Country

  • 03 Jan
    Meet our Media Intern

    Meet our Media Intern

    Stephen joined us in September 2018 to do one of the OMF Internships, specifically the Media Internship. Here’s a little bit about him and why he joined us…


    Tell us about your background
    I was born in Chengdu, China, and have spent 14 years of my life there as a Third Culture Kid (TCK). I moved back to the UK in April to Bournemouth until moving over here to Kent in September. I’ve just finished secondary school this summer and I have a Foundation Diploma in Art, Design, and Media.

    What hobbies do you have?
    My biggest hobby right now is by far photography. It’s just about all I ever do in my free time. I have started taking an interest in filmmaking and it is something I am hoping to pursue more in the future. I’m also a big football fan and enjoy both watching and playing football. I enjoy playing in defence and my favourite football club is Southampton FC.

    Why did you apply for the Media Internship?
    I wanted to apply for a media internship because I hope to gain valuable work experience in media production and learn to work as part of a team before I go to university.

    What are you hoping to get out of this year?
    As well as gaining valuable work experience, I hope to broaden my skills in branches of media that I am not very familiar with, such as design and illustration. I hope that my experiences and familiarity with China and East Asia will be beneficial to the work I will be doing at OMF. As a young maturing Christian, I also want to work in an environment that can help strengthen my faith in Christ.

    What do you hope to do in the future?
    As for the future, I know that I want to do something behind a camera lens! What exactly that is, I’m not sure yet, but I know that ultimately I want to use it to serve God. I will most likely be going to Bournemouth University in September 2019 to study Film for three or four years, and then after that on to wherever God takes me on from there!


    If you are interested in the OMF Internships (or know of anyone who might be) then check out/pass on the Internship page for more information.

  • 05 Oct
    Indonesia – Tsunami

    Indonesia – Tsunami

    The extent of the damage has shocked and confused people in Indonesia and even perplexed the earthquake experts. Land cracked, shores washed away, mud protruded from the earth burying an entire village. There was no food, no clean water, no electricity, limited supply gasoline, scarce medicines with just an open-air hospital. People searched for family members and yet dead bodies needed to be buried. With earthquakes happening almost every day, there is an anticipation of even more significant earthquakes in the months ahead. Local Christians are seeking to understand God’s calling for such a time as this.

    Please continue to uphold the nation of Indonesia in prayer particularly the tsunami-affected area. Pray for brothers and sisters in Indonesia that they may respond promptly and appropriately in love and care at this time.

    By chriswatts Indonesia News
  • 27 Sep
    Ep2: Japan, Breaks from Social Media and Blogging

    Ep2: Japan, Breaks from Social Media and Blogging

    We are joined on the show by Levi – a frisbee-throwing, martial-arts enthusiast from the UK who has found himself being a full-time missionary in Japan. In the show we talk about what it’s like to be a missionary in Japan, the importance of rhythmic breaks from social media, how blogging has helped him process his cross-cultural experiences and more. You can find Levi’s great blog here: Grit Grace Ginger Gaijin
    By Ryan Hunt Japan Podcast
  • 27 Sep
    Ep1 : Radio Waves, Cambodian Villages and The Gospel

    Ep1 : Radio Waves, Cambodian Villages and The Gospel

    Joelle is from the UK, and now lives among rural villages in Cambodia. She’s involved in a radio show that has reached villages with the good news of Jesus. We discuss how in her area, missionaries are the ones helping to preserve Cambodian traditions, the importance of sharing the gospel in a way that connects with the audience, and how Joelle’s understanding of Scripture has improved by living in rural Cambodia.

    By Ryan Hunt Cambodia Podcast
  • 19 Jan
    Grandma Lien: a story of hope

    Grandma Lien: a story of hope

    Grandma Lien, who lives opposite the OMF-run Hope Centre in Wanhua, Taipei, was baptised there recently. It was a significant step in demonstrating her commitment to following Jesus, but there were many steps that led to her decision.

