At the OM global orientation conference that took place last month in Deldon in The Netherlands, 230 new OMers joined the ranks of our movement. Watching their excitement for the future and sensing their commitment to the Lord, I have so many reasons to be thankful for the privilege of being a part of this great community whose effective ministry is impacting the world for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are three that come to mind:
All this happens because of your prayers—and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you.
Hong Kong: With a Purpose in a Foreign Land was the name of an event held on Logos Hope to encourage Christian Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong. Many are nannies and house cleaners for local families. The event sought to show how God has a purpose for their lives, even as foreigners. During the programme, Event Co-ordinator Izzy Neoh (Australia) spoke with a nanny, Leia* a nanny with a 3-year-old girl and a 17-year-old son back in Indonesia. She misses her children greatly, especially as she cares for a 5-year-old child. “She forced herself to come to Hong Kong,” Izzy said. “She needed to provide for her family.” Her kids live with grandparents; as a single mother, she had missed a lot of her son’s childhood. Izzy prayed with Leia who was very touched by this love and care, expressing how glad she was to have attended the event.
As attendees arrived, the event team realised not all those attending were Christians. When an opportunity was given for people to follow Jesus, several of the women made the decision to do so. Pray that these women will grow in their newfound faith and see His purpose for them in their current situations.
Arabian Peninsula (AP): “Not a day goes past when I don’t share the Gospel,” said Jenny*, a long-term worker. A bookshop employee, she doesn’t go to find people interested in hearing about Jesus—they come to her. Some wander past the books, stopping for short conversations, “maybe half an hour or an hour, just that once,” Jenny said. Often people are surprised that someone from the West would be interested in spiritual things. They frequently ask about the difference between the Bible and the Qur’an. After meeting in the bookshop, Jenny has visited many women in their homes and tents in the desert, eating, drinking tea and sharing hope.
The bookshop sells Arabic Bibles and New Testaments, along with a number of other religious books by well-known Christian authors. One girl spotted the Bible on a shelf. “I can’t believe you’ve got this,” she said. “I’ve been searching for one.” Many of her customers have never seen a Bible, especially those from Gulf countries banning non-Islamic religious literature. Not only are they delighted to get them, they’re also willing to take risks to return home with God’s Word. “So many people are spiritually open,” Jenny said. Pray that the bookshop would be a light and a safe haven to the people of the AP. Pray that people would experience healing, restoration and peace through God’s Word. Pray for protection over the bookshop. Recently, workers have experienced spiritual attack and certain locals have shown anger at the Bibles and books being sold. Pray for more volunteers and staff to join this ministry.
Central Asia: Lucy* wondered, when going to work in Central Asia, if she would ever use her training in occupational therapy. Team hospitality, sharing with local women and caring for her family took up her time. But Lucy had local friends who knew the parents of Alex, a little boy with cerebral palsy. When the family learned of Lucy’s skills, they begged for help. Alex’s mother had been trying to get help for her son, but the medical system required her and Alex to spend a month in the hospital if they were going to appeal for government help. Lucy agreed to help and visits the family in their home (without running water) and sees Alex’s perseverance and joy as she literally stretches his abilities.
On a recent visit, Alex’s father asked Lucy when they could attend church together. He had been having dreams and thought he should go to church with Lucy and her family! “This family is going to have a real struggle as they care for their child in a culture which traditionally sees disability as shameful,” Lucy acknowledged. “What a privilege to offer them a small amount of hope through improving Alex’s physical disabilities but, more than that, to point them to the ultimate hope in the One who created Alex special!” Pray that their village will be impacted for Christ through this act of compassion.
Turkey: Alan*, a long-term worker, left with Neil* and Geoff* to the east to meet with people whom God had divinely prepared. Arriving in one city, they found a large festival with a street parade. They retreated to a bench away from the festivities and sat next to Ayberk*, a postal worker. They started talking and quickly the door opened to share the gospel. Ayberk had some good questions, but then suddenly rose saying. “I am meant to be in the parade with the post office people and they are about to walk in front of the mayor. Quick: Come join the parade with me!” So Alan, Neil and Geoff ran after him, were introduced to some of his fellow postal workers, put on Turkish Post office hats and made their way through the centre of this massive parade!
Later, Ayberk invited the three men for dinner with his wife and two children, where again they shared the message of the gospel. After dinner, Ayberk took the three men to an amazing mountaintop café near the city. He asked great questions about Jesus and the gospel, and the conversation continued until 01:30 in the morning. The three left Ayberk with a New Testament and he left them with a big smile, thanking them for the amazing night. “Never in our wildest dreams would we have envisioned being part of a parade representing the Turkish Post office—and have such an open door to share the gospel,” said Alan. Pray for Ayberk and his family to trust Christ and join a local fellowship. Pray for more such opportunities for the teams.
