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29 November 2019

How Indigenous Are the OMF Asian Home Councils? Tracing the History of their Establishment.[1]

Synopsis:

This paper recounts the birth and development of OMF’s Asian Home Councils, points out the key issues faced by these councils, identifies changes that have emerged over the years, and considers whether Asian Home Councils can be legitimately considered indigenous.

Koyuki Sami
Koyuki Sami

Koyuki Sami joined OMF in 1992. She worked among the urban and rural poor in the Philippines for thirteen years, as mobilizer and Serve Asia Coordinator for the Japan Homeside for five years, and as Human Resources Coordinator for New Horizons for six years. She took up the Executive Director’s role for the Japan Home Council in April 2019.

Introduction

I have always been interested in how OMF’s Asian Home Councils came into being and how they developed over the years.[2] It has been a blessing and privilege to be a member of this international organization for more than twenty-seven years, particularly as CIM/OMF is held in high regard by Asian churches due to the legacy of Hudson Taylor. However, I have been keenly aware that many Asian members and Asian Home Councils have faced significant struggles and frustrations within the organization.

When I overheard someone ask whether Asian Home Councils should be considered indigenous mission movements, I began to think about Asian Home Councils from the perspective of indigeneity. How does our existence fit this perception? According to Andrew Walls, a traditional mission agency is basically “a product of the concomitance of certain political, economic, and religious conditions at a certain period of western history.”[3] From Walls’s perspective, OMF is clearly one of those traditional mission agencies. When it opened the door for Asians to join in 1965, it was a thoroughly Western organization. Since their inception, OMF Asian Home Councils have struggled to fit into this Western organization and at the same time to indigenize the function of a Home Council. My thinking about the place of Asian Home Councils in the organization has been further motivated by my recent experience working with a team that mobilizes and accepts workers from countries where OMF does not have Home Councils. The difficulties faced are all part of God’s stretching and molding of the organization in ways which have resulted in more people engaging in mission and in changes in the overall ethos and practice of the organization.

This paper will paint a portrait of the birth and development of OMF’s Asian Home Councils, point out the key issues faced by these councils, identify changes that have emerged over the years, and consider whether Asian Home Councils can be legitimately considered indigenous. While preparing the paper, I had access to the archives of OMF that are held in Singapore. However, as material that is less than twenty-five years old is not available for public use, I only had access to council minutes up to 1993. In order to gain more information about the Asian Home Councils, I prepared interviews and questionnaires for both current and former Home Council leaders. Sadly, many of the early Asian Home Council leaders have gone to be with the Lord during the last ten years. This fact makes me wish that this study could have been done earlier.

Brief history of CIM/OMF International (1865–today)[4]

Birth of China Inland Mission

The reality that millions of Chinese living in inland China were dying without hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ urged James Hudson Taylor to found a new mission organization. He prayed for twenty-four skillful workers, and, in faith, opened a bank account with the name of the China Inland Mission (CIM) on 25 June 1865. The CIM was born. The following year, Taylor together with his family and sixteen new workers, sailed for China. In subsequent years, God faithfully answered prayers for additional workers. The sending countries also expanded from the UK to several other Western countries.

Trials and Expansion

In 1900, the Boxer rebellion broke out, and hundreds of local Christians and missionaries lost their lives, including fifty-eight adults and twenty-one children from the CIM. Despite the tragedy and political upheavals that occurred throughout China during the early 1900s, God continued to add more workers to the harvest field. By 1939, the CIM had more than 1300 missionaries.

In 1949, when communism took over China, the mission faced one of the most significant milestones in its history. All missionaries were forced to leave China by 1953 in what is often referred to as the “Reluctant Exodus”.[5] Concerns for Chinese believers inside the country and for the future of the organization on the outside lay heavily on the leaders’ hearts. After much prayer and discussion, CIM leadership decided that when God closes a door, he opens another, and shifted their ministry to other neighboring East Asian countries. By 1951, the international headquarters had been established in Singapore.[6]

