Director's Update - Sept 2014

Download as PDF (180 kb)

Dear brothers and sisters,

Think about the challenges of world evangelisation: due to population growth, there are more people today that have not heard the Gospel than at any time in human history—over 2.1 billion people (see table below). Fewer than one in three persons on Earth has never heard that Jesus lived, died and was resurrected for their forgiveness of sin and eternal life. These unevangelised people form more than 6,900 unreached groups worldwide.

There is good news, however: Though there are more unevangelised people today, their percentage of the world’s population is decreasing as more and more plans for world evangelisation are implemented.

If this trend continues at the same rate, using linear approximation suggests that the world could be totally evangelised by 2160 (+/- 3%).

Ultimately, of course, this will be accomplished by God, despite what may appear to be staggering challenges. Yet, in His goodness, fervent prayers and a deeper level of commitment to Jesus by His disciples will make an eternal difference. Thank you for praying and acting with us—the end is in sight!

By His Grace,

Lawrence Tong

  1800 1900 1970 2000 2014 2025
Unevangelised population 674,350,000 880,122,000 1,653,168,000 1,833,191,000 2,106,206,000 2,310,860,000
As % of world population 74.6 54.3 44.7 29.9 29.2 28.9
World evangelisation plans since AD 30 160 250 510 1,500 2,200 3,000

(cf.www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/statusofglobalmission.pdf)

 

evangelism

Macedonia: The church youth centre in Kratovo is usually alive with teenage boys, but one evening, it hosted 12 local ladies to celebrate International Women’s Day. OMer Magda and Anita, a church leader, had previously gotten to know the ladies through coffee visits and church invitations, but they wanted to do something more.

When the women received their invitation, some asked, “Will there be a lot about God and your faith?”

During supper, Anita and Magda focused on showing love and appreciation for their guests, and both shared how they met Jesus personally. Each woman went home with a card containing a personal message and a Bible verse. Many of the guests asked afterwards for another meeting. Anita and Magda are planning to run an Alpha course for women, which would help them understand the basics of the Christian faith. Magda also hopes to open a coffee bar for mothers with young children. “We are very excited about what God has in store for the women in Kratovo,” says Magda. Pray for God’s wisdom for the team in reaching the local women with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Transform 2014: One team stayed in Rome to help George Verwer distribute literature at two churches where he was speaking. While visiting historic sites, a Taiwanese team member struck up a conversation with a priest at a local church who was sitting in a confession box, reading a book about Jesus! He asked what she believed, which led to an opportunity to share her faith. The priest (Father Abraham) asked her to bless him; she prayed he would come to know Jesus personally. This week the team is leading a kids’ club in northern Italy for 50 children. “As we were ending the day, a child approached Alessandro and asked eagerly whether it was time for ‘team time’ again,” said one member.

Pray for Father Abraham to come to a personal relationship with Jesus, and for the seeds of the Gospel to take root in the children’s hearts.

Turkey: The Transform outreach team met a lady with a suitcase and other bags who spoke English well. She was leaving Istanbul because her husband had been killed in the war. A team member shared the Gospel with her and she committed her life to Christ! The lady then told her daughter that she now has two birthdays: her original birthday and the day she was ‘born again’! The team gave her a New Testament and encouraged her to grow in her new faith.

Another Transform team met a man who had fled Syria with his siblings and parents. They were out of money and uncertain of their next step. The team told the man God will provide for their needs, giving him an Arabic New Testament. He was very excited, like he was “receiving gold.” They spoke for some time, after which the man also gave his life to the Lord.

 

relief & development

Logos Hope: Though the ship sails on from a port, the vision is to leave behind a lasting impact. One way is to support individuals actively working to bring change in the community. Pastor Hwe Suk Noh of Gaya Dong Boo Church has a ministry to school children, elderly and single mothers. “I raised my son alone so God gave me a heart for single mothers,” Hwe Suk expressed. She lives with the mums, teaching them healthy habits and good parenting skills. Logos Hope sent carpenters to build and varnish two tables at her church. “We use them really well. Right now it is exam time and my son and his three friends are sitting here studying,” Hwe Suk said. The tables are also used by the church to eat together after services. Though her ministry is difficult, her desire for them to find hope in Jesus keeps her going. “When they listen to Christ’s word and worship at the Wednesday service, they change,” she said.

France: Not everyone experiences Paris in the same way. For the homeless, Paris is a place of daily struggle on a hard bench or cold street, with empty stomachs.

Madeline (USA) joined the OM team for three months and had opportunity to help at Mission évangélique parmi les sans-logis (evangelical mission among the homeless) with Celine Léchot, another OMer. The mission provides daily meals and a story of hope to those facing horrible conditions. “They are passionate about sharing God’s word with those arriving for a hot meal,” said Madeline. The team also interacts with the guests. “One lady specifically loves to talk to Celine,” said Madeline. “You can see the trust building in their relationship.”

“Keep your smiles!” said one man to Madeline and other team members as he left one night. He lives in a bleak situation that seems hopeless, yet he chose to notice joy, and was thankful for a simple smile.

Each evening the ‘preacher’ will talk to individuals and ask if he can write down their name for prayer. Some eagerly share their needs. “This ministry is thriving as those who are hurting meet those who care,” said Madeline. “Most importantly, they hear of Jesus’ love and the relationship they may experience with Him.” Pray for this outreach and for the homeless who hear the Gospel.

