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ព័ត៌មាននិងរឿងផ្សេងៗ

Meet OMF’s new General Director: an interview with Joseph Chang

Dr Joseph Chang took over from Patrick Fung as OMF International’s 11th General Director at a special ceremony in Thailand in November 2023.

We find out more about his story and vision for the future of OMF heading into its 160th anniversary in 2025.

Joseph and his wife Lori with former General Director Dr Patrick Fung at the handover event in November 2023.

Joseph grew up in a Christian family in Taiwan, where he trained as a medical doctor, but I was keen to find out about his personal faith journey.

‘I could see the dark side of the church a lot’ growing up, Joseph tells me. He felt that their failure to live up to what Christians preached invalidated their message. As a teenager, he sat on the front row in Sunday services seeking errors in the preaching and questioning the speaker afterwards.

Joseph was keen to study and looked deeply into Christianity and into science. It was a long process, but one that led Joseph to give Christianity a go ‘to see whether it’s true’. He became more and more convinced by the claims of Jesus, not just as his saviour, but the Lord of his whole life.

By now, Joseph was at medical school, so an unusual way to express that commitment came to mind. He had just been studying anatomy, so named as many body parts as he could and prayed: ‘If all these things are created by you, let me commit it to you, or return it to you, and for the purpose that you made it for.’

Called together

Joseph began to explore how the Lord might use him in the future.

It was around this time that Joseph met Lori through church and found they shared a calling to mission. Both had been deeply influenced by OMF (UK) workers serving in Taiwan: Mary Thurlow and Martin & Angela Symonds. ‘We saw the life they lived and also the values they hold so dearly’, Joseph says. ‘On the one side, we want to know the secret of that kind of joy and life. And on the other side, it also gives us the window to see the needs of other places.’

Joseph and Lori’s relationship grew into marriage, and they wondered, “How can we also be a blessing to bring the good news of Jesus to those yet to hear it?”

In all its fullness

Joseph’s medical background meant they were keen to serve the whole person in Jesus’ name. As OMF International’s vision statement is to ‘share the good news of Jesus Christ in all its fullness with East Asia’s people’, I ask Joseph about why he is passionate about this.

‘As a doctor it’s very natural for us to try to heal people’s bodies physically, but is that all? Or is it just a tool for us to reach the deeper needs of a person? Or is it something we cannot separate, which means it’s not which one comes first or which one is more important than others? But actually, the whole salvation and the whole gospel is about the whole person.’

‘the whole salvation and the whole gospel is about the whole person’

‘The gospel in all its fullness means that when you do the good work, you need to be always prepared and ready to share the reason behind it. When we share the message, we also need to demonstrate it … You live out the life you preach, and you also preach the life you live. If you are lacking either one that’s not complete, that’s not a whole gospel either.’

Five key priorities

An emphasis on the Christian life is the first of Joseph’s five priorities for OMF moving forward:

1. Go deeper: Strengthening the spiritual foundation

Joseph is grateful for the foundations laid by previous leaders of the China Inland Mission and OMF, but highlights the need to continue building ‘a firm and strong spiritual foundation by living personal lives of holiness.’
‘This should be the foundation for all the missionaries in OMF’, Joseph affirms. It also forms the basis for putting disciple-making at the core of all levels of OMF ministry.

2. Go further: Filling strategic needs

We need to ‘be able to listen to God, to carefully discern his will and listen to people attentively.’ This will lead OMF to new opportunities in a fast changing world, though ‘we also need to consider whether there are some ministries we need to stop doing’ so OMF can respond and proactively lead in God’s mission. At the same time, we should integrate the resources to support our people who are in strategic places with scarce resources.

3. Go faster: Catalysing gospel movements

OMF has done a lot in catalysing the mission movement to East Asia in the past, Joseph notes, but now has the privilege of participating in ‘the mission movement from East Asian people too.’

Traditional distinctions between ‘home’ centres that send workers and ‘field’ centres that receive workers are disappearing. OMF centres around the world need to work together more closely to serve East Asian people in transition, and especially, Joseph notes, the second generation of people in transition who need ‘special attention’ and support.

4. Go smarter: Developing innovative partnerships

Joseph shares about the need to develop genuine partnerships that help extend God’s kingdom, for example in areas such as missional business, marketplace ministry and online evangelism.

5. Go together: As the Body of Christ

God is raising up a mission movement from East Asia, among the people OMF has traditionally served. ‘Are we ready to embrace them?’ is Joseph’s question.

Joseph remarks that some say OMF is a Westernized organisation, while others have asked him if he would like OMF to become more Asian.

‘I would say “no”, that’s equally wrong’, Joseph says, ‘this should not be Asian or Western.’ Difference is meant to ‘bring us together, to be united together to form one body of Christ.’ Welcoming churches from across the globe, OMF should not become ‘an Asian mission organisation.’ But Joseph aims to ‘make it an interculturally friendly organisation.’ ‘Cross-cultural communication is not a tool.’ As an organisation ‘we are the testimony of the body of Christ for people to see… for us to speak, but also for us to listen, for us to give and also for us to receive.’

Difference is meant to ‘bring us together, to be united together to form one body of Christ.’

Opportunities and challenges

When I ask Joseph what he is excited about and what challenges he expects in the next few years, I get a surprising answer:

‘I am scared by the uncertain future, but I am also excited about the uncertain future.’

He explains this is for two reasons. First, he is not alone: the new International Leadership Team and the International Council are standing together with him. Second, because he cannot rely on his past experience or plans, but must truly ‘come before the Lord to seek him and discern his will because I have nothing else to rely on. And that is beautiful.’ Amen.

Please join us in prayer for Joseph, Lori and OMF for:

  • Joseph & Lori and all OMF workers to live out a holy life before the Lord
  • The ability to listen carefully to the Lord and respond obediently
  • The ability to listen carefully to people
  • For boldness to make necessary changes

This article first appeared in OMF (UK)’s Billions magazine May-August 2024.

Written by Reuben Grace

Reuben is OMF (UK)'s Content and Books Coordinator. He is also the author of 'A Taste of Asia: 21 devotional adventures for the family' (10ofthose, 2020).

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