A new beginning and today

Almost immediately discussions began about whether it would be possible to accept non-Caucasian members (1953) and continued until the decision was finalized in 1961 when the Minutes of Overseas Council stated that the acceptance was limited to those “who are born citizens and reared in our homelands (where CIM had Home Councils).”[7] Reflecting on this, Rosemary Aldis comments that “While this may be seen as a minimal step forward after a decade of debate, the decision was to have far-reaching consequences.”[8]

One of the consequences that Aldis pointed to came out in a 1964 decision by the Overseas Council—the highest decision-making body in the organization at that time. A paper prepared for the Overseas Council by G. A. Williamson titled “The Greater Potential” emphasized “the resources and potential of the churches in Asia and the Mission’s possible contribution through them.”[9] The General Director, J. O. Sanders, presented a paper titled “Future of the Mission” which suggested that the Fellowship should “work more closely with Asian churches and not separately as a missionary organization,” and “find some way in which Asian nationals called to serve in other lands may be associated with us.” He emphasized the need to “Destroy the concept of ‘foreign’ missions and substitute a working fellowship of compatible missionaries of all origins – truly international.”[10] Some interesting discussions must have taken place. The minutes of the following week read, “The Fellowship will thus cease to be an agency for sending missionaries from Western lands to lands of the East and will instead be an instrument of the Church of God in every land from which its members are drawn…”

On the last day, a Special Council was summoned and made two big decisions. The first was called a “New Instrument.”[11] It determined that “the name China Inland Mission is obsolete and recommended that from June 25, 1965 (the 100th anniversary of the Mission) the name should be Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF).” The second concerned a new structure that would allow the organization to form a new Fellowship together “with Asian colleagues and the pattern jointly received from God Himself.”[12] In this way, a new chapter in the mission’s history began in 1965 when it formally adopted the name “The Overseas Missionary Fellowship” (OMF) and work began to set up Asian Home Councils in East Asian countries where OMF had been working.

Over the years, Asian Home Councils have been set up in nine countries to mobilize the Asian churches for missions and send out their missionaries. Since 2012, OMF has renewed its efforts to receive workers from like-minded indigenous mission agencies and churches around the world where OMF does not have Home Councils or sending centers and to reach out to East Asian people both in East Asia and globally.

Formative period of Asian Home Councils (AHC) 1965–1985

Preparations

To implement the second decision, the General Director sent letters to Area (Field) Directors who were instructed to identify and interview National Christian leaders regarding the possibility of setting up OMF Asian Home Councils. It is intriguing to read the reports on the meetings between Japan Area representatives and Japanese Christian leaders which took place in March and April 1965. These discussions mark the moment when the OMF Japan Home Council was conceived. After some discussion on the subject, Dr. David Tsutada, a leader of an emerging Japanese indigenous church group called Immanuel General Mission, concluded the time by admitting that “God had led us in this formation of the New Instrument,” but predicted problems would arise due to cultural differences between the East and West.[13] Rev. Haga, who later held the chairmanship of the Japan Home Council for thirty years, said, “The OMF was not born in the heart of Japanese. It has come to us from outside and we need to learn of it.”[14] He emphasized that “the chairman should be one who is well versed in the OMF approach and preserve in the Council the OMF atmosphere” and suggested that the OMF Field Superintendent should serve as Chairman at the early stage. Dr. Tsutada countered this idea by suggesting that having a Japanese Chairman or possibly a Japanese co-chairman would avoid giving an impression to the public that the new OMF was a Western organization. Rev. A. Hatori, who was widely known as the Radio Pastor, was sympathetic with the new Fellowship and interested in assisting in implementing the idea. Shortly after, he was appointed to be the first Chairman of the Japan Home Council and served in the capacity until Rev. Haga took over in 1974.

Inauguration of Asian Home Councils

Similar interviews and meetings took place in five different countries in East Asia where OMF was working, and similar responses came out that it was the time for them to form missionary sending councils. Christian leaders from these countries expressed similar concerns as the Japanese, such as OMF being seen as a Western mission organization and the lack of adequate personnel to lead a Council. Nevertheless, as a result of those meetings, Home Councils were inaugurated in Singapore/Malaysia (November 1965), Japan (January 1966), the Philippines (early 1966), and Hong Kong (September 1966) around the time of CIM/OMF’s 100th anniversary (1965). In May 1977, a new Home Council was formed in Malaysia, as they separated from Singapore. Korea took a couple of years of preparation before formally launching their Home Council in June 1980. Taiwan also formed their Home Council in 1980, Indonesia was added in 1985, and Thailand finally joined in 1990 at the time of CIM/OMF’s 125th anniversary.

