanted to help with refugees but was not able to do it,” said Marlize’s pastor, James. “Thanks to the OM team, we are able to respond.” The team is helping mobilise the Turkish church to respond to spiritual needs as well. According to the team, it’s difficult keeping up with the constant demand for Inçils (New Testaments) from the growing number of Arabic- and Farsi-speaking refugees.
An old man approached OMer Lexi* and asked what she was holding. Lexi told him that it was an Inçil. “In Arabic?” he asked. The old man’s big smile and surprised face was a wonder to behold when Lexi replied, “Yes!” and placed it in his hands.
OM Turkey is involved in four refugee projects where it seeks to esteem and mobilise the Turkish church. They are also launching a new team whose mission is to reach refugees. The two greatest needs are funds and Arabic speakers who can share and proclaim the gospel.
“We have two Arabic speakers on the field,” said the Field Leader James, “but I’ve received a phone call from a Yazidi family who want to know more about Jesus.”
SOUTH ASIA: GIFT OF HEALTH
In a remote village in one of the hardest-to-reach villages in South Asia, an OM team saw a community with only six believers grow to 11 last year. One couple decided to follow Jesus because the wife, Susita, had been ill and was told by the team that God heals. She attended church and was healed when Christians prayed for her. She and her husband, Babu, both prayed to receive Christ as their Saviour and, a few months later, Babu was asked to lead the small fellowship of believers.
This is the reality in many remote parts of the country: Soon after becoming a believer you can be given responsibility for the spiritual growth of a community that has no pastor or local church. In spring 2016, an OM follow-up team was sent to visit Babu and the community of believers and provide more training. They used the Healthy Families course, which talks about basic hygiene and sanitation, to improve health knowledge in rural communities. “We taught about washing hands and what germs are. We also taught basic first aid things in case of burns [a common danger to village children],” Tabitha explained. “Much of this was new to them.”
Of the 22 participants, one was a father who had recently lost a son, and whose other six-year-old son was sick with similar symptoms. “They don’t know not to put extra clothing on a child when it’s sick.” Tabitha said. “So we taught about using a wet washcloth on their forehead, giving a little paracetamol (Tylenol) to alleviate the fever, and opening windows to let in fresh air and light.” The thankful father went home to use this new information; by the next day he saw a change. “Before I didn’t know any of these things, but thanks to you, I can care well for my sick child,” he told Tabitha.
Through this training, more people in the village were open to attending the local fellowship, and the Christians were discipled in practical ways to minister to their community. OM teams will continue to visit this village, and others like it, to provide a variety of practical and biblical training to disciple believers and draw others to Christ. Teams are always looking for more trainers and evangelists who have a heart for the least reached and want to be involved in God’s work.
Thank you for your prayers and support of all OM ministries worldwide.
* name changed
Credit: OM International · © 2017 OM International