Greetings in our Lord Jesus at the beginning of a new year during which we are committed to concentrate on and develop our prayer ministry in OM. I have been preparing three talks on Psalm 27 for a conference. David is going through a time of great stress as he writes this Psalm. I was challenged to see how David ends it: “Wait for the Lord be strong, and take heart, and wait for the Lord.” How many times, especially in a crisis, I go rushing into a situation with a desire to ‘fix it,’ but failing to truly wait upon the Lord! We have a tendency to be a very activist organisation—and a lost world certainly calls for tireless activity from his people—but our prayer for 2012 is that it will be activity in the power and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we learn more of waiting upon him.
Prayer will be a main emphasis during our International Leaders Meetings at the end of February. We want to continue our prayer emphasis for the Muslim world begun last year (each month around a particular prayer priority). Details of that and another key issue wrap up this report.
This month, I am requesting prayer on two other) issues. There are important meetings on the structure of the work in India during 9–11 January. Later (17–28 January), we have our ‘GO’ conference in Germany for those joining OM—a time of key decisions both for individuals and numerous teams.
Critical role of the month: Thank you for praying for the need for an International Head of IT. There has been progress; I will keep you informed. This month, I ask you to pray for long-term workers among those who have come from other countries to live in Paris. They often initially find Europe difficult to adapt to. During this critical phase, they are often very open to new ideas. We are looking for families and especially men to join this great opportunity. Contact me if you feel you might be God’s answer to this or know someone who might be, and I will put you in contact with the appropriate person.
Give thanks for God’s blessing on Logos Hope’s visit to Malaysia. During four port visits over four months, crewmembers participated in a variety of ministries on shore and engaged with over 414,000 visitors to the ship! The visit challenged local Christians in their involvement in mission and helped others find new hope in Jesus.
Angel Tree is a worldwide ministry in 65 countries which unites 750,000 children of prisoners with their parents at Christmas. As part of Angel Tree, Prison Fellowship Malaysia runs a five-day camp for 55 young people aged seven to 24. The climax of the camp is when the youngsters meet their parents in the central prison in Kota Kinabalu. The youth visited Logos Hope where they sang songs, heard a special message from Viktor Szabó (Hungary) and played a game involving life rings. “It was fantastic and encouraging for the children,” said Prem Kumar, national director of Prison Fellowship Malaysia. Some of the children live deep in the interior of Borneo. “Not only had they not been on a ship before, they had never even seen the sea,” added Prem.
In Singapore, Logos Hope’s last port in 2011, OM Founder George Verwer was a special guest on board. “We really want to thank you for standing with us through another great year,” George writes. “Logos Hope has not had an easy year but it’s been a great year, as over one million people have visited the ship. We have the joy of knowing many of them have received something of the Word of Life. I am amazed when I get reports of the amount of literature and especially the Scriptures that go out in port after port. We thank the Living God for 40 years of ministry. Only eternity will tell the full story.”
Colombia: The fourth-largest country in South America has one of the smallest OM teams. In 2010, Martha Ardila pioneered ministry in Cartagena with a few volunteers. “I visit the prison every Thursday to share the Word of God with inmates,” enthuses Martha. “In 2012, we plan to teach workshops at the women’s prison. I hope to bring a church team from the US for sports ministry in a very needy area of Cartagena. A group called Foundation of Jesus works here, and the director has already put me in touch with schools.” Martha took the Channels of Hope facilitators’ training from AIDSLink, which works in partnership with OM. A recent mission congress in Bogotá gave her good contacts with pastors all over Colombia interested in a Channels of Hope workshop. Pray for Martha: for perseverance, good connections, finances and more team members.
Chile: How do you connect with new neighbours? When OM moved into its new ministry base in Santiago, an idea formed to utilise the front gate. A training group created a painting declaring God’s love in different languages. When the painting was dry, they cut it into strips. The idea was to glue the painting to the side of the iron posts of the gate. Viewed from straight ahead the painting wouldn’t be visible but, for those walking along the sidewalk or passing by in a car, the painting would suddenly appear as they drew closer.
The trainees prayed that conversations would start with neighbours and passersby that would allow them to explain about OM and God’s love. Since the painting has been in place, people have stopped to look and talk with the team. Currently the gate says: Jesus sets you free. Pray that the gate will be a continuing ministry in the neighbourhood and that people will be impacted, both by the message and through conversation and prayer with the OM team.
Madagascar: The OM team has a passion to mobilise the Malagasy church by expanding their worldview and awareness about what God is doing globally through missions. A radio programme, Jesus Lives, was launched in 2006, is now renamed World Challenge, encouraging listeners to pray for missions around the world, including prayer for the Muslim world and the persecuted church. Listeners also receive two daily SMS messages: a scripture verse in the morning and a prayer challenge at night. An annual prayer gathering attracts 700 people. Praise God for reaching lives and challenging believers through this ministry. Pray that many more in the Malagasy church would get involved.