It is noteworthy that although many Asian leaders were positive about forming OMF Asian Home Councils, it was not Asian churches or believers who initiated the partnership, but CIM/OMF. While there may have been some individual suggestions from Asian believers, the interviews and questionnaire conducted with Asian Home Council leaders testify that the idea was from OMF, not from them. Similarly, no council meeting minutes expressly say that the opening of Asian Home Councils had been requested by Asian churches.

Nevertheless, it came as a sign of the providence of God. The Councils formed at a time when the social and economic landscape of Asia was rapidly and radically changing. Asian countries were gaining confidence in their status in the world. Spiritually, Asian churches, as well as parachurch groups, were growing and becoming active.[15] Billy Graham publicly declared Singapore to be the Antioch of Asia at the Singapore Billy Graham Crusade held in December 1978.[16] Asian churches were ready to take up the challenge of getting involved in world mission, and OMF needed Asian colleagues to advance the mission to reach out to East Asians with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Slow but steady progress

The OMF Asian Home Councils began with a mixture of excitement and struggle. Early on, most of the Councils met quite frequently, some meeting almost every month. This shows their enthusiasm and sense of urgency. However, the early years were also marked by a high turnover of Council members. According to some leaders, discouragement came because pastors and other Christian leaders were too busy and there was a lack of missionary candidates to send out. Asian Home Councils thus progressed slowly during the 60s and early 70s, and by 1975, OMF had accepted only sixteen Asian missionaries (Table 1).

Table 1. Member statistics from Asian Home Councils 1965–2018
* The numbers sent by the Malaysia and Singapore Home Councils are combined under Singapore.

Some other struggles and issues also surfaced, such as the great mission needs at home, which discouraged many from considering overseas mission; frustration over the need to learn the English language and the Western nature of the organization; lack of mobilization tools in Asian languages; the relationship between Field and Home Councils, etc. While Field leaders attended Asian Home Councils meetings to give support, in reality, some Field leaders chaired some of these Councils in the early years. As time went by, frustration on the field sides and international leadership arose as they wanted to see Asian Home Councils become indigenous. An international leader stated, “We have tended to hand over completely to our Asian brethren on the national councils the responsibility of carrying on a normal home department. Not much progress is being made by these Councils: for one thing, there is the difficulty of having a full-time man…”[17] At one point, the frustration felt by international leadership led to a somewhat disrespectful action as they approached someone to serve as a Home Council Director without first consulting the Asian Home Councils.[18] A report from the Japan Home Council by a field leader reads, “It is worth pointing out to the General Director that it is important that we have the man of Japanese choice than some brother who happened to have caught our fancy.”[19]

Despite the obstacles, Asian Home Councils made steady progress. At the Central Council meeting in 1976,[20] the reports from Asian Home Councils were all encouraging. Japan had sent their first two couples abroad, and financial support was constantly above 100% despite the fear that Japanese churches might not understand OMF’s non-solicitation policy. Hong Kong appointed its first part-time home staff person as chairman/administrator and office secretary. Singapore/Malaysia accepted three new workers. The Philippines appointed its first Executive Secretary. The chairman of the Central Council expressed appreciation of the high standards maintained by Asian Home Councils and emphasized that the quality of the candidates was more important than their quantity.[21]

At the same time, new challenges and issues were arising. These included the education of the children of Asian missionaries, the mission’s responsibility for the maintenance of missionaries’ family members (particularly parents), the need of furlough arrangements more suited for Asian missionaries, the needs for special training for Asian candidates, and preparation and care for new Asian missionaries. The Extension Secretary was appointed to assist the Asian Home Councils (1969), and the newly formed Asian Home Council Chairmen Consultation (1981) became a platform to share the concerns and issues unique to Asian missionaries and Asian Home Councils. Some of these concerns were brought up to the Central Council for further discussions and decisions. The Council minutes of the Central Council 1982 reads, “The Council endorsed the need for multicultural emphasis throughout the Fellowship for mutual integration of all members and their host country.”[22]