    Sleepless nights

    Grandma Lien first came to the Hope Centre in May 2016 desperate to find someone who could help her two year-old granddaughter. The child had been sleeping badly. It wasn’t just because of the noise from the processions and fireworks in the streets for the goddess Matzu at that time of year either. The girl seemed especially sensitive to spiritual things. Most nights she would wake after bad dreams, screaming. Or, sometimes, when no one was around, she would shout ‘go away!’, sensing a spirit was there.

    A missionary at the Hope Centre prayed for the girl. Wonderfully, the child went off, lay down and slept soundly in the Centre, despite the noise of children playing in the background! Her sleep improved in general and her unusual sensitivity to spiritual things reduced.

    Grandma Lien kept coming to the Hope Centre. Her testimony was that ‘Jesus helped my girl to sleep’ but it wasn’t clear what that meant to her personally. Sometimes, Margret, an OMF worker on the Hope Centre team explains, she would say things that made it sound like she believed. But then other comments suggested she didn’t.

    A big step

    A significant milestone came a year later on Tomb Sweeping Day, a major occasion for offering incense to the dead. Grandma Lien told her family: ‘I don’t take incense sticks anymore, I believe in Jesus.’ She’d never said those last three words to the team at the Hope Centre before.

    The team kept praying for Grandma Lien. She still had a god shelf for her idols in her house, though she was no longer using it.  One day she declared: ‘I want to get rid of the god shelf.’

    Margret shared that before they could clean her house, she would need a ‘house cleaning in her heart’. Was she willing to confess her sins and turn away from the gods she had worshipped in her past?

    Grandma Lien said she would turn from those gods and that she was still willing to remove the shelf. The Hope Centre team asked a local pastor to help them take the shelf down. The next step would be baptism. The team asked if she wanted to be baptised. Grandma Lien said she didn’t see that she needed to.

    ‘Jesus knows you completely already’

    Baptism is the real step of commitment for Christians in Taiwan. If you ask Taiwanese Christians when they decided to follow Jesus, they will often give their baptism date. The step can’t be rushed. People have to come to their own decision.

    The next Sunday, Grandma Lien came to the Hope Centre and smilingly told the team she’d been baptised as she had taken the god shelf down. Margret explained that baptism was another step. Margret used the illustration of marriage: ‘when you were young and fell in love with your husband, you dated for a while but one day, you had to make a decision to marry him and make it official in front of everyone.’ Baptism, Marget explained, was like that, saying publically that you were now going to follow Jesus all of your life.

    Grandma Lien decided she wanted to do that. She shared her official name with the team.  This was a big step. Before she had given them a different name. In temples in Taiwan, people will often use a made-up name because they believe they can ‘cheat’ the gods. It is thought the gods don’t know who is making an offering to them unless they are told. So people have to introduce themselves to the gods, much like you might introduce yourself to someone when you meet for the first time. So when Grandma Lien prayed to Jesus, she began by introducing herself, telling him her real name, address and so on. It showed she was serious, she was being honest with Jesus about who she really was, but Margret stopped her. Marget needed to explain that Grandma Lien didn’t have to introduce herself to Jesus; he knew her completely already.

    ‘I belong to Jesus now’

    A few weeks later, Grandma Lien was baptised at a simple service in the Hope Centre. She had committed to following Jesus. A few weeks later at the Matzu temple outings, where people take their gods from their god shelves to the temple, Grandma Lien was invited to join them, as she had done for years previously. This time, Grandma Lien declared ‘I’m not going – I belong to Jesus now.’ Confessing Jesus like this is a major step.

    A month later, Grandma Lien came to the Hope Centre with the news that her house, which she had always thought was hers, actually belonged to a distant relative who wanted to sell up. She would have to move out by October. It was an attack from the devil, as if to say, ‘this is what happens if you leave the temple.’ But Grandma Lien has persisted in following Jesus, saying ‘no one can take Jesus away from me.’

    What of Grandma Lien’s family? The granddaughter feels the difference in her grandmother but the girl’s family remain committed to traditional Taiwanese religion. The mother is open to the gospel, but while the father does not mind her ‘believing in Jesus’, if she takes the decisive step of baptism, he says he will divorce her.

