A.D. 635 -1839
The early attempts to evangelize China
Early attempts to evangelize China, such as those by Nestorian Christians in A.D. 635, were often met with persecution. By 1839 the Opium Wars had broken out and Protestant missionaries entering China in the 19th century found evangelization work to be restricted and slow-going. Around this time the Chinese Evangelisation Society (CES) sent Hudson Taylor to China.
Hudson Taylor works for the Chinese Evangelization Society (CES)
June 25, 1865
The founding of the China Inland Mission (CIM)
“Unable to bear the sight of a congregation of a thousand or more Christian people rejoicing in their own security, while millions were perishing for lack of knowledge, I wandered out on the sands alone … there the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service.” – James Hudson Taylor
The Lammermuir sets sail
Taylor left England for China with his family and 16 workers aboard the Lammermuir. The CIM missionaries visited China’s provinces dressed in Chinese clothing, preaching the gospel and attempting to start churches. By the end of 1866, 24 workers were active in four stations across inland China.
Two calls for advance
With the total number of missionaries at barely 100, a call to pray for 70 new workers went out. In response, God provided 73 new workers within three years. The Cambridge Seven followed close behind. God’s provision continued when the call for 100 went out in 1886 and 102 workers sailed for China within the year.
In a reign of terror, the Boxers set out to exterminate all foreigners in China. Hundreds of missionaries and Chinese Christians were put to death. The CIM alone lost 58 missionaries and 21 children as martyrs. During this period the CIM increased to 933 people.
Hudson Taylor dies
After 50 years of active service for China, Hudson Taylor died on June 3 in Changsha and was buried in Zhenjiang next to his first wife, Maria.
Years of growth for the CIM
Early ministries of the CIM involved starting churches, supporting literature work, evangelism and running hospitals and schools. By 1915, 1,063 workers were located at 227 work stations throughout China. The mission’s peak was in 1934 with 1,368 missionaries serving 364 stations.
Darkness reigns, but the CIM calls for 200
A tumultuous political situation resulted in Christians across China being persecuted, tortured and put to death. Half of the overall missionary community left permanently. In the midst of darkness, the CIM issued a new call for 200 new missionaries over two years. By 1931 there were 203 new missionaries on the field.
Continued growth and many baptized
The CIM had more than 1,300 missionaries and almost 200,000 Chinese and minority people had been baptized by 1939. During World War II and the years that followed, missionaries shared the gospel among university students and professionals, even government leaders.
The “Reluctant Exodus” from China
Communism took over China in 1949. Many missions left, but despite the difficulty for all foreign workers, the CIM first issued a call for missionaries to stay and then brought 49 new workers in 1948 and 1949. In 1950 the CIM General Director deemed that further work in China was impossible and ordered all missionaries to leave.
The future of the CIM decided
The CIM decided that, rather than dissolve, the mission would continue and expand to new fields: Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan. A new headquarters was established in Singapore.
A new identity for the mission
The China Inland Mission changed its name to Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) in 1964 (and then to OMF International in 1993). The mission began welcoming Asians into membership and set up home offices in eight regions of East Asia.
Growth and expansion throughout East Asia
Discovering great pockets of need that included totally unreached people groups in the countries surrounding China, the Overseas Missionary Fellowship decided that God wanted them to move forward in new faith.
Home councils were formed in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia. In 1988, openings came to help place people in China once again.
Continuing the legacy with Dr. Patrick Fung, General Director
Dr. Patrick Fung became General Director, the first Asian to hold this position in OMF International.
150 years of God’s faithfulness
Today we are a team of over 2000 workers, from 40 nations, serving approximately 100 people groups in East Asia – and among the Asian Diaspora world wide
In 2015 OMF International celebrates 150 years of God’s faithfulness to the mission.
This is how God has been using us for the past 150 years. How will he use you?