Overseas Missionary Fellowship opens its door to Asians!!!

The 1965 Centennial Anniversary of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly China Inland Mission founded by Hudson Taylor in 1865) marked the end of the Fellowship as a purely Caucasian or Western missionary society.

In 1964, the OMF leadership met in Singapore to discuss vital matters regarding future operations in relation to Asian churches’ missionary endeavor. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it was unanimously felt that the time had come for OMF to open its doors and accept all nationalities to join its ranks.

There was thus the need for several Asian countries to establish centers for the recruitment, screening, sending forth, and supporting of local missionaries to other countries in Southeast Asia. In 1965, Asian Home Councils were established in Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Hong Kong. The Philippines welcomed this development and immediately responded to the challenge. Invitations for prospective council members were sent out in November 1965 and the council had their first meeting on February 8, 1966 with Mr. Norman McIntosh as interim chairman.


The Beginnings

The Philippine Home Council was formally organized and came into being on February 8, 1966. It was born to recruit, screen, send forth, and support Filipino missionaries in East Asia. In June 1966, Rev. Max Atienza was elected as the first Filipino Chairman.

One of the first tasks of the Council was to screen three enthusiastic applicants – William and Eden Layda, and Dr. Linda Dumlao. All three were accepted into OMF membership in March 1966 as first Filipino missionaries. Not long after, they were on the boat sailing to Singapore for OMF orientation. The Laydas began their missionary work in Petra Christian School in Surabaya, Indonesia in September 1968 after a year in Malaysia. Dr. Dumlao proceeded to South Thailand to work at the Saiburi Christian Hospital.

Many other applicants subsequently followed. PHC took the lead to look after the spiritual, pastoral, and financial support of the PHC Filipino missionaries while at the same time partnering with their home churches. Through the years the partnership with like-minded Christians and churches blossomed. The first financial support of P40 was given during a missions meeting in a church in June 1966. Giving has steadily increased after. From 8 in 1967, the number of donors increased to 44 churches/groups and 63 individuals in 1988.
Indeed the Lord is faithful! He is Jehovah Jireh!

The PHC-OMF was incorporated in 1970 and continued to be blessed with men and women who were busy in their own areas of work and ministry and yet gave priority to the important task of sending forth and supporting qualified Filipinos to the harvest field. The involvement of some Council members in ministries in Visayas and Mindanao generated interest as well as prayer and financial support. In 1976, PHC appointed Messrs. Ephraim Orteza, Ramon Cenit, and Ben de Jesus as Council representatives for Bacolod, Cebu, and Mindanao, respectively.

In its tenth year, the ministry of PHC had notably increased that a full-time staff was felt necessary. Thus in 1976, William Layda served as Executive Secretary of PHC. He vigorously promoted missions, recruited missionaries, established and strengthened relationships with supporting churches and individuals. Together with his wife Eden, who was then PHC administrator, they served until 1984.

The Expansion
1982 was a year of expansion. Two regional committees were formed in Cebu and Davao. By this time, there were about 30 cell groups who regularly and specifically met to pray for PHC-OMF missionaries and ministries. That year there were 14 missionaries in active service and a small office with a full-time office secretary was created.

The New Development for Growth
The idea of PHC starting a Home Missions Ministry came in January 1990. The PHC Chairman decided that since OMF has an official link with church associations of OMF -planted churches, they ought to facilitate Filipinos going into cross-cultural ministry in the Philippines. But this matter neither made it to the PHC agenda nor got a response from the church association of OMF -planted churches.In 1993 OMF International officially recognized Home Missions Ministry in multi-cultural countries in Asia. A year later the Philippine Missions Association (PMA) entered into an agreement with OMF-PH to deploy Filipino missionaries to Kalagan in Southern Philippines.

It was in January 1997 that the PHC Board of Trustees agreed in principle that PHC would venture into home cross-cultural ministry reaching out to the Philippines’ Unreached Peoples Groups or UPGs, calling this program as SERVE Philippines. In June that same year, PMA ended deployment function and handed over their missionaries to SERVE Philippines. Herbert and Amelia Ale were the first SERVE Philippines missionaries. A SERVE Philippines Management Committee was created in July 1998 as an advisory body to the PHC General Secretary.

SERVE Philippines Philosophy

• To glorify God through the urgent evangelization of the Philippines’ Unreached People Groups (UPGs).
• To deploy Filipinos to reach other ethnic Filipino Groups in culturally sensitive and acceptable ways.
• To partner with OMF expatriate missionaries for mutual encouragement and continuity maintaining the OMF distinctive ethos
• To partner with other Christians to reach the Unreached Peoples
• To pioneer work among Philippines’ Unreached Peoples
• To mobilize Christians and Local Churches in the Philippines to adopt Philippines Unreached Peoples and support missionaries working in those areas

Today PHC continues to promote every Filipino Christian’s participation in world  missions and recruit workers to the harvest fields of East Asia. From 1967 to 2014, PHC had sent 36 missionaries to different countries in East Asia. From 1997 to the present, SERVE Philippines have a total of 40 missionaries. Several of the 76 moved on to different ministries and organizations.

Today PHC have a total of 30 missionaries in active service, both overseas and locally.

A team of six volunteers and two paid staff comprises its mobilization team.

OMF PHC has a long way to go. God’s faithfulness in the past gives us courage to move on and trust Him for what’s ahead until he comes.

Through the years, we have seen the Lord’s blessings upon PHC. Thus with gladness and full conviction, we continue to sing the hymn that OMF International cherishes as its anthem:

How good is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend!
His love is as great as His power,
And knows neither measure nor end!

‘Tis jesus the first and the Last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe Home;
We’ll praise Him for all that is past,
And trust Him for all that’s to come.

31 July 2015

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