    Will you pray for the people of Taiwan?

    Please pray for those who have made various levels of commitment to following Jesus to take the step of baptism, declaring publicly their commitment to following him wholeheartedly.

    What now?

    1. Find out more about OMF’s work in Taiwan.
    2. Take a look at our resources to help you pray for Taiwan.
    3. Browse our current opportunities to serve in Taiwan.
  • 12 Jan
    Christmas is Over: Long Live the Christ!

    Christmas is Over: Long Live the Christ!

    Our guest blogger and OMF missionary in Japan, Levi Booth, explores the importance of post-Christmas evangelism:

    I’m guessing the Christmas season is over in the UK? I mean technically your tree and decorations should all be down by now, right?

    In Japan Christmas is definitely over. It’s a distant memory in fact. For the first half of December shops everywhere had decorations up and Christmas songs playing, but once we hit the 26th that all changed. Overnight the music changed. We were into full-on New Years mode. People were off traveling to visit family, enjoying drinking parties, and hunting for bargains in the sales.

    And then today (January 8th) it’s ‘coming of age day’ so my instagram and facebook feeds are overrun with photos of twenty-year-olds in kimonos and suits (boys generally leave the traditional Japanese dress to the girls). And from tomorrow it’ll be back to normal school term and working life.

    Christmas in Japan is undoubtedly the easiest time to invite people to church. We were even allowed to advertise for our Christmas party at the local community center, despite their usual restrictions on religious events, and we had over forty people come and hear about the birth of Christ. All over Japan the Christmas season creates amazing opportunities for Christians to share the good news.

    But now the Christmas season is well and truly over. So what now?

    We rejoice in the good news of Christmas, that’s what.

    The news that the Christ has been born. The King has come. God came to earth. And he didn’t remain a baby. Christmas was only for a season. It was only always for a season. If Jesus had remained an infant – silently sleeping in a horse trough – their would be no hope for Japan. None for you or me either, for that matter. He outgrew the stable (or guestroom, whichever it was). He outgrew Bethlehem. He outgrew Nazareth. He lived the perfect life, he died the perfect sacrifice, he was risen and now he reigns as  the perfect high priest, and the perfect king.

    For sure Christmas creates great opportunities to introduce people in Japan to Jesus. But our hope as Christians is not in the season of Christmas but in the Spirit of Christ – in us, empowering us, guiding us to make disciples of Jesus whatever songs play in shops or movies play on TV.

    Maybe you’re feeling the post-christmas ‘what now?’ blues. After all, Japan and the UK aren’t so different. OK, they’re crazy different. But British people can be just as apathetic about Jesus as the Japanese. So it might feel like you too have missed your chance to introduce people to Him. Maybe next Christmas, eh?

    Or how about join me in praying. Praying for ordinary Japanese Christians to have boldness to share the gospel with friends and family this new year season. Praying for missionaries to not lose heart, but to rather be filled with expectant faith for what God will do through his church in the coming months. And know that I am also praying for you to have opportunies and boldness to share about Jesus, whatever the season.

    Christmas is over: long live the Christ!

    About the author:

    Levi lives in Yokohama (a bit west of Tokyo) and works for a church there. When he’s not working there, guest blogging here or writing on his own blog, he can be found exploring Japan by foot, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or relaxing in a cafe with espresso and manga.

  • 27 Jul
    Where’s home? Missionary Identity Part 3

    Where’s home? Missionary Identity Part 3

    The third and final part of our series of posts on missionary identity by OMF worker Wendy Marshall looks at how the notion of ‘home’ becomes difficult for missionaries. If you missed the other two parts, you can find part 1 and part 2 here.

    Where’s home?

    Most people’s identity is tied up with a particular place. We often ask someone new we meet, ‘So, where are you from?’

    On Sunday I attended the memorial service for a Japanese missionary and witnessed an awkward conversation between two missionaries who’d never met before. Both Americans, but serving in two different countries.