The Asian candidates’ lack of cross-cultural training and English proficiency were among the top concerns faced by Asian Home Councils. To help overcome these problems, a training institution called Asian Missionary Training Institute (now called Asian Cross-cultural Training Institute) was launched in 1984. This institution and a short-term program called SPOT (Summer Program of Overseas Training) helped Asian people and candidates gain cross-cultural mission experience and training. As the common Asian practice of providing financial support for one’s parents was recognized, Asian Home Councils were given liberty to allow members to make it part of their support budget (1984). More flexibility regarding the length of one’s furlough was given considerations, as Asians didn’t need to travel far, the cost of air flights were reduced, and requests from their sending churches were recognized.

Development and growth of Asian Home Councils (1986–1999)

From the mid-1980s through the 1990s, the number of members from Asian Home Councils proliferated. Members of OMF from Asian Home Councils made up only 4.8% of the total workforce in 1985. By 2000, it had grown to 17.2% (Table 2).

Table 2. Ratio of members from Asian Homesides to total number of members 1960–2018
Note: This table shows demographic trends from Asian Home Councils and gives figures for every five years and March 2018. The data was retrieved from OMF archive personnel data (up to 2005) and International Personnel System (2010–2018).
Fig. 1. Total number of members and number of members from Asian Homesides 1940–2018

The rapid growth of missionaries from Korea and Singapore during this period is also remarkable (Table 1, Fig. 2). Reasons for this are said to be related to the growth in maturity of the national churches and their commitment to world mission.[23]

Fig. 2. Number of members from Asian Homesides 1965–2018[24]

Field Council and Asian Home Council relationship

From the year 1986 on, the amount of time given to Asian Home Councils in the agendas of Overseas Council and Central Council meetings decreased greatly. This shows that the Councils were considered to be well established. However, as Asian Home Councils were established and grew, the role of the Field was to change from leading and supporting to being equal partners with national leadership or, in some countries, to come under the Home Councils. Thus, the need for mutual interaction, better communication, and cooperation between Field Councils and Home Councils were addressed by the General Director at the Asian Home Council Chairmen Consultation in 1987:

This does not mean that the separate and independent nature of either field or home council should be altered, but that there is room for much greater communication, counsel, and cooperation if we are to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding, costly duplication and embarrassing mistakes; and if we are to maximize the complementary role the two councils can and should exercise.[25]

Even so, an Asian Home Council leader questioned the power imbalance that existed in some countries between field and home. This is particularly an issue in fields with a large number of workers in that their added voice gives them more power.

National leadership[26]

The most remarkable thing that happened during the 80s and 90s is that each Asian Home Council (with the exception of Indonesia) found full-time national leaders. Councils were thus able to grow in terms of their mobilization efforts and in the number of missionaries sent. Many exciting reports began to fill the Home Council minutes.

The Philippines Home Council was the first to appoint a full-time Executive Secretary in 1978. William Layda was one of the first Asian missionaries sent out in 1970 to Indonesia by the Philippines Home Council. After two terms, however, he had to return home for family reasons. At that time, he took up the full-time Executive Secretary role at Philippines Home Council until he and his wife were ready again to go back to the field. In later years, the position was taken by others until it was renamed as Home Director in 1991.

In 1987, Singapore became the first of all the Asian Home Councils to have a Home Director. Seeing experienced field workers restricted to homeside ministry at the peak of their missionary career, Kenneth Tan, who was a Council member, felt that he should take the role so that the others could continue to work on the fields. He later became the National Director of Singapore which is responsible for both homeside and field ministries in Singapore.

The Korean Home Council was formed later than some other Asian Home Councils. However, they had a full-time Executive Secretary very early after its formation in 1980, and in 1992 the first Home Director was appointed.

Hong Kong had its first Executive Secretary in 1988, Thailand in 1991, and Malaysia in 1992. The Home Council of Indonesia was formed in 1985 and is still looking for a full-time Home Director.

