Director's Update - July 2014

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Dear brothers and sisters,

The WACA (Western and Central Asia) area retreat last month in Turkey saw leaders and staff from various fields and ministries coming together for a time of bonding, reporting on ministry, sharing of vision, extended times of prayer and feeding on God’s Word. The highlight for me was the testimonies from various workers who, out of their passion in bringing the Gospel to unreached peoples, are serving in some of the remotest areas of the world. The DNA of OM as a pioneer mission movement is still evident today in many OM fields. 

We as a movement are blessed with great men and women of God who are committed to the Great Commission and are willing to pay the cost to be in the frontline of spiritual battlefields. Let us not forget that the life, health and effectiveness of OM depends on whether people are willing to intercede for the work and to seek God’s direction and empowering. OM was founded on prayer. Prayer fuelled OM, and OM will continue to thrive on prayer.

EM Bounds once wrote, “What the Church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organisations, or more novel methods; but men (and women) whom the Holy Spirit can use—men (and women) of prayer, men (and women) mighty in prayer.”

Thank you for praying for us all these years.

By His Grace,
Lawrence
 

evangelism

Nepal: “We were waiting for you to do something wrong,” the man said to two young members of a Village Partnership Team (VPT) after six months, “but you never did.” The villagers were realising that this team was different. Some men waited for an opportunity to accuse them of wrong and turn them in to the police. “Instead we see that you did many good things for our village,” one of the leaders explained. “If you come again, we will send many villagers to your classes and will listen to you.” Resistance to the Gospel is not uncommon, yet drastic transformation can occur; after the team returned to Kathmandu, they heard that three people had come to faith and started attending church. A VPT member will return to that church to check on them.

VPT teams establish relationships with the community and offer various training in literacy, skills, etc. By asking people what difficulties or challenges they face, and allowing them to choose which ones to focus on, it creates a sense of ownership over the project. OM’s hope is that villagers come to understand that we are not there to make religious converts, but disciples of Jesus Christ who will bring spiritual and physical transformation to their communities. 

Logos Hope: In answer to prayer for God to bring the right people on board during the visit to Japan, a 30-year-old man walked up the gangway in Kanazawa. Local port volunteer Toyoko Banyama greeted him. He asked for a wheelchair, explaining that he was in the late stages of leukemia. He had heard about Logos Hope coming to Kanazawa through a television ad and came because he felt a stirring in his heart. He had received special permission from his doctor to be released to visit the ship. With a friend, he travelled three hours from the Toyama prefecture to come on board. “I told him about Jesus, why he came and why Jesus had to die for our sin,” Toyoko said. “Jesus is very powerful and he is able to heal you because he rose again. The man cried so much.” Toyoko and a crewmember prayed for him and he accepted Christ. “I hope the Holy Spirit would touch him and heal him from the disease,” Toyoko said. A Japanese crewmember also put the man in touch with a local church.

Moldova: A worker relates: I had gone inside the Bus4Life to rest after the programme, when two men appeared. Inviting them in for coffee, I started explaining the Gospel to them. At the most important part, one said he‘d go outside to smoke. I was determined to share what God had put on my heart, so the other man and I followed him outside and continued to talk on the street. Others passing by started to listen to our conversation and a group of 15–20 children surrounded us, paying close attention. 

When I talked about the sacrifice of Jesus, his resurrection and eternal life, one of the men hardened, while the other received the message with joy. The first man mocked the other, saying, “Are you going to cry? Don‘t be a weakling!” I told him it is better to cry over your sin than to be hard, remain in sin and eventually go to hell. At this, the first man left, but the other man and the children remained, impatient to hear more. Asking if they wanted to pray to God to forgive their sin and save them, they all said, “Yes, of course we want to!” 

A woman in the crowd rebuked the man: “You are stupid! Do you want everyone to laugh at you?” She also said that there is no resurrection or eternal life, but the children contradicted her. After some discussion, she left. Tired, I went into the bus and closed the doors, eager to rest—but suddenly noticed that the man and the children were waiting expectantly. I had forgotten to pray with them! I went outside immediately and there on the street, in the middle of the village for all to see and hear, they prayed in repentance.
 

relief & development

Kosovo: Beaded yarn necklaces lay across the coffee table. “I use my own creativity. I make anything that will work well and turn out beautifully,” says Gjylfidona. After many years in an abusive marriage, Gjylfidona went to a local Kosovar shelter for domestic violence victims. “At first I knitted to release stress and to relax, but now it has also become a way to support myself and my children,” says Gjylfidona. While living in the shelter, she met Daniela*, an OM team member and director of Operacioni i Mëkëmbjes (Operation Restoration), a social reintegration programme for domestic violence and trafficking victims. After training in microbusiness, she decided to knit as a means of income. In 2013, she joined another domestic violence survivor to open a microbusiness store in a nearby city, selling knitted items, jam products and souvenirs.

Beginning a microbusiness has not solved all of her economic trials. “The hardest thing is when my children and I have to lack something in order to buy new materials,” she shares. Despite this, Gjylfidona consciously buys the best-quality yarns for her products. It is still a struggle to keep the store open, since it is only the first year of business. However, she has also begun to export her products to buyers in England. The hobby that began as a simple stress-reliever has turned into an empowering business venture. “I think each woman should work first for herself and for her children,” Gjylfidona says.

