Like any field, the missions world has its own set of vocabulary.
“Unreached People Group,” “10-40 Window,” and many other phrases have become popular in recent years. To make things even more interesting (confusing?), different organizations also have their own unique lingo. In OMF, “Full Member,” “Associate,” “Serve Asia worker,” and other terms are used to describe different types and lengths of mission placements.
If you follow OMF’s work, pray for the ministry in Japan, or are interested in taking part in missions in some way yourself, you may have heard these terms. This month on OMF Japan’s social media, the theme is different types of short- and mid-term missions placements—in particular, Associate and Serve Asia workers. In my journey with missions in Japan, I have had experience as both, and so I want to explain and compare these two types of placement.
Serve Asia worker
(Short-term mission placement with OMF)
Length of service: 2 weeks to 1 year
Application process: Simpler than a longer-term application. Includes filling out an application, medical questionnaire, pastoral reference, and an interview with your country’s Serve Asia Coordinator.
Cost: For Japan, an average Serve Asia worker pays about 40 USD/day for their accommodation, in-country travel, food, and ministry costs. Serve Asia workers may be supported by financial partners, self-funded, or a combination of both.
Training: Serve Asia workers receive some cross-cultural training from their sending coordinator before coming to Japan, and receive orientation from an in-field coordinator once they arrive. During their placement, they are mentored by their host missionaries.
Goal: To learn about what God is doing in Japan, to serve and learn from a long-term host missionary, and to explore how God might lead you to be involved in the future (e.g. prayer, giving, sending, going).
(Mid-term mission placement with OMF)
Length of service: 1 to 3 years
Application process: Almost the same as for a long-term missionary with OMF. Includes an application form, medical and psychological assessment, and a series of interviews. You need pastoral, work, and friend references, and do a week-long Candidates Course with OMF in the sending country.
Cost: Greater than a short-term trip, as it includes insurance, retirement, and a percentage to cover administration costs. But slightly less than a long-term member of OMF. Most associates are supported financially by sending churches and ministry partners, though some may be self-funded.
Training: Associates go to the same pre-field training in their sending country as long-term members. They also attend the same international training, in Singapore, as long-term OMF missionaries.
Goal: There are two types of Associates. The first is someone who desires to meet a specific need for a limited period—for example, cover for a long-term missionary’s home assignment, manage an OMF Guest Home, or serve as administrative support. The second is someone who’s interested in serving long-term, but isn’t quite able or ready to make the full commitment. They may have medical or financial concerns, or their church may desire a test-period before sending them as a long-term missionary. This second type of Associate often spends their term exploring a variety of ministries, learning from missionaries on the field, and seeing if and where they might be a good fit.
There are many ways to be involved in OMF’s work in Japan, but would you pray for these two kinds of missionaries—short- and mid-term—as we hear their stories this month? And if you’d like to learn more about these placements, please contact your home country’s OMF office or check out the opportunities site.
By Morgan, an OMF Japan Associate
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