An interesting process took place in both Hong Kong and Japan in that International leadership appointed Dr. James Taylor to serve in Hong Kong and Alan Mitchel in Japan as Acting Home Directors. Both of them were well experienced and respected field missionaries; however, appointing foreigners rather than nationals at this stage of development looked like a setback from the nationalization/indigenization of those Asian Home Councils. Both Taylor and Mitchel expressed the desire to hand over the responsibility to national leaders as soon as possible. However, in my opinion, it was a necessary transition for both Councils to accept at that time. Unlike the previous period, suddenly almost a dozen missionary candidates appeared one after another in Japan.[27] There was no way for a full-time pastor/part-time Chairman to handle the sudden increase in candidates for mission. Chairman Haga used to say, “The church ministry is my priority, if it had to suffer, I would resign from OMF.”[28] The Hong Kong Council probably faced a similar situation. During 1985 to 1990, the number of candidates increased rapidly (Table 1). Thus, it was a timely and vital step to have experienced and capable full-time persons to move candidates forward until the appointment of National Directors in 1992 for Hong Kong and 1994 for Japan.

Asian Home Councils’ cooperative efforts

New Workers’ Introductory Course (1994–?)

Preparing Asian candidates for the new workers’ Orientation Course at OMF International Headquarters was one of the tasks that Asian directors had to tackle. Many Asian missionaries struggled with the lack of English proficiency and cross-cultural experience, so their first encounter of a multi-cultural environment at the Orientation Course was overwhelming. While some Western Home Councils ran one- to two-week in-house candidate courses as a part of the candidate process, many Asian Home Councils had no comparable course. The first Japan Home Director, Makino-san (appointed in 1994), having previously served as the Orientation Course Superintendent at International Headquarters, worked with some other Asian leaders to organize a joint Asian candidates course called the New Workers’ Introductory Course. It required a lot of work and coordination but proved beneficial for many Asian candidates. Eventually, as Asian Home Councils began to have more candidates and gained experience to run their own candidate courses, this joint effort ceased.

Asian Frontiers Mission Conference (1996–today)

Asian Home Councils also joined together in a mobilization effort called the Asian Frontiers Mission Conference. Its aim is to introduce different mission opportunities to young Asian professionals. It is an encouraging time for participants to meet with hundreds of other Asians who are interested in missions and also learn about what God is doing on various mission fields and explore how God might use them with their professions.

Cross-Cultural Missions (CCM) at home

From the beginning of the Asian Home Councils, the great need for missions at home was always mentioned, particularly in Indonesia and the southern Philippines where many remain unreached. Home Councils often found it frustrating that OMF was not open to accepting missionaries to work within their own countries. However, in 1993 OMF officially recognized the need and opened the door for cross-cultural missions at home.[29] Subsequently, both the Home Councils in Indonesia and the Philippines experienced a significant period of growth in the number of workers. (See Table 1, Fig. 2.) Indonesia, which had only sent out one member since the establishment of Home Council in 1985, received fourteen workers between 1995 and 2000. The Philippines saw an increase in the number of workers from ten in 1995 to forty-four in 2005, many of whom are cross-cultural workers in their own country.[30] The original idea was for national workers to work alongside expatriates as OMF workers. However, the program created some struggles and tension among the workers, misunderstandings among the national churches, and pushed for a structural change in OMF. The process was painful. “Though CCM was under our Home Council, it was not recognized as part of OMF for there was no place in the structure… It took more than two OMF Central Councils to make this change,” said one of the Home Council leaders. While he believes that this type of cross-cultural work is indigenous mission, he does not think it is big enough to call it a movement.

Although it is not considered to be “missions at home,” it is probably noteworthy that one of the reasons for the rapid growth of missionaries from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan (particularly for short-term) from this period onwards is Chinese-speaking workers sent to work among other Chinese speakers.