    The Japan-based one asked, ‘Where are you from?’

    There was a pause.

    Then tentatively he offered, ‘California.’

    The hesitation was because this man had just two days earlier come to Japan for the memorial service for his former colleague. He’d come from the country in which he was serving and wondered if the question meant, ‘Where are you serving now?’

    ‘Home’ is a difficult word when you live in a different country to your passport. Though my passport is Australian, Japan is where my husband and I have brought up our children. In eighteen years of childrearing, we’ve spent only four-and-a-half of them in Australia. It’s been 17 years since we spent more than a year there. In many ways Japan is home for us. When we’re not in Japan, we miss it and the people we know here. But Australia is also home. There are people we love there, and places and things we miss, though no longer as much as we used to when we first came. So, in many ways we straddle the ocean. We’re no longer completely comfortable in either place. We’ll never be Japanese, nor will we ever be 100% at home in Australia again.

    So when someone asks us ‘Where’s home?’ It’s difficult to answer. ‘Where are you from?’ is a little easier, because I can say that I grew up in Queensland, Australia. But it doesn’t tell the full story. I went to a writer’s conference in Australia a couple of years ago and I must have struggled with the application form, because the name tag they gave me when I arrived said ‘Wendy Marshall, Brisbane (or Tokyo)’.

    It’s not just how we feel, but as OMF missionary, Karl Dalfred, points out, we’re caught between two countries because no one in either country fully comprehends us either (except those who’ve lived a similar expat lifestyle to us). That’s why missionaries love to get together—because that’s usually whefre we feel most at home, with people who understand why ‘home’ is a difficult concept for us to define.

    Next time you meet a missionary, instead of asking ‘Where are you from?’ a better question would be, ‘What have you lived?’

    How you can pray:

    • Pray missionaries will be at peace with feeling unsettled and out of place.
    • Pray for understanding from people in our ‘home’ countries.
  • 27 Jul
    Identity Crisis – Missionary Identity Part 2

    Identity Crisis – Missionary Identity Part 2

    ‘You are what do you?’ Is that true? For missionaries, it can sometimes feel that way. The second in our series of posts on missionary identity looks at how missionaries can feel defined by their role and lose perspective. But Wendy also looks at how supporters can help their missionaries in prayer. (If you missed the first post in the series, you can read it here).

    Identity crisis

    As challenging as describing my occupation as a missionary is, I sometimes wonder how well I’d adjust if I lost that label. How tied up has my identity become with my role?

    This is a common challenge for missionaries who have to leave the place they’ve been sent to serve in for one reason or another. Be it a sudden change due to illness, a much-agonised change due to conflict, or a planned change due to retirement. Former missionaries frequently go through a period of grief as they adjust to their loss of the role of ‘missionary’.

    I asked a former mission worker and pastor about her experience of role loss and she said:

    ‘I struggle with not being known by people around me. I’d been attending a church for almost a year when I first led worship, and someone said, ‘Wow, you’re a natural at this.’ I didn’t know how to explain my background of 25 years of ministry in Japan, without sounding proud.’

    It’s something we need to be careful about while we are still in that missionary role. If our identity gets bound up in this title, then we’ll have difficulty living a balanced lifestyle. We’ll try to prove our worth by our work. Simply taking a day off or a holiday will be difficult.

    The antidote to that is keeping our eyes fixed on our Lord. He gave us this role, and we’re just participating in his work. Having God firmly in the right place in our thoughts will give us a better perspective and the security we long for. It will give us the freedom to take breaks, to be misunderstood, and to be less defensive about our roles.

    How you can pray:

    • Pray that missionaries will keep their eyes fixed on their Lord and Provider.
    • Pray for people making the transition from mission work. That they will be able to grieve the loss of role and know their Lord’s provision for all they need.

    You may also like to read:

    10 reasons a missionary needs an identity rooted in Christ (A Life Overseas, an online community for missionaries).

    Wendy’s blog for insights into life in Japan as a missionary.