Cambodia: During the Pol Pot regime (1975–1979), urban dwellers were relocated to work in collective farms and forced labour. More than 70% of rural children aged 3–5 have no opportunity for early education. Many are left at home while their parents work in fields; some have succumbed to serious injuries due to lack of adult supervision. Mercy Teams International (MTI; OM’s mercy arm in Southeast Asia) runs a preschool and church about two hours’ drive from the capital, Phnom Penh, which provides education, social interaction, skills development, safety education and Christian values. An Out of the Comfort Zone (OCZ) team spent three days teaching English and organising. They also visited MTI’s Dorcas Women’s Sewing Group, where rural women with young children are provided an alternative means of employment. The team helped paint the interior of a community centre in Doem Sleng slum in Phnom Penh. Participant Chong Cia Ling (25) from Malaysia said, “It made me realise that we not only want to bring people to God, but we should bring God to people.”
 

church planting

Bangladesh: The team helps those around them have greater opportunities to become the people God intended them to be through learning skills and seeing His transforming power in families and communities. Zed* grew up in a large, religiously conservative family. He left school before graduating, but it was hard to find a job. He heard about a residential mechanics’ training programme and, although it was run by followers of Jesus, he joined. Through the training, he heard God’s Word, which touched him. He was impressed by the lives of his trainers. By the end of the course, he put his faith in Jesus and started to study God’s Word in depth. However, Zed’s family were furious, and he was forced to leave the area for some time.

His family chose a wife for him from a wealthy family, hoping her dowry would help their poor financial situation. Zed saw things differently: She was not a follower of Jesus, so he refused to marry her. He later married a believer, Hemu,* though she was from a poor family. Zed and Hemu set to work to restore family relations and, over time, God has blessed their endeavours.

God has also given them work to do. They live on the edge of a refugee camp where he offers vocational training. The camp is home to over 20,000 refugees who have lived in cramped and squalid conditions for over 40 years, shunned by many—one of the most unreached groups in the country. Zed works tirelessly to reach this community with the good news. Some women from the community have followed Jesus. Zed understands the cost involved. He longs for men to come to faith in Jesus and, one day, for a small fellowship of believers to meet regularly in the camp. 

Romania: Short-term workers Rebekka and Markus, from Switzerland, spent three months serving with the OM Transit team. Rebekka shares an emotional testimony after an outreach: “During the days in the little town of Amara, we visited neighbouring villages where we were blessed to meet so many lovely people! One day we visited a blind couple and two elderly women. Their families and neighbours heard that a team of foreigners were coming and they all gathered to meet us and listen to what we had to share. We sang songs, prayed and shared the Gospel message.

While saying our goodbyes, we saw tears in their eyes. The elderly and the blind said they all felt guilty that they couldn’t go to church anymore because of their age and disability. We reminded them that the church is not a building but the people who serve the Lord. It deeply moved them that God had sent the church to their home, and that these young people came from all over the world to pray for them.” 
 

justice

Greece: Nea Zoi (NewLife) is an appropriate name for an organisation whose sole purpose is to help women get off the streets and into a new life. These women were tricked, coerced or kidnapped into selling their bodies to earn money. Human trafficking, though a global epidemic, is painfully evident in Greece. Rosie Hooton (UK) has served passionately (and compassionately) in this street ministry for almost four years. Her team goes faithfully to the streets in the middle of the night to befriend these forgotten ones, building on relationships or starting new ones. 

Six of these ladies have made a commitment to Christ and are being discipled. They are being taught sewing and bag making to earn an honest income and regain dignity in the community. The sewing class is in the process of registering to be recognised as a small business. Pray that this outreach will mobilise local believers to show the love of Christ, and that redeemed women will find acceptance in churches and be able to lead new productive lives. 
 

mentoring & discipleship

New Zealand: OM’s new Off The Grid discipleship programme inspires young adults to live their life for God and to serve others. Using team-building, outdoor adventure sports and a carefully designed study curriculum, participants are led through a journey of self-discovery. “One of the greatest challenges participants will face during this 10-week discipleship programme is the media fast,” said Stephen Brandon, OM field leader. “Imagine a group of young people in a van on remote roads with no digital devices; confined to the community of the team without access to family and friends via social media. We want to help participants re-develop community and realise their own potential, be it through fitness, community…or lack of gadgets.

While doing evangelism and training, our main focus will be on discipleship and leadership. We want participants to walk away with a new understanding of how they can be used by God in their daily lives,” noted Stephen. Preparations for the first intake of Off the Grid participants in October 2014 are underway.

Zimbabwe: Since 2010, OM has traversed the country, mobilising the church to send workers to go and make disciples of all nations. One of the greatest means is through the Month of Prayer. OM gathers information for a particular focus group and publishes prayer guides for troubled areas and countries, the Arab world, and for selected areas in Africa. The team distributes the prayer booklets to churches to form a prayer network that prays 24/7 for the 31 days of May.

In 2014, the focus is on Asia and the guide is available in Shona and English, with plans to include Ndebele. Over 120 churches were involved in this year’s Month of Prayer. In Bulawayo, one pastor remarked, “We had resolved as a church to focus on prayer, but we lacked purpose; this booklet comes to fill that void.” In Masvingo, one pastor queried, “How are we Christians different from Muslims?” generating a debate that culminated in a request for training on the subject. 

Tinashe Mafuta, OM’s church relations co-ordinator, said “We are often given time to speak about missions in churches, but the prayer booklet has more information about missions and stays with the recipient churches. We also have adverts about other opportunities in missions.”


On behalf of all our workers representing over 110 nations in more than 115 countries, I thank you for your prayers and support.

By His grace.

Lawrence Tong

* names changed for security reasons

Credit: OM International · © 2014 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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Director’s Update - November 2013


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