Director's Update - Aug 2015

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Dear OM friends,

Slightly more than half of OM missionaries are under the age of 40 and many are developing to become the next generation’s leaders. In their future, religious pluralism, cultural diversity, global economic complexities and ethnic wars are some of the many challenges these young missionaries will encounter.

Each year, I spend many months visiting OM missionaries who love Jesus and are committed to impact their community. As I get to know these outstanding missionaries and watch them making a difference, I see OMers engaging cultures with gentleness and respect, serving alongside locals rather than ‘shouting instructions’ from the stage. I see a Christ-like attitude that the world needs. Personally, this motivates me to keep on serving with them.

The Global Leadership Team and I are committed as ever to succession planning. It is our responsibility as present-day leaders to prepare, equip, and train a mighty stream of future leaders to demonstrate and proclaim our faith through our ministries to people God has placed in our lives. The Apostle Peter put it beautifully, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. (1 Pet. 3:15, NIV)

Thank you for standing with us this month,

Lawrence Tong

P.S. While in Germany, I was briefly interviewed about the recent International Executive Committee (IEC) meetings, the OM admin fund and the need for prayer for the Global Planning Team. I hope to do more of these short videos in the future. Visit https://vimeo.com/132532174.

 

Check out OM’s new app!

Download Operation Mobilisation’s new app for mobile phones and tablets, Android and iOS. The app contains event and ministry information, along with downloadable content: Explore programme schedules, memory verses, calendars, event details, prayer items, missions news and more. Our first feature ministry event in the app is TeenStreet Europe 2015. Stay tuned for further ministry content throughout the year. Download the app through the Google or Apple store. There is a web version for Windows or Blackberry phones. https://event.crowdcompass.com/praygivego

 

Pray through the Hajj

Hajj Prayer is a 3-day effort to pray for people going on the Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) from 21–23 September, 2015. All the Hajj Prayer 2015 information can be found at the Praying Through the Arabian Peninsula website: www.pray-ap.info/hajj. There is a Hajj video and also a three-day prayer guide.

The day when Muslims are on Mount Arafat, seeking forgiveness of sins is Yom Kippur, the day Jews are also seeking forgiveness of sins—their calendars are aligning to make this happen. We encourage everyone to pray for one-fifth of the world during these days.

 

evangelism

Philippines: After putting on an elaborate dinner for over 200 of Logos Hope’s crew and staff, it is hard to imagine that Peter Paul Nang once found it difficult to give freely. As owner of one of the biggest restaurants in San Fernando, he first encountered Logos Hope in 2013. “When asked by Logos Hope if I could sponsor food for their events, I don’t know why I found myself agreeing to do it,” shared Peter. “I had never done anything like this in my life!”

Returning to the ship every day, he became good friends with Partner Ministries Director Rodney Hui (Singapore). One afternoon, they engaged in a deep conversation about the Christian faith. Rodney invited Peter to invite Christ into his life—which Peter did. This experience altered Peter’s mindset completely as he began to ponder what he had heard. After the ship left, he sought the help of a local pastor he met on board. This man allowed him to ask many questions and mentored him in his new-found faith.

“Rodney told me that if the ship had visited just to bring me to Christ, it would still have been worth it,” remembered Peter. He once thought that he didn’t have a special story to share, but now he knows “that one saved life could touch many others. It could bring Jesus and His love to a whole generation!”

 

Central Asia: In Uzbekistan, it is illegal to have Christian meetings in the Uzbek language, the Bible is restricted and Christians are monitored. Sharing about Jesus is difficult. However, millions of Uzbeks go to Russia—where there is freedom to share the Gospel and distribute Bibles—to find work and remit money back to their families. OM’s church-planting ministry to Uzbeks in Novosibirsk has seen dozens of migrant workers come to faith in Jesus.

Alek* was discipled through OM’s discipleship programme. He lives in a small town and, through his and his wife’s witness, 10 people have come to faith. Recently Tamara*, part of the Novosibirsk church plant, visited Alek and others to encourage them. Lack of fellowship had caused their faith to grow cold; they were no longer meeting. However, when Tamara arrived, they were overjoyed, admitted their weakness, wept and repented. They met every day and night until 3:00 a.m. for a week to receive Biblical teaching.

Motier* brought her grandmother from a neighbouring village. The grandmother told Tamara everything she knew about God from a Muslim perspective and concluded by saying, “I have told you everything I know; now it’s your turn to talk to me about God.”
Tamara replied, “You know much about God, but there is one thing that you do not know and that I would like to share with you.” With that Tamara shared the Gospel story. When she finished, the grandmother exclaimed, “How can I not accept such a Saviour? I will repent and receive Him!” She reached for money to pay Tamara, as is the Muslim custom. Her grandson, who had come to faith earlier, laughed and explained that Tamara was not here to receive, but to give. Pray for the OM church-planting team as they minister to Uzbeks in Russia.

 

relief & development

Ukraine: As the war in the east continues, the number of refugees going to other parts of Ukraine grows. The Odessa team met two women who fled Donetsk with their families. “We fled with almost nothing,” they said, as the neighourhood they lived in became a battleground between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces.

Now, as refugees, they need to ask for help. Less than two years ago, they packed bags full of clothes for the needy; today, they are the needy. One recipient of aid recently wrote to the team:

“Our family arrived from the anti-terrorist operation zone. We arrived in Odessa with only our summer clothes and no money. We came to you for help. You welcomed us warmly and supported us morally. You helped us to clothe our family, and with medicine and diapers for our invalid son. We are very grateful for your support of people in need. Thank you that you are not indifferent to the needs and misfortunes of others.”