The maturing of Asian Home Councils and new challenges (2000–today)

Mobilization 

Asian Home Councils have gained good experience and tools in the area of mobilization and have continued to develop. Many prayer groups have been established, and mobilization and follow up events have been planned and executed by dedicated home staff. The Singapore Home Council has been helping other Asian Home Councils by sharing mobilization and follow up ideas. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore share some mobilization resources, such as magazines and videos in the Chinese language. Korea has developed a book ministry to connect with their supporters. The Philippines Home Council has a number of trained and enthusiastic volunteers.[31] Japan has been building meaningful relationships with several Bible colleges, some of which have sent students and teachers on mission exposure trips with OMF short-term programs. Indonesia is exploring diaspora ministries at home.

Short-Term Mission (Serve Asia)

One of the significant developments in the last ten years or so is the growth in short-term workers sent within Asia (Fig. 4). While short-term mission was already a trend in the West during the 90s, Asia seems to have caught up. Last year, about half of OMF’s short-termers were sent by Asian Home Councils (Fig. 3). Some adjustments have been made to the program to accommodate for people from Asia, such as length of service, English proficiency requirements for individuals and teams, etc.

Fig. 3. Short term workers sent by continent 2017[32]
Fig. 4. Short term workers sent by continent 2011–201732
*New Horizons: Countries where OMF does not have sending centers, such as Africa, Latin America, and some parts of Europe.

New challenges

Globalization has led to new modes of communication and changes in organizational systems. In 2000, OMF made a big change to its financial system. Before that, all support funds received were pooled and shared throughout the Fellowship. Although the new financial system still has some sharing components, it has become more individualized. This change has impacted the Asian Home Councils of lower-income nations.

While email, online systems, and websites have speeded up our communication, they have produced a massive volume of information for everyone to deal with. OMF introduced a new computer data system in 2008 which performs many different functions, such as personnel management, candidature, finance, training, etc. Many Asian Home Council leaders find it very challenging to keep up with the amount of information they have to deal with and to learn the technical matters of using the system.

One Asian leader said, “It is particularly difficult for smaller Homesides to keep up with things due to lack of manpower and makes them feel guilty.” Others mentioned similar concerns as everything needs to be done in English. The struggle with the English language seems to be a never-ending issue. There is also a strong element of centralization in a system in which everything is standardized and manual steps are expected to be followed exactly. One Asian Home Council leader commented, “Everything is templated. I don’t use them. I evaluate my staff in the indigenous way.”

Thoughts on indigeneity of Asian Home Councils

Asian churches did not initiate the Asian Home Councils. Thus, the Councils were not indigenous from the beginning. However, all the Asian Home Councils are now led by national leaders and self-governed, thus, nationalized/indigenized. In the area of mobilization, some policies, member care, and a certain degree of candidature, are practiced in more indigenous ways, which result in an increased number of workers both long-term and short-term.

However, one leader commented, “Once you are ‘in’ OMF, it is Western.” Many Asian Home Council leaders said that the use of English, decision-making procedures, and the structure of the organization still strongly reflect Western philosophy or values, and Asians have to conform to a certain extent. Some pointed to the lack of Asians in the high levels of leadership, while others suggested that more Asian Home Council Directors should become National Directors to lead both the field and home operations of the country, as OMF endorses indigenous mission movements. However, all Asian Home Council leaders agree that it is impossible for Asian Home Councils to be indigenous as they are part of an international organization. This is, in a sense, ironic.

Cover of Dec 1980/Jan 1981 issue of East Asia Millions (North American edition).

Some leaders emphasized the positive aspects of being in an international organization. One former leader thinks that being indigenous is somewhat dangerous as they tend to see things from a mono-cultural point of view. Some leaders do not explain the issues as a Western versus Eastern dichotomy, but rather suggest that we should embrace the differences and the joys of working in an international organization.

Conclusion

Although each Asian Home Council is at a different stage of development, they have learned to do mission mobilization and become missionary sending centers with the help and patience of Western colleagues and pursued the goal of being indigenous in some aspects over the last fifty-four years. At the same time, Asian Home Councils, with their Asian perspectives, have challenged OMF to be less Western and become truly international. OMF needs to work continuously on some areas where Asian Home Council leaders strongly feel the need for change, namely the use of English, decision-making processes, and the tendency to be more structure-oriented than relational. Such changes will bring an open door not only for more Asians to join but also for workers from the rest of the world that OMF has begun to engage in the last seven years.

