Director Update December 2014

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Dear brothers and sisters,

As I encounter different co-workers and their ministries throughout the OM world, I’m reminded of John 15:16 where Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give you” (NIV). I’ve been thinking a lot about these verses lately and how they fit in to our ministry in OM. I’ve shared before that my desire for OM is that we bear the everlasting fruits of Him who has called us—the fruits of God’s greatness and goodness manifested in our lives and ministries.

God is both great and good. In His greatness, we see His glory. In His goodness, we see His grace. Within the context of OM’s history, we see how His greatness attests to all He is doing through this organisation, and His goodness attests to all He has provided for us. In both, we give Him thanks.

As you read this month’s update, let’s give thanks. It’s good to do so, because it’s what the Lord expects of his children: living lives as sacrifices of thanksgiving (Psalm 107:21–22).

By His grace,

Lawrence Tong

 

Singapore: The first month of the Power Up Logos Hope project has seen great progress. Both generators and the new main switchboard are in place, while different parts of the heat recovery system have been positioned. The extensive work of installing and connecting piping and cables before new systems can be tested remains. “Every week, we are overwhelmed by how God has guided us,” reports OM Ships Marine Superintendent Elon Alva (Australia). Alongside the work on board, “We really enjoy our prayer nights,” says Elon. “This past Saturday night many of us had an excellent night praying with many former ship people at an OM-hosted event.”

At the same time, crew and staff serve around the world in Outbound teams. In Cambodia’s rainy season, a team walked barefoot through mud to to conduct a village medical outreach. Led over a slippery bridge, the team was surprised to see a large church, surrounded by pools of muddy water which locals used for bathing, playing and even cooking. After distributing hygiene packs, the team sang This is the day that the Lord has made. Joyfully, the locals joined in, singing in their own language. “I don’t know if I could wholeheartedly sing this song if I lived in these conditions,” reflected Anastasia Taranenko (Ukraine). Pray with us for God’s blessing on the team in Singapore, the shipyard works and the ministry of the Outbound teams.

 

EVANGELISM

Near East: No matter how often Peter* and his four roommates clean, the house is an uncomfortable place to live in winter. Its only redeeming quality is a small cement patio that offers a place for community. “Arabs love to hang out there,” he said. “For nine months of the year, it’s phenomenal for sharing the Gospel—our best ministry tool, actually.” Local friends show up to play card games, drink tea, watch sports and talk. “It’s our prayer that God uses our house as a place where Muslims encounter the living Lord Jesus,” Peter said. “You’ve got people around you all the time. You learn from others’ experiences, you grow together in faith, in learning the language and the culture, how to share the Gospel and connect with people.”

With local friends sometimes staying until 3 a.m., “we steer conversation from girls or sports to how you’re going to stand before a just judge one day and give an account for everything you’ve done. You start to read [the Bible], to do everything in the prism of how I can better understand this Gospel, and how I can explain this to my Muslim friend,” Peter said. As the men live together, sharing life and sharpening each other spiritually, they grow closer as a team. “We have this common purpose: to build the kingdom of God and be ambassadors of Christ to our friends,” Daniel* said. Pray for spiritual breakthroughs among their friends and neighbours.

Mozambique: Antonio Nipueda, who single-handedly runs a discipleship school in Mocuba and ministries in Mecula, took 30 disciples to bring food and clothing to the needy, and share precious water from their well with neighbours whose well had dried up. Now he has started a project of building houses for people in need. He and his team, with the help of three foreign workers, built two houses in six days! He strives for ‘education for transformation’, starting with a Discipleship School in Mocuba.

The communities are very poor, neglected and exposed to the elements and wildlife; many have seen their crops trampled by elephants or eaten by baboons. The risk of being eaten by lions is present on a daily basis, if straying from populated areas. Yet God uses Antonio as he prays and works. Recently, three people saw his team building houses, distributing clothing and sharing water. Afterward, these three came to him and committed their lives to follow Jesus.

On another occasion in Nampula, he met Sama, who was paralysed and mute because of dark influences of sangomas (traditional healers/witch doctors). He took her to the discipleship training in Mocuba for several months where she was fed and cared for. When she went home, 500 km away, she was suddenly
completely healed: she can walk, wave her arms and sing praises to Jesus at the church she attends. She also has a good job, working with her own hands.

To continue God’s work, Antonio needs more hands and a large truck (3–4 tons) to carry building material for more houses as a testimony to God’s greatness.

 

RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT

Moldova: In 2013, OM’s relief team had given goats to needy families in one village—a project aimed at helping and motivating recipients to action. The goats would provide milk and cheese and in time have young, but the owners would need to care of them. One particular family had not seemed suitable—why would you entrust an animal to alcoholics who don’t take care of their house or even their children? However, from the moment the local church visited them, the family changed: They cleaned the house, painted the walls and planted a garden. They began to read the Bible and ask questions. The message of change and a second chance was illustrated when the visitors came with a special gift: a newborn goat.

Recipients agreed that, when the goats would have their young, the families would pass on one kid to another needy family. A year later, this family got their chance—a great way of multiplying a blessing! Without further expense, more people profited from the previous project, while last year’s recipients learnt that it is a blessing to help others.

Throughout the year, OM’s Relief & Development department helps people and equips them to help themselves. Now in winter, they are coordinating projects which provide firewood, winter clothes and food parcels to those who struggle to survive. Pray that this reaches those who most desperately need it and that it will open their eyes and hearts to God.

