Director's Update - July 2015

Download as PDF (455 kb)

Dear OM friends,

The end of June marks 50+ days of extensive travel for me visiting OM fields. Winding up my visit to Norway, I have three more stops—Germany, Switzerland and USA—and then it is back to Singapore. The purpose throughout is to honour partners of OM for their trust in reaching the lost with the Gospel. This, of course, includes all OMers, many of whom have faithfully laboured for decades and often have financially sacrificed to advance the Gospel.

While July will be quieter for me, it is quite the opposite for OM, which is busy with mission conferences and outreaches that include TeenStreet, where nearly 2500 youth from 43 European nationalities (4000 participating in total) will spend a week in Bible study and learning about mission. Transform 2015 focuses on the peoples of the Mediterranean; 300 will meet from 13–18 July in praise and preparation before going throughout the region for 2+ weeks of outreach.

Out of the Comfort Zone in Malaysia likewise prepares participants for short-term mission trips to other parts of Asia. There is ongoing evangelism in Southern Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East—and Logos Hope visiting the ports of Northern Asia. What a powerful way to serve the Lord and minister to His people!

As we step boldly into the summer with courage and conviction, I am excited for what God has in store for OM while we live in the realm of great expectations.

Blessings to you,

Lawrence Tong

 

evangelism

Arabian Peninsula: “I want to sell my house,” Zara* told Tori*, a long-term worker. The house was haunted, Zara explained: Voices were coming through the walls. They felt an evil spirit was bothering them. Zara’s family had asked a mullah, an Islamic religious leader, to send the spirit away. The mullah agreed—but for a fee larger than Zara’s family could afford. Sensing an opportunity, Tori told Zara, “There’s no need for you to sell your house. Jesus will free you from this thing for no money at all. It just requires that you understand who Jesus is, what His authority is, and what He can do if you believe in Him.”

Desperate for relief and curious, Zara agreed to study about Jesus’ character, identity, and purpose—that He was sent by God with authority to heal people and set them free from demons. “What makes Jesus so special? Why would [the demons] listen to Jesus?” Tori asked. “Because all authority has been given to Jesus by God. How do we give him the authority?” Tori explained, “You believe with your heart, you know in your head, and you say it with your mouth.” Writing a prayer for Zara, Tori explained, “This is an example of what you should pray if you want to seek Jesus’ authority in your life. You need to think about this.” A few days later, Tori asked if Zara had made a decision. Zara replied, “Yes, I did, and now the house is clean!” Praise God for this new sister in Christ. Pray that Zara will continue to accept Jesus’ authority in her life and grow in faith.
 

Montenegro: A lively couple in their early 50s, Robbie* and Angela* have been involved with kids’ ministry all their married life. From 2010–2012, they worked with OM among the poorest and most disadvantaged, such as Roma youth, in Bar. “We’d collect all these wild kids in our team minibus and bring them back to the OM centre for the youth club” said Robbie.

After they returned to the USA, the kids’ club in Bar closed down, but remaining OMers prayed for culturally suitable ways to serve its marginalised children. The couple returned to Montenegro in August 2014, in time for OM’s summer beach mission. After that, they spent time in the Old Town, praying for the neighbourhood and reconnecting with the children. They renewed many friendships in the community and, in spring 2015, rented a property in the heart of the Old Town.

“It’s a tough area, and we’re the only outsiders, but it’s where God wants us, being with people at street level, and loving them in the name of Jesus,” said Angela. Pray that Angela and Robbie would settle well in this close-knit, impoverished neighbourhood, for their spiritual protection and for persistence in Serbian language studies.

 

relief & development

Nepal: An OM volunteer shares about relief work after the recent earthquake:

Arriving in one village, keen to help, we were immediately surrounded by villagers asking us why we were there. A little girl grabbed my hand. “Come and see my house,” she said. Instead of a house, I saw the broken remains: A mound of bricks, door and window frames sticking out of the rubble. Countless houses in three villages looked the same.

Not all of Nepal looks like that, but some people have lost everything and are surviving on virtually nothing. Having lost their homes and even family members, they carry on. Immediate aid helps people survive the day, but OM’s long-term aims are to work with villages to rebuild their homes and their lives, in the context of a new or refreshed knowledge of Jesus Christ. OM has over 100 workers on the ground and decades of experience in Nepal, and is working with Nepali church partners to respond to the massive need. Immediate needs include food, clean water, temporary shelter, petrol, first aid, trauma counselling and prayer.

 

church planting

North Africa: “Church happens a lot in our house,” said Kelly*, a long-term worker. “It creates community when you’re sharing together,” she explained. Living the Gospel in real life also means constant involvement in the lives of local believers. When Kelly and her husband, Matt*, first arrived over a decade ago, they focused on prayer and evangelism and making friendships.

Together with Salim*, Matt began a Bible study with local men who had become believers—the start of the current house church. After Salim left, Matt and Kelly experienced a tumultuous season of ministry amid the general unrest of the Arab Spring. Now, with foundations of a local church in place, Matt and Kelly are transitioning out of the church group, allowing the local fellowship to grow independently. Local believers often share at weekly meetings and organise periodic conferences by themselves. Still, room for growth remains. “There are a handful of believers who are mature. They can be responsible for the church,” he continued. “Before long, we’ll be able to finish our part.” Pray for the North African church to grow in maturity. Pray for local leaders to assume complete responsibility for the fellowship going forward.
 

Costa Rica: Many people in Talamanca share their personal problems with members of the OM team. The team spent time visiting and listening as people shared their stories. Some girls shared how they had been sexually abused and threatened and were afraid to leave their home. “Witchcraft holds an oppressive position of power over the people,” a team member shared. “When we first arrived, the depression and darkness was visible in the faces of nearly everyone. The knowledge that God heals and restores is the answer.”