As we work together for the shared vision and mission of reaching the peoples of East Asia, each one of us needs to be humble, sensitive, and respectful to each other. By doing so, we will advance the work and bring glory to the God of mission.

Questionnaire to OMF Asian Home Council Present and Past Leaders

(Customized versions were sent to each)

  1. How did your Home Council start? Was it a vision of Asian church or from OMF (totally Western organization then)?
  2. What were the joys and struggles of the Home Council?
  3. What were the key factors (events, personnel, decisions, etc.) that impacted the development or setbacks of the Home Council?
  4. Do you consider your Home Council as an Indigenous Mission Movement (IMM) or a representative (sending center) of OMF International?
  5. What aspects of Home Council’s ministries are indigenous? Did/do you wish to be more indigenous? Did you need to put aside your indigenous way to go along with the OMF International way?

For the Home Councils that have CCM:

  1. How did your Home Cross-cultural mission (CCM) come to be?
  2. Is your CCM considered to be an indigenous mission?
  3. What are advantages of and disadvantages of being in OMF?

Remarks 

  • The above Questionnaire was sent by email to all nine Asian Home Council centers and some former leaders as well as international leaders.
  • Face to face interviews were also conducted with the above questions with some Asian and international leaders.
  • In total, five current Asian Directors, four former Directors/Chairmen, and three current international leaders replied to the questionnaire or answered to the interview.
  • Beside above formal questionnaires and interviews, the author had informal but insightful conversations about Asian Home Councils and Indigenous Mission Movement with several international leaders over meals or in the offices at OMF International Center for which she is grateful.

[1] An earlier version of this paper was submitted for the course “History of the World Christian Movement” held at Biola University during Spring 2018.

[2] Home Councils, Homesides, and lately Sending Centers are used in our organization almost synonymously. This paper regularly uses Home Councils to avoid confusion. The other terms are frequently found in quotations.

[3] Andrew F. Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996), 258.

[4] See “CIM/OMF Timeline: pre 1865 to 2015,” https://omf.org/blog/2015/02/27/cim-omf-timeline/ (accessed 27 September 2019) and Roger Steer, J. Hudson Taylor: A Man in Christ (Singapore: OMF, 1990).

[5] See Phyllis Thompson, China: The Reluctant Exodus (Sevenoaks: Hodder & Stoughton, 1979).

[6] See David Huntley, “The Withdrawal of the China Inland Mission from China and their Redeployment to New Fields in East Asia” (PhD thesis, Trinity Theological Seminary, 2002).

[7] “Seventh Session of the Overseas Council, Minutes of Overseas Council meeting held in Singapore on Wednesday, November 15, 1961” OMF Singapore Archives (OMFSA) AR 5.2.4 Box 1.7.

[8] Rosemary H. Aldis, “Unity in Diversity: Partnership between East Asians and Westerners in OMF International” (MA thesis, All Nations Christian College, 1999), 17. The details of the process are further described in Aldis, “Unity in Diversity,” and Warren R. Beattie, “OMF International: An Assessment of the Impact of Internationalization and Interactions with the Korean Missionary Movement from 1964 to 1998” (MSc thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1998).

[9] “Ninth Session of the Overseas Council, Minutes of Overseas Council meeting held in Singapore on Saturday, October 3, 1964,” OMFSA AR 5.2.4 Box 1.9.

[10] J. O. Sanders, “Future of the Mission,” paper presented at the “Ninth Session of the Overseas Council meeting held in Singapore on October 8, 1964,” OMFSA AR 5.2.4 Box 1.9. Underline by Sanders.

[11] See Denis Lane, Turning God’s New Instruments: A Handbook for Missions from the Two-Thirds World (Singapore: World Evangelical Fellowship, 1990).

[12] “Meeting of a Special Council comprising the Directors and members of the Overseas Council of the China Inland Mission Overseas Missionary Fellowship, called by the General Director and held at 33 Chancery Lane, Singapore on Wednesday, 14th October 1964,” OMFSA AR 5.2.4 Box 1.9.