 

church planting

Near East: “When Syrians say a trip was difficult, you know it was hard,” Oliver*, a long-time worker, said. After being turned away at one border crossing, ten Kurdish believers travelled to an area controlled by the opposing faction and crossed into a neighbouring country. For them, the risk was worth it. They were attending ministry training to lead their church (about 120 people meeting in smaller groups) to maturity. Considering the current crisis in Syria, the training was nothing short of a miracle.

Before the war began, around 20 Kurdish Syrians in one area came to know Jesus, attended established churches and grew in faith. However, war forced them to flee where they found tens of thousands of Kurds ready to hear the Gospel. They formed a church and shared their faith whenever they could. In the past two years, they have met in homes, and some in tents; in a small city of 30,000, the church even rents its own space.

The Kurdish leaders were concerned about new believers being trained for outreach. Good at outreach themselves, they did not know how to impart that knowledge to others. They knew that, if their church did not learn to share effectively from Scripture, they would not reach their community. Oliver and Jon* taught two simple, practical tools to address this problem: giving a testimony and leading small Bible studies.

Tara’s* mother had brought her for training. She shared a beautiful story of how God had freed her from suicidal depression. She confessed, “I’ve never shared this with anyone before. I didn’t know how.” Now she and others in their church are equipped to share how Jesus has given them hope.

If leaders do not learn to disciple new believers (the next generation of leadership), church growth will stall. However, by giving them training and responsibility, the church has the potential to multiply. Oliver and Jon continue contact with the Kurdish church leaders. Lord willing, more and more people will hear the message of Jesus amidst the tragedy of the ongoing civil war.

Thailand: A new ministry targeting young professionals was launched last year. With the vision of developing national leaders to serve in churches at home and abroad, bi-monthly Young Professionals Prayer and Mission (Y2PM) events are being hosted in 10 partner churches and Christian CEO groups. Many of the 40-100 young professionals who regularly attend have volunteered on Logos Hope and/or during outreach programmes in Bangkok, benefiting from exposure to global missions and leadership training.

“Of the 4,000 churches in Thailand, only half have pastors,” said Del. “We encourage young professionals to become leaders within their communities, be it in a factory or office. We also encourage them to get involved in world missions through Y2PM prayer nights or mission days.” Twenty-two have served or are in process to serve with OM. “One of our two church plants in Bangkok was started by young professionals,” added Del. “We network young professionals in Thailand, so that they can build a strong community and attract other young professionals.”

Pray for peer-to-peer recruitment and for more churches to be planted among young professionals.

 

justice

Pakistan: OM has built relationships with villagers since the 2010 flood that destroyed many homes and communities. In addition to helping build homes in both Christian and Muslim areas, the team has established community centres where groups can meet and learn new skills. During the day, women learn to make clothes for their families and for sale; in the evenings, Bible studies are held for local believers.

Mehreen*, a 40-year-old widow and mother of four daughters, didn’t ask for financial aid. “I only need a sewing machine to support my household because I know how to stitch,” she said. “For the past eight months, I have not been able to pay my rent. My landlord, a Muslim, is very kind. In the light of my present poor financial state, he offered a favour: ‘If you become a Muslim, I will adopt you as my daughter,’” he said.” Confused, she did not know how to answer. She asked for time, so that she might talk with the Christian community. The next day, she visited a number of pastors and a priest. None was willing to help; one even suggested it would benefit her financially to become a Muslim.

A woman in the OM sewing centre advised her to talk to the team leader: “They help women with difficulties like yours,” she said. Two of the team prayed with her and verified her situation. They loaned her a sewing machine and gave her food to last her family for a month. Having no fear now of forced conversion, she set to work with a willing heart and has already begun to pay back her debts, seeing the possibility of a better debt-free future. Pray for God’s compassion to become ‘news’ across Pakistan.

Austria: OM EAST’s literature and media department is working on a new booklet to support ministries that reach out to women in prostitution. It will be produced in the Czech and Romanian languages, with other Central and Eastern European languages to follow. The booklet shares the testimony of a woman whose life was falling apart and how she turned to God for help. It’s a story of how God saved her and gave her a new life. Stories like these play an important part in reaching out to women in red light areas. Sarah,* working in this ministry, sums up her hopes for the impact that these booklets will have: “May they tell each woman that they are not forgotten and that the Almighty God loves them and longs to help them.”

Please pray for the final stages of production, and that the story will be a blessing to many women throughout Central and Eastern Europe.  

 

mentoring & discipleship   

Germany: During this year’s TeenStreet Europe, 4,387 participants from more than 30 nations explored the unhindered relationship God wants with His children. Held from 2–9 August in Münster, participants enjoyed a week of Bible study, musical worship, sports, arts, fun and more.

“This year’s theme is OPEN. The way to God is always open for us to receive from Him,” describe main speakers Josh and Debs Walker (Ireland). Based on Revelation 1–3, the theme was a focal point throughout the programme.

The annual sponsor event RAG (Raise and Give), a race and talent show, challenges the teens to find sponsors to raise money to support orphans in the Ukraine through the Heritage Project in Odessa, which takes care of 45 facilities, including homes for orphans with special needs, two places of safety and homes for children whose parents cannot care for them. Says TeenStreet Director Ger van Veen, “We’re praying that the intensive discipling of this week will have a multiplication effect in all the countries represented. We’re serving a God who we should never underestimate, because of who He is!”

 

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

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 ^