As the team shared the Word of God and prayed with people, changes in the village were visible. The team hosted a women’s activity and devotional time, bringing materials so people could make handmade cards for their friends and family to share words of love, hope and encouragement. The team members shared how important it is to show the love of God and support one another. A team member recalled, “Several women came to the activity that did not attend church, and it was a great moment to be able to make a connection and build friendships with them.” As OM continues to work in Talamanca, please pray for its people to be transformed by God.
 

Central Asia: It is not easy to be a follower of Jesus here, and it’s even more challenging for a woman, who is rarely able to make her own choices. Burjoo is a courageous woman who believes radiantly in Jesus. Her mother has heard the good news many times, and even actively participated in fellowship groups at Burjoo’s house. However, when Burjoo moved into her mother’s house, she established clear boundaries that Burjoo must not talk to her friends about the Lord, and that she must not leave her Holy Book for people to see.

Burjoo decided to show the film Magdalena: Released From Shame, one evening. At first, most people didn’t pay attention but eventually everyone’s focus was on the screen. Before the movie ended, however, the electricity cut out. Her family was disappointed and wanted to see the end. Burjoo said, “Don’t worry! I know the ending. I can tell you the rest of the story.”

And so it began. The family sat late into the night while Burjoo told the story of Jesus and how He interacts with women, bringing hope, healing and salvation. Now a regular evening event in Burjoo’s family, after the lights go out and candles are lit, Burjoo begins another story. Pray for wisdom and discernment for Burjoo as she shares, and that she will boldly use the gifts God has given her.

 

justice

Central Asia: After serving girls caught in prostitution in Southeast Asia, Amy* moved to another city to minister to girls involved in prostitution. While hard numbers for how many are involved in the sex industry are lacking, there are unmistakable trends: Thousands of Kazakh women are in the South Korean sex industry, and thousands more Uzbek and Kyrgyz women provide sex services to Kazakh men. Amy learnt about this ‘second wave’ occurring wherever highly traditional values are the cultural norm: If a trafficked woman is able to return home, she is often stigmatised and unable to pursue a normal life. Often, her only recourse is to become a recruiter for the sex trade.

These victims-turned-traffickers often fail to recognise the devastation they inflict on others. Coming from a cycle of abuse and violence, these women reason that, since they treat their recruits with less cruelty than they themselves incurred, they are doing the girls a favour. Traffickers—recruiters, transporters, buyers and clients—imagine that they are helping these girls, rather than oppressing them.

Please pray for God’s intervention to stop this disturbing ‘second wave’ trend in Central Asia. Pray that the Lord will raise up godly men and women like Amy to fight against human trafficking and prostitution. Pray for partnership between OM and local ministries, and a holistic approach to this issue.
 

Philippines: Across the bridge from where Logos Hope is berthed, lays Olongapo City—a city struggling with a myriad of social issues such as human trafficking, extreme poverty and prostitution. Many poor girls end up as ‘bar girls’ in nightclubs, soliciting male customers. An event was held on board to reach these girls, invited to come as they were, allowing God to love them regardless of their identity.

The girls were really looking forward to the event. “The girls usually sleep late, as they work through the night. However, I received text messages early this morning from the girls saying, ‘see you later’; they were so excited!” said Leslie Nabang, Director of Project Life Subic, a non-profit religious organisation involved in bar ministries. The programme included drama, feet-washing and reciting of the Father’s love letter (different Bible verses that express God’s love). Many girls were touched and sobbing into the arms of one another. “One girl couldn’t stop crying when I washed her feet—she didn’t know why someone would be willing to wash her feet.” shared Liliane Nascimento (Brazil), one of the hosts of the event. “We ended up crying together.”

Said Lily*, “I didn’t believe in the existence of a God before. After hearing the song, it was my first time feeling God’s love. I feel really happy but can’t explain why.”

 

mentoring & discipleship

Zimbabwe: OM, in partnership with local Tonga pastors, has published the first theological book in the Tonga dialect of Zimbabwe. Called Kuziba Akucita (Knowing and Doing), the book is a discipleship tool, written by John McQuoid. Several Tonga pastors from Siabuwa village worked together for almost a year to translate the book, demonstrating unparalleled commitment and sense of unity of purpose. The book was typeset and published by OM Africa’s communications team.

The Tonga people only recently started to study their mother language in schools. When Lake Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia was constructed, the Tonga people, the original inhabitants of the area, needed to relocate. The majority settled in Zambia, while a smaller group, estimated to be about 10,000, stayed in Zimbabwe. Finding themselves in two countries with two realities, they formed different groups and developed their own dialects of the Tonga language. Those in Zambia were a larger group and had better access to educational resources, the Gospel and the Bible. The same, though, was not true for the Tonga group in Zimbabwe.

Through a worker stationed in the Zambezi Valley, OM has been working to bring the Gospel to the Tonga people. The mission station at Siabuwa village serves as a medical centre, and leadership training for pastors and outreaches have been conducted there. Seven hundred copies of the new book have been made available to the people. The success of the project has buoyed the spirit of the Tonga church, and other Tonga church leaders have set their sights on translating and producing an audio Bible in the Tonga language. Pray that this new book would be a helpful discipleship resource for Tonga churches.

 

On behalf of our nearly 3,200 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 · © 2015 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

lawrence

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.

e-mail subscription: imelda.tadena@om.org

Follow Lawrence:

Like Lawrence Tong on Facebook Follow @OMLawrenceTong


to top ^