Malawi: Like a stone thrown into a pond creates ripples, love shown to children at the OM Chiyembekezo School has brought transformation to the community. Catherine, the head teacher, noticed that Chisomo, six, was dirty when he arrived. He was sickly and struggled with paying attention; many times he laid his head on his hands. Concerned, she visited his home. His mother was hospitalised with premature twins and had left Chisomo with a grandmother who couldn’t walk, yet was taking care of five children. There was no food in the house, and they slept on the floor. Being the rainy season, the roof was leaking, the floor wet and a wall was about to fall into the tiny house.

The OM workers decided to fix the roof. The family was also prayed for, given a reed mat, food, baby clothes and a blanket for the surviving newborn. Catherine took Chisomo to the clinic to recover. When a Muslim lady saw that, and the care provided by the school, she said, “Your school is very different. You care for the children, even outside of school.” Catherine’s passion to meet the physical needs of her students and their guardians is a witness to Muslims in the community.

 

CHURCH PLANTING

Russia: Five years ago, OM prayed about working among Uzbeks in Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia. More and more migrant Uzbek workers were arriving, the men typically construction workers and the women cleaners. A year later, the team hosted a short-term team from Central Asia to explore possibilities. Young people from Kazakhstan met other Central Asians and built relationships. One of the first women they met was Diana*. OMer Bron Cleaver befriended her and helped her through difficult personal issues. She also gave her a Bible. Then Diana returned to Uzbekistan and Bron heard very little from her.

Earlier this year, Diana returned to Novosibirsk and contacted the OM family now planting a church amongst Uzbeks. Very soon after, Diana believed in Jesus and, in July, was baptised in church. Pray that the team will see more Uzbeks added to the church—and that some of them will return to their homeland with a similar passion.

Near East: When Daniel*, a team leader, talks to local men, he always seeks to introduce them to Jesus by a comment containing Scripture, a question considering their future, or an invitation to study the Bible. Often, he begins praying, reading God’s Word and doing Bible studies with men even before they understand the truth of who Jesus is. Sometimes people see God clearly; sometimes ministry is slow and meaningful conversations rare. Daniel prays and prepares to share his hope in Jesus with his Muslim friends.

Fahim* hated the teaching about God from his religious background. He started hanging out with Daniel, often hearing about the God of the Bible. “This is what I want,” Fahim responded. “How can I know this God?” “Surrender your life to Him,” Daniel said. “Believe that what He’s accomplished on the cross, He’s accomplished for you. You can be part of this new covenant of grace with God.” Three years later, after many ups and downs, Fahim’s faith is now firm. “He’s in for the long haul. Christ is his treasure,” Daniel said.

Mahmoud* asked simple questions. “What’s the difference between a nun and a priest?” Then, the questions deepened: “Can you re-explain the necessity of Christ?” Daniel gave Mahmoud a Bible, so he could study Scripture on his own. Together they began a nine-week Bible study. During the study, Mahmoud kept asking questions. “Can I get baptised?” he asked Daniel. Mahmoud’s salvation is what Daniel and his roommates pray for. “At the end of the day, we fall on our faces before Jesus, and say, ‘Please do what I can’t do and save this guy’s soul,’” Daniel said. “We want him to see Christ as his treasure above all other things.”

 

JUSTICE

Hong Kong: Women in tiny brothels, their dreams dashed, their future dim, their souls drained—how? Each has her own story, but there is one hope of redemption: forgiveness and power to change through Jesus Christ. This is the heartbeat of OM’s Companion Ministry. Many women in mainland China hold to a fantasy of marrying men from Hong Kong for wealth, freedom, luxury and security. Yet divorce is widespread and, with it, great shame for these women who legally cannot return home. Under great financial burdens to care for their children and remitting money to their parents, they find little other work that will provide.
For most, the shame keeps them from escaping.

Lily*, divorced twice, has four children. The team met with Lily to pray together and urge her to seek God to be free from her work. Six months later, she left the sex trade and now works as a housekeeper. Clearly, she cannot earn enough to meet her obligations, but she is trusting God for her future. Spiritually, she leads a bi-polar life, attending a church and yet never able to confess and be delivered from guilt and shame. She calls the Companion Ministry team ‘angels’ for bringing her hope, and encourages women everywhere to pray for women like her.

While the Companion Ministry needs women from anywhere who speak Chinese, the answer lies within local churches, where there are tens of thousands who could choose to step out and love these neglected women. Pray that their eyes would be opened to love ‘the least of these’ and that the church in Hong Kong will become known for its compassion, care and commitment for sex trade workers, who otherwise have no hope.

Prostitution is not ‘the world’s oldest profession’. Worshipping and reflecting God is. It is time for God’s people everywhere to help these women return to the latter.

 

MENTORING & DISCIPLESHIP

France: This New Year, OM will be part of a Christian youth festival called Mad in France, delivering a 4D experience of world mission. Held in Valence from 30 December–1 January 2015 and aimed at young people 15–30, Mad in France communicates the Gospel through both dynamic music events and times of discussion and debate. Mad in France invites young people to an incredible experience that may just change their lives. “There is a definite convergence with TeenStreet, in terms of vision and presentation,” says Simon Yeomans, Field Leader. “By linking with Mad in France, OM will raise its profile amongst French youth and offer them hundreds of different options for serving in missions around the world.”

A project of this scale requires significant infrastructure and OM needs the generosity of French Christians to help with builders, actors and small group leaders. “However, it is worth the effort to inspire young people to share the love of Christ in their daily life, wherever the Lord has put them,” Simon explains. “We want to open their eyes to the needs of this world and challenge them to think about getting involved in mission, whether short- or long-term.” Pray that many young people will enter a lifetime of mission as a result. www.mad2014-start.com

 

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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