OM is still in contact with the women, who have attended church once. They presently have accommodation in a sanatorium, but will soon have to look elsewhere. There are hundreds of people like them in Odessa at the moment, unable to go home yet not settled elsewhere. Continue to pray for peace in Ukraine and for OM’s efforts to meet the needs of refugees.

 

church planting

Turkey: Recently, OMers Dalton* and Raymond* visited a poor (and notorious) neighbourhood on the far side of Istanbul to share God’s love on the street. Dalton approached people talking outside a café, and asked a question he’d never asked before: “I’ve heard that there are believers in Jesus in this neighbourhood. Do you know any of them?” A man gave him an odd look, went to the shop next door, and then returned. “I know someone who might know such people, but he is not at work today,” the man said. A few minutes later, he phoned someone, talked for a minute, and handed the phone to Dalton.

After Dalton explained who he was, the man on the other end said he’d come to faith recently. In fact, at that very moment, he was meeting with a Turkish pastor, whose church is near the OM Bible Correspondence Course office on the other side of Istanbul. “Please don’t tell anyone that I’ve become a follower of Jesus,” he said. “I haven’t told my family yet, and the only other person who knows of my newfound faith is the guy whom you asked.”

In a neighbourhood of 200,000 people, Dalton asked a question he’d never asked before to the only person who knew the answer. The man who’d made the phone call invited Dalton and Raymond into his café to continue their conversation, where a group of men sitting at a table interrupted them. “All of us would like to have New Testaments,” one of them said. The pair didn’t have enough on hand, but they were sent by the Bible Correspondence Course within a few days. Pray that God’s Word will impact those men, their families and their neighbourhood.

 

Zimbabwe: An OM team brought the life-changing Gospel to impoverished villages plagued by disease and ancestral worship. One hundred ten people made commitments to Jesus during the outreach, and two churches were planted in the Chimbuwe and Mutemakungu villages, where many practice traditional ancestral worship and are said to be possessed by a baboon spirit. There are few Bible-believing churches in the area; a number of sects and cults are prevalent. In Chimbuwe, a 12 km walk from their base, an expectant crowd of about 100 people were waiting. The team showed the Jesus film and preached the Gospel; 40 people gave their lives to Christ.

The next day, the outreach team was scheduled for ministry 17 km away in Mutemakungu. An ox-drawn cart was supposed to transport them, but its tyre had a puncture, which meant they had to walk. Arriving late, they were encouraged to see another expectant crowd, of which 70 people indicated decisions for Christ. Host pastor Israel Farai assigned two church members to take provisional charge of the 40 new Christians from Chimbuwe and the 70 from Mutemakungu. OM was asked to train new leaders but, in the meantime, Pastor Farai would provide direction to the new church plants. When asked why he chooses to stay despite the challenges, he responded, “The people of Muzarabani love God. Some walk as far as 30 km every Sunday to come to church. If I leave, who will help them?” Praise God for those who indicated new faith in Christ during the outreaches, for Pastor Farai and the new churches.

 

justice

Zambia: Mpulungu is a port hub for villages of the four countries bordering Lake Tanganyika. Prostitution and child trafficking are common, and girls are always at risk. Girls as young as 12 years old can be married. The OM-founded Good News School first opened its doors in 2008 to a class of 20 preschool-aged children. Today, that initial group is in grade six, and the school includes over 100 children. As their pupils grew older, the OM team wondered how to protect them from the pressures of the community. The solution: A group that would teach useful skills and, more importantly, help the girls discover their identity in Christ. Named ‘The Pure Girls,’ twenty girls from grade three and above meet twice a week. On Wednesdays, they do Bible study and discuss relevant issues like marriage, prayer, love and home situations. On Fridays, the girls learn sewing, beading and cooking.

“Many girls are not good with school work,” explained Lorrin Kasale, who teaches grade six and leads The Pure Girls. “We want them to be skilled so that, even if they don’t finish school, they will have something that will help prevent them from going into prostitution.” The girls learn to make small bags, doormats and paper beads, sold locally to people visiting the OM base or at conferences. The profits provide simple personal needs for the girls.

 

mentoring & discipleship

Egypt: Although TeenStreet’s signature elements—small groups, freedom in personal worship and fun afternoon activities—look different than traditional church conferences, its cultural context remains the same. “We want to be different but still Egyptian, to present new ideas that will help them grow,” Sarah*, leader of TeenStreet Egypt said. Miriam*, a local on the TeenStreet Egypt leadership team, explained, “We teach teens by ways different from the traditions in their churches, and I think this has a special effect in their lives that continues.”

With around 90 teenagers and coaches from five cities, significant differences in traditions and backgrounds were easy to spot. The best way of dealing with them was by pointing to the Bible, specifically to Psalm 139 and this year’s theme: Handmade. “God sees [you] by a different way…His own handmade [creation]. If I am handmade, all of us are handmade. Your friends are handmade by God,” Sarah told the teens. “Often, it’s difficult to say, ‘I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made’…but that’s the truth. Because the Creator, because the Artist made us, we are priceless.” Pray the message from TeenStreet would be rooted deeply in the lives of the teenagers, and that they would be open and available to God and strengthened through His Word.

 

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 · © 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.

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Director’s Update - June 2015


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