Egypt: Ali*, a local worker, has one goal for his life: To wash Egypt with the Word of God. Before 2017, he hopes to distribute two million Bibles to Egyptian Muslims. He hands out Bibles by the carton-full, according to team leader Jared*. “Ali is not afraid, in any situation, to offer a Bible as a gift,” Jared said. Often, when one family member receives a Bible, other relatives come back to ask for their own copy.\
Twice annually, Ali and Ibrahim*, another OM worker, partner with a local ministry where volunteers set up displays of used clothing to sell. Leaving the event, people receive a Bible. Two girls entered the courtyard and silently perused the area. On their way out, they both accepted a Bible. Some time later, both returned, having read through the Bible and come to faith. Another day, a Muslim lady wearing a full burka (head covering) was handed a Bible as she entered. She accepted the book, hugged it tightly to herself, and said, “I don’t need anything else.”
“Incredible things are happening in Egypt these days,” Ali reported. Since the Egyptian revolution in 2011, Bible distribution within the country has increased every year. There was “an incredible response to the Gospel from the backlash when the Muslim Brotherhood was running the country,” Jared explained. “[Many] people rejected that form of Islam. They’re exploring different areas, but many are coming to Christianity.” However, the openness may not last. Pray that OM workers will continue to find ways to distribute Bibles across the country. Pray that many Egyptians will read God’s Word, come to faith in Jesus Christ and be welcomed and discipled by local churches.
Mexico: Lety Cruz works with OM’s Dreams ministry for abused women and recalls the first victim of human trafficking she got to know. Rocio was 26, but looked 40. Her father-in-law tried to abuse her, so she hid her daughter with her sister. When Lety suggested to go to the authorities, Rocio shared her terrible story as a victim of human trafficking:
Rocio was 15 when her father died. Her mother remarried to a violent alcoholic. One day, Rocio met a young man who showed her kindness and asked her to run away and marry him. Almost immediately, her husband sent her into prostitution, under threat of death. For the next 10 years, she was kept naked during the day and tied up in the backyard at night. One day, her husband was so drunk that Rocio escaped with her five year-old daughter, Maranatha. She collected plastic bottles to earn money and feed her child. Her father-in-law offered to take care of Maranatha while Rocio was working but, when the girl confessed that her grandfather was touching her, Rocio sought help; the Dreams ministry has since been helping her to build a new life.
“The Dreams ministry empowers women and children at risk in Mexico City and Hermosillo through education and exercising their human rights,” said Lety. “We want to help their self-awareness and sense of worth. We provide art therapy, individual counselling and sociological screening to identify factors of abuse or trafficking. We try to meet their emotional and psychological needs.” The Dreams team has weekly interaction with girls in prostitution on the streets. Lety shared: “Thank God that Rocio’s husband was caught by police and is now in prison. I provided therapy to Rocio and her daughter and helped her find a church and psychologist, who could follow up. She married again and has a baby boy. She’s still collecting plastic bottles to earn money, but soon I hope to empower her to develop her own small business.” Pray that churches will be actively involved both in showing compassion to these women and in standing up to systemic injustice in their cities.
Brazil: More than 600 Brazilians were challenged for missions during the three-day missions event, held from 17–25 July in Criciúma. “This is an area that we never worked in before,” said Simone Aragão, short-term missions coordinator of OM. Criciúma is a city that has welcomed refugees from many countries such as Haiti, Senegal and Ghana. Most of them are Muslims. OM was invited to challenge churches to go about missions in a practical way, providing the tools and training for church members to reach people. Workshops covered topics such as urban missions, sports evangelism, human trafficking, creative evangelism, reaching the Muslim World and OM opportunities.
After the conference, participants spent one week in two underprivileged communities in Criciúma, where drug dealing is common. The participants helped local churches, worked with children, used sports with Biblical principles, had team devotionals, helped in projects with prostitutes and transvestites, performed dramas, hosted kids’ games, used creative evangelism and much more. “Many people accepted the call to get involved in missions,” said Simone. Three young people will attend OM’s 10-month Missions Course for Churches. Other participants signed up for OM’s six-month, full-time missions training programme, starting in January 2016. Pray that God will empower believers to continue in outreach opportunities created through this training.
Taiwan: One hundred people from 14 nations gathered in Taipei for OM’s STEP OUT 2015 mission conference in July, followed by outreaches to five countries in East Asia. Conference speaker and OM East Asia Pacific Associate Director Kenneth Bong urged participants to remain in our loving heavenly Father, talking about God’s desire to gather people from all nations to Himself. The interactive session Perspectives on Missions proved to be a highlight. Practical topics, such as tough questions commonly asked while sharing the gospel, cross-cultural communications and spiritual opposition were explored. A variety of workshops equipped participants for outreach leading to Mission Practice where participants received an hour’s training in drama and children’s ministry, and then went to the Taipei City Yongfu Home for the disabled. The team organised a programme for 70 people and later divided into small groups for activities with the residents.
On the final night, 56 people were commissioned for outreaches to Japan, Laos, Nepal, the Philippines and Miao-li (Taiwan). After praying for participants, the coordinators washed the feet of the participants one by one. Praise God for speaking to participants through STEP OUT 2015, and for those who committed to be a light to shine into the darkness. Pray that God continues to equip and guide the participants as they seek to live for Christ in their own contexts.
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,
* names changed for security reasons
Credit: OM International · © 2015 OM International