How do you support over 2,000 gospel workers from more than 40 nations? How do you make sure they have all they need to serve effectively?
OMF places workers in local teams with support from their OMF Center. It’s the job of the International Coordinators to support our Centers globally.
One of the roles on this team is our International Coordinator for Evangelisation. Their role is to provide advice, services, resources and training to support OMF workers as they seek to share the good news of Jesus in all its fullness with East Asia’s people around the world.
Over the rest of 2023, Andy Smith will be handing over that role to Tina Keller. Based in the Philippines, Andy has been serving in the role since 2015, while Tina serves in Taiwan.
We caught up with Andy and Tina to find out more about the role, what it involves and how we can pray for them.
What does a ‘typical’ week look like as International Coordinator for Evangelization?
Andy explains: ‘I have two kinds of typical weeks.
In the first kind, I work from my desk, interacting with my team members, engaging in email conversations with a variety of directors and colleagues, participating in virtual meetings, carrying out action steps from previous meetings, and preparing for upcoming events.
In the second kind, I attend consultations, a Center’s conference or facilitate training. During these events, I talk to many colleagues about their evangelization efforts. I learn from them, identify patterns across Centers, and look for ways that my team can better serve them.’
Andy adds that his role includes giving leadership to a wider team, including colleagues who lead the organisation in the areas of Creation Care, Healthcare Missions, Marketplace Ministries, Digital Evangelism and Mission Research.
Facing a Task Unfinished
One of the exciting things Andy has been involved in is The Task Unfinished initiative around OMF’s 150th anniversary in 2015. The name came from the hymn ‘Facing a Task Unfinished’, written by former China Inland Mission General Director Frank Houghton. The public awareness-raising campaign also included the Global Hymn Sing events, based around the song. We partnered with modern hymn writers, Keith & Kristyn Getty who added a new chorus and musical arrangements. The song and events highlighted that there are still millions of people without a local church or Bible in their language. In other words, with very little opportunity to hear about Jesus.
That public campaign came out of a desire to focus on OMF’s core mission of sharing the good news of Jesus with all the people groups of East Asia.
Internally, Andy and his team were part of the core team for The Task Unfinished initiative. They developed a model to define and track progress in the mission movements OMF teams were involved in. Developing the Six Stages of a Work model gave teams a common language for talking about their work and identifying progress. Andy shares: ‘This concept has been far more helpful than I expected and in additional ways than I expected.
We have formed a few interest groups and held some consultations that focused on an important area of our work. Each of these helped us agree on the way forward. Most of these also became platforms for sharing our best practices across Centers.’
Working on The Task Unfinished, Andy shares he was ‘thrilled to learn that we are already partnering with 27 East Asian people groups who are sending people out in mission.’
Andy says one of the biggest changes he has seen in his time in the role is ‘continuing to move from doing evangelization ourselves to more intentionally raising up local people to do it. At the same time, the reports data we are receiving tell us how we are doing in terms of partnering with local church planting and missionary sending movements. God has used The Task Unfinished and the Six Stages of Work model [illustrated below] to show us where we could see those happen in future and how we can continue to make progress in these partnerships.’
Andy has also encouraged OMF Centers to embrace the growing opportunities for digital evangelism, while noting: ‘We do not see these new tools as a replacement for living among the peoples and doing face-to-face ministry. Instead, we see them as supplementary tools which can help us identify households and communities that are open to the good news.’
I ask Andy what he will be doing next and how we can be praying for him. After time on home assignment in 2024, Andy says: ‘Lord willing, I will come back to the Philippines in early 2025. I hope to return to a full-time ministry of mentoring local church planters and leaders, developing additional discipleship and training materials, and facilitating OMF international training courses. Pray that God will be bringing together the people who will work with me on these tasks next term.’
Tina’s story: wide horizons
Tina Keller and her family have been based in Taiwan for 13 years. Sent through OMF (US), the family have been doing church planting in a working-class community in Central Taiwan.
Tina shares that the opportunities she has had in evangelism and discipleship ‘led me to see that I passionately want to see Taiwanese Christians be bold in sharing their faith, be passionate disciples of Jesus, and involved in the Great Commission.’
Tina also served in the OMF team in Taiwan as Missionary Care Coordinator and as Deputy Field Director for a time.
Why change roles?
Tina shares: ‘Even though I have been in Taiwan for 13 years, I have always been passionate to learn about what God is doing all over the world, even beyond the scope of OMF…. I personally just love to learn about the gospel needs all around the world and I love to hear stories of how God is working.’
Tina’s enthusiasm for her new role is evident. She says: ‘I love the opportunity to pray, to exercise faith and encourage people to continue to think about evangelism and discipleship in their ministry contexts. I believe evangelization is and should be the foundation for our mission work. We do what we do because we want to make Jesus known and to see people become disciples of Jesus.
I love the opportunity to hear about what people are doing all around OMF and to offer encouragement, pray with them, offer support and ministry training. I also enjoy helping people think strategically in what they are doing in their roles. I think in a role like this, it can help me bring a clear focus and understanding of what God is doing and how God is working through the lives of our colleagues to impact the world for his kingdom. What a humble privilege it is to serve him this way.
Ultimately this is a service role for OMF, and I get to serve our colleagues in the work that Jesus calls us to do as his followers.’
Running the race
Tina is realistic about the challenges that she will face. For example, getting to grips with the size of OMF and how to ‘come alongside our colleagues and encourage them when their ministry contexts are different from my own.’
Tina adds, ‘Another challenge is to understand and learn from what has been done in this role before me. I am a different person and hope I will bring in different experiences and perspectives. I greatly appreciate the direction that Andy Smith has set for our organization in this role. I have learned and will continue to learn so much from him. I look forward to running the next leg of the race for the evangelization of East Asia’s peoples.’
Andy and Tina were speaking to Reuben Grace, OMF International Stories Coordinator.
- Pray I can rest and reconnect well on home assignment in 2024, after what will have been a challenging 4-year-and-7-month term.
- Pray that God would be preparing the people who will work with me on these tasks next term.
- Pray that I would be faithful, holy, steadfast and humble in the ways that I serve him
- Pray for discernment and wisdom as I juggle with family, local ministry, and the International Coordinator role. Pray that I will keep the main thing the main thing and have a clear vision of what I am doing and do it with passion and conviction. Pray that God will equip me to be wise, loving, encouraging, strategic and focused.
- Pray for my family. We have three boys – please pray that we will be faithful and godly parents to them.
- As OMF founder Hudson Taylor often requested of his prayer supporters, pray that we would be holy and useful to the Lord in all that we do.