Bosnia: God surprised the Bihać team by quickly providing the money needed for their firewood project, which helps poor families through the harsh winter. Faruk*, a local believer, found reliable wood companies, organised a list of recipients, and co-ordinated deliveries, sawing and chopping. By the middle of November, a hundred households had received their firewood! Faruk will bring a food package to each home, following up the wood deliveries with a personal visit that provides opportunity to share the message of God’s love and offer prayer for personal needs. They can also serve as the first connection to a local church. Praise God for the generous donations made to the project. Pray for Faruk as he makes follow-up visits.
A sure way of building relationships with men is to play soccer, so Rafael (OM) joined some Roma fellows for a game. “After a while, some smaller boys joined us,” reported Rafael. “One saw my tattoos and said, ‘Those are nice. What are they?’ I explained that they are about Jesus. Using verses from the Bible, I explained what the tattoos meant, and that Jesus had died and was now alive. The boys told me they were Muslim and loved Allah and Islam. I told them that this did not have to hinder us from being friends. I was encouraged to talk to these young boys, and to see that God can use even tattoos in the middle of a soccer game to share about His Son.”
Albania: One month after a Transform team’s visit to Dushk, Rachel (OM) visited a lady who had attended an OM-run sewing course and was pleased to meet an Albanian believer staying with the family. “We talked about God and prayed together for over an hour. Selvi asked if I could pray that her son would find a place to live in Greece. I took her hands in mine and prayed that God would provide for her son in Greece, and also thanked Him for the place He has prepared for us in heaven. I prayed that Selvi would accept Christ and experience God’s love. Selvi was crying, ready to accept Jesus. What a joy to see the results of the seeds planted during the Transform team’s visit. Pray that God would continue to work in Selvi’s heart as we study the Bible together.”
Germany: The City of Halle invited the local church to create a space for contemplation in the busyness of Christmas at the Halle Christmas Fair. “Visitors were invited to ‘park’ in front of Jesus’ crib, listen to stories or write personal concerns on paper and place them in the cracks of a ‘wailing wall’,” reports Toni (OM), “Visitors were invited to write what they are thankful for or what they hope for. We hope this will encourage people to open their hearts to God.”
Ireland: From a desire to see 18–30 year olds immersed in ministry, God’s word and cross-cultural missions, OM has launched a one-year GAP programme with partner churches. After two months of training, the Immersion Team split into two groups of four and relocated to Carlow and Athlone. Each person is given responsibilities based on interests and skills. OM hopes that participants will have a deeper personal devotional and prayer life, identify their God-given spiritual gifts, a passion for pointing people to God, a vision for missions that will last a lifetime, and will return home with an appreciation for Irish culture and history. “God is teaching me to give even small things to Him and take his grace,” said EunJin (Korea). Added Lindsay (Canada), “You have to try every aspect of ministry to know what suits you. This is a year to grow!”
France: An OMer and his wife reach out to sex workers. One young sex worker who lodged a complaint with the police against her ‘mama’ and subsequently withdrew it because of pressure and threats against her family in Nigeria, has agreed to fully co-operate with the police. “She was transferred to a safe house in another town, where the parents of a co-worker have been in contact with her. God’s network is amazing,” exclaimed the OMer. Grace*, the first sex worker to give her heart to the Lord, has been offered a four-month contract with a cleaning company. She gave testimony of what God had done at church and sang a song learnt as a child. Pray for opportunities for a fresh start for these women, and that they would know God’s hand of peace and protection.
Moldova: Igor Vozian, church member in Chisinau, is trainer of this year’s CRT (Regional Transferable Cup) soccer tournament organised by OM. “I have always enjoyed playing football,” reported Igor. “But now I’m even more pleased to use it as a tool to further God’s Kingdom. Most of the boys are from socially vulnerable families, having just one parent or alcoholic parents. I’m encouraged to see their smiles and joy through playing football. When we participated the first time, my boys lost every game. This was an opportunity to get closer and foster a positive attitude. Much has changed. At the last regional tournament this December, we took first place! I invited them to church to celebrate our victory. We looked at pictures ranging from our very first training session until the day we won the Cup. The youth from our church also prepared a programme with snacks and games. The boys returned home to share their joy with their families; for me, the greatest joy is that they could hear God’s plan for their lives. I believe God will use it.”
