Step by Step

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Article featured in 2014 East Asia Insight Q2

A story of how funding Vital Support Ministries supports mobilization efforts, one heart at a time.

The path to mobilizing a new missionary rarely follows a short or straight line. Finding, mentoring, journeying with and preparing potential workers to make an eternal impact take time, effort and money. Funds given to OMF International’s Vital Support Ministries (VSM) enable our U.S-based mobilizers to advocate for East Asia’s peoples. Below is a story of how one couple was mobilized because of funds given to VSM.

The praise music in the convention hall was loud, but it did not drown out the quiet voice that kept repeating itself in George’s head. The morning’s speaker at the weekend missions conference had been a soft-spoken, sincere man of God. After 12 years in China, the man had seen a lot. He told compelling stories of poverty and hardships that he had experienced and witnessed. He also told stories of hope and healing that happened when people heard about the love of Jesus for the first time.

As the quiet thought surfaced again, it startled George. “There is no reason you couldn’t go,” it said. “Go to East Asia? No way,” George argued under his breath. “I’ve never even been to the East Coast.”

After the closing prayer, George wandered around the exhibit hall. He walked past displays for mission opportunities all over the world and overheard snippets of conversations about people groups he never knew existed. As he neared the booth for OMF International, a looping video caught his eye. It featured a missionary couple sitting on a rocky hillside on a bright, windy day. They were teaching a group of children to read as a means to help them improve their lives. He grabbed a brochure and promised himself to think more about it on the plane ride home.

A few weeks later, George dialed the number on the back of the OMF International brochure, just to ask a few questions. The Ministry Coach who answered the phone not only addressed his questions, but also shared her personal story of church planting in Taiwan. Talking about life as a missionary in East Asia with someone who had actually been there was refreshing, and George suddenly felt at peace. He learned that his next step would be to enter the organization’s Equipping process, during which time he could meet with a Ministry Coach as he sought God’s calling and began exploring the various opportunities available.

But first he needed to talk with Lily. Perhaps scarier than picking up the phone that first time was the idea of telling his wife what had been on his heart. George and Lily had only been married a few years, and they shared big dreams for their young family. When George walked into their apartment that evening, he carried a pink pie box tied with a ribbon. She greeted him with a smile and a kiss.

“What’s in the box?” Lily asked, trying to peek under the lid.

“Cherry pie,” George answered nervously. “Your favorite.”

“I can’t wait until dessert,” Lily said as they sat down. “What’s on your mind?”

As George explained how he thought God might be calling him to serve as a missionary, tears flowed down Lily’s cheeks. George thought she was upset by the news, but now he was the one to be surprised.

“I have been thinking the same thing for months,” Lily said. “I was praying that God would show me how I could serve him more, even if my husband wasn’t called to do the same thing. He has answered that prayer so clearly!”

George and Lily soon started talking weekly with an OMF International Ministry Coach who helped them as they contemplated their future. They prayerfully considered whether to become volunteers based in the U.S., start a prayer group with friends from their church, pledge money to support a missionary or become missionaries themselves. Ultimately, they decided to use their vacation days to go on a short-term trip to China. They were able to explore the culture, learn some Mandarin and witness with their own eyes the need for the good news of Jesus among the people there.

When they returned home, they were more excited than ever about opportunities to serve the Lord. They eventually decided to apply to go to East Asia as Associates for two years, perhaps in preparation for a longer-term commitment in the future. As they shared their story with potential supporters and walked through the application process with members of the Candidate Department, their calling was confirmed at each step. God took care of so many details, plus they already had what they needed to serve the people of East Asia: willing hearts.

The Vital Support Ministries (VSM) fund filled an integral role in each step of George and Lily’s process of going to East Asia. The video that caught George’s eye, the brochure he picked up, the resources provided by the Ministry Coach, their Serve Asia short-term missions experience and resources through the Candidate Department were all funded in part or in whole by the VSM fund.

George and Lily’s process also highlights many different ways to be involved with what God is doing in East Asia, no matter where you are.

Is God calling you deeper into what he’s doing among East Asians?

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