[13] “Visit to Dr. David Tsutada Mar. 27, 1965,” OMFSA AR 6.2.2 Box 1.15.

[14] “Notes of Interviews with Japanese Christian Leaders – April 1965 Re Formation of Japanese OMF Advisory Council,” OMFSA AR 6.2.2 Box 1.15.

[15] For Singapore, see Violet James, “The Church and the Missionary Movement in Singapore,” in Mission History of Asian Churches, ed. Timothy K. Park (Pasadena: William Carey, 2011), 183. For the Philippines, see Tereso C. Casiño, “The Rise of the Filipino Missionary Movement: A Preliminary Historical Assessment,” in Mission History of Asian Churches, 206, 208, For Japan, see 中村敏,日本キリスト教宣教史ーザビエル以前から今日まで. いのちのことば社, 2009 [Satoshi Nakamura, History of Mission in Japan: From Pre-Xavier to Today. Tokyo: Word of Life, 2009], 314–25.

[16] John S. Tay, A Short History of Indigenous Mission in Singapore: With a Special Focus on the Pioneering Role of Dr. Tan Kok Beng (Singapore: Armour, 2010), 74.

[17] “Seventeenth Session of the Overseas Council 12–25 October 1974, Headquarters Report, Development of Asian Missionary Programme,” OMFSA AR 5.2.4 Box 1.17.

[18] A similar incident took place in another country in 1981 when international leadership extended an official invitation for someone to join OMF for a possible appointment as Home Director. The alarm was raised by an Asian Home Council member who saw this as a dangerous action (“Minutes of a meeting of the Philippines Home Council April 25, 1981 at the OMF Mission Home,” OMFSA AR 6.2.3 Box 2.1).

[19] “Japan Home Council – April 24th 1974,” Letter from D. J. Abrahams to Denis [Lane], 1 May 1974, OMFSA AR 6.2.2 Box 1.14.

[20] At that time, the Central Council was the highest decision-making body in the mission, consisting of directors and chairmen from both Home Councils and Field Councils. Meetings were held every three years.

[21] “Minutes of the Central Council meeting held in Singapore on Friday, October 8, 1976,” OMFSA AR 5.2.4 Box 2.1.

[22] “Minutes of the Central Council meeting held in Singapore on Wednesday, September 15, 1982,” OMFSA AR 5.2.4 Box 2.7.

[23] Timothy K. Park, “Missionary Movement of the Korean Church,” in Mission History of Asian Churches, 165–7, 182–5; Tay, A Short History of Indigenous Mission in Singapore, 75–9, 83–4).

[24] Andrea Roldan, “International Facilitator for Serve Asia Coordinators’ Report 2017,” unpublished paper.

[25] “Asian Home Council Chairman’s Council, July 23, 1987, Field / Home Council Relationships,” OMFSA AR 7.1.2 Box 1.2.

[26] While an Executive Secretary worked under the Home Council, a Home Director was appointed and accountable to the International Director of Home Ministries. In later years, some Home Directors became National Directors and led both home and field ministries in the country while other Home Directors became Executive Directors.

[27] I was one of them, beginning my candidature in 1991 and joining OMF in 1992.

[28] OMF 日本委員会, 温故創新ーOMF の軌跡と展望Remember, Rejoice and Renew.イーグレープ [OMF Japan Home Council. Trace and Future vision of OMF: Remember, Rejoice and Renew] (2015), 79.

[29] “Minutes of the Central Council meeting held in Singapore Tuesday, September 14, 1993”; “Internal Communication to OMF Members, OMF Central Council 1993, Pioneering – with New Local Mission Partners!,” OMFSA AR5.2.5 Box 1.1.

[30] Another cause for this growth may be the DAWN [Discipling a Whole Nation] 2000 church planting movement. See Jim Montgomery, DAWN 2000: 7 million Churches to Go (Pasadena: William Carey, 1989).

[31] However, their mobilization efforts do not always pay off in terms of the number of missionaries sent because churches in the Philippines generally send people overseas as tentmakers. Casiño, “The Rise of the Filipino Missionary Movement,” 216.

[32] Roldan, “International Facilitator for Serve Asia Coordinators’ Report 2017”.