Brazil: Over 400 young people participated in Transmission, a four-day conference in Santos, whose purpose was to transmit missionary challenges for this generation and motivate young people to have personal involvement with God. OM was invited to minister to teenagers, present opportunities for missions to young people, give training on creative ways of sharing the gospel and preach during the services. Team leader Julio Moromisato said, “We have faith that several will get involved in missions through OM. But what more will God do in the lives of those challenged? Pray that younger Brazilians will take the glory of God to all nations and that OM Brazil will serve this generation, showing creative ways to proclaim the gospel.”
Turkey: Mary’s friend, Nilufer, came to visit, sharing about her family problems and broken relationships. Mary had read Psalm 37 that morning and shared it with her. Nilufer, a devoted Muslim, prays five times a day and speaks passionately about her faith. Mary passed the Bible to her, suggesting she read the first nine verses. Nilufer read the first three verses, paused, and said enthusiastically, “So nice!” She continued reading, paused again and remarked, “So true!” When Nilufer got to verse nine, she asked Mary, “Can I keep reading?” and read the whole chapter. Lastly, she asked, “Does this book talk about marriage and relationships? Does it speak about the Day of Judgment?” Mary reflected, “I didn’t really have to say much that day; it was the Word alone that impacted Nilufer.” Since then Mary and her husband have grown close to Nilufer and her husband, finding many opportunities to share their faith and pray with this couple. Pray that God’s Word would continue to impact and work in their lives.
UK: Mehmet* was brought up in southeast Turkey, but rejected Islam, moved to London and found himself caught up in decadence—drink, women, gambling. “I was drowning in these evils,” said Mehmet, “unable to think of anything good.”
He moved to Germany and spent time constantly on the internet, coming across a chat room called New Testament Good News Turkish Christian. “I was astonished,” shared Mehmet. “Was it possible to be a Turkish Christian? I entered the chat room to curse and mock them. I continued entering the chat room for some days. After a week, I heard a voice in the room telling me to believe, and I came to faith. Hallelujah!”
Mehmet returned to the UK and made contact with the Yeni Yaşam Fellowship in North London. He was baptised in November and shared how the Lord had turned his intention to curse and mock into deep conviction of sin, which lead to repentance and salvation. Now Mehmet is witnessing to other Turkish-speaking Muslims around the world in the same chat room where he came to faith.
2–8 January – Gaza: Pray for justice in whatever way God brings it. Pray for the protection of the innocent, whether they are Muslim, Jewish or Christian.
9–15 January – Sweden and Switzerland: Both countries have growing number of Muslims, especially Somalis in Sweden. Pray for outreaches that show the light of Jesus.
16–22 January – Sudan and South Sudan: Now two countries, the political situation remains tense and uncertain. Pray for pioneer workers to take the Good News to the lost, unreached and unengaged.
23–28 January – China: Pray for the growing church in its desire to send out workers to the nations.
The IC Nomination Group is calling for a day of prayer and fasting across the OM world. Please take time individually, and as a team or field on Thursday, 12 January to ask God for His leading.
Fasting allows us extra time for praying, and the ability to focus. Fasting can be just taking water/juice for the day; it can also be fasting from media, electronic entertainment, desserts, coffee, or all of the above! There is something powerful when a movement will stop activity/ministry for a day, fast and seek the Lord passionately.
Once again, on behalf of over 6100 workers from over 100 countries working in over 110 countries, I thank you for your prayers and support.
Your brother in Christ,
* names changed for security reasons
• D A V I D G R E E N L E E •
Many aspects of 21st century ministry are not covered in detail in the Bible. Look in the book of Acts for a detailed model for Internet-based evangelism—I doubt you will find it. While some of us, with Paul, share a shipwreck experience (one was enough for me), reading about Noah and Jonah don’t give many ideas for a ship-based ministry like the Logos Hope. And, while Scripture gives us many excellent guidelines for developing and choosing leaders, using urim and thummim (Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65), or narrowing our search to two candidates and then casting lots (Acts 1:26), do not seem to be the right options in our search for OM’s next International Coordinator.
When it comes to leadership appointments, however, one biblical principle is certainly clear: the need for prayer. Consider these brief examples:
This new year, 2012, is of special significance for OM as we move toward appointment of our next International Coordinator. Recommendations are being received from the OM family, and plans in place for the Nomination Group to lead the process of identifying and, in early 2013, appointing that leader along with the Associate International Coordinators. But much more is needed than human wisdom can offer or human resources experts can suggest.
For that reason, the Nomination Group is calling for a special prayer emphasis day on 12 January, as well as ongoing prayer throughout the year. Would you please join with us? Here are some things to consider.
With these and similar questions, let us also pray that, as a movement, we will proceed with faith, not fear. God does have the right senior leadership team ‘in preparation’ for us. May we together wait patiently and eventually hear his voice clearly—and may the one he has chosen respond with humble assurance when taking on this role.
Credit: OM International · © 2011 OM International