  • 21 Jul
    ‘I don’t want to speak English’: on display for the gospel

    ‘I don’t want to speak English’: on display for the gospel

    Celia Olson is an OMF missionary in Japan with her husband Keith.  In this post, which originally appeared on Celia and Keith’s blog in 2013, Celia reflects on the challenge of standing out so much as a foreigner. Keith and Celia have served in Japan for the last seven years. Celia uses her musical gifts in mission, playing her cello and you can find out more about that in her Q&A with OMF US.

    Cat-calling kindergarteners

    One day as I was on my way out of the house, I passed about 50 kindergarteners on the pavement. I could tell they were kindergarteners because of their red hats, marking them out as being in the same class. Before I could even smile to myself at their sweet faces and high-pitched voices, a chorus of ‘haro, haro!’ rang out. That’s the Japanese pronunciation of ‘hello.’ I was cat-called in English by 50 Japanese kindergarteners. I probably should have been happy.

    When I first arrived in Japan, I probably would have stopped to say hello. Several years in, I confess there were a number of responses that ran through my head, but none of them were ‘stop and say hello.’ I first thought about responding with a cheery ‘ohayōgozaimasu’ (good morning). Then I thought about saying (in Japanese) ‘Sorry, I don’t speak English.’ In the end, I fled on my bike without saying anything, pretending not to hear, wondering to myself, ‘What are their teachers teaching them, anyway?’

    Getting cat-called by little kids shouldn’t bother me. It bothers me that I’m bothered by it. I know I should stop and return the greeting, since that’s the polite thing to do. But are those kids calling out a greeting to everyone they meet, or just to the one person who stands out?

    No tourists here

    In Ishikari, the small city where I live, there aren’t any tourists. Any gaijin (foreigner) here will generally have a pretty good grasp of Japanese, since he or she will be here for work or study. Most of the time, people I meet speak Japanese to me without a second thought, or if they’re feeling hospitable, they might ask, ‘Is it okay if I speak Japanese?’ I’ve gotten so accustomed to speaking Japanese with strangers that it startles and even confuses me when a stranger begins a conversation in English.

    A couple of months previously while on holiday, my husband and I visited a church where a friend of ours is the pastor. Another visitor from a rural area struck up a conversation with us as we were having coffee after the service. ‘We love missionaries,’ he said. ‘They’re like kyakuyose panda’ (crowd-drawing panda—we might say ‘dancing monkey’ in English). The pastor and his wife were shocked; they assured us afterwards that they saw missionaries as colleagues working together for the sake of the gospel.

    Outstanding value

    Sometimes it seems that my greatest value to the Japanese church is that people will come to gawk at the gaijin, but introvert that I am, I struggle with standing out. I’m not some animal at the zoo. I’m a person who values close friendships and good conversation. I’m thankful for friends who patiently listen to my less than perfect Japanese and repeat what they’ve said when we don’t catch it the first time. These friends are willing to get under the surface—they can see beyond the fact that I am a gaijin and they are Japanese. The best conversations happen when we all forget what language we are speaking and just talk and laugh together like old friends. If I didn’t have great friends, I would probably spend a lot of time hiding in my house. Well, maybe not, but going out would be a lot more tiring than it is.

    Despite my limitations and frustrations, there really are some ways in which it is beneficial to be a gaijin missionary in Japan. Some people will come to church events to meet gaijin. Some of them even come back a second time. Gaijin are often perceived as friendly and open, so lonely people sometimes start conversations with me. Those who feel overburdened by the many pressures of Japanese society may come to a gaijin, who is on the outside of Japanese society, for help.

    I wish I weren’t bothered that I stand out. I’m praying that I can see my own ‘strangeness’ as an opportunity and not as a cross to be borne.

     

    Will you pray for missionaries like Celia?

    • Pray for grace and strength for missionaries as they face the challenge of standing out in another culture and being ‘on display’ for the sake of the gospel.
    • Pray for them to see the opportunities presented by their ‘strangeness’ and be able to take hold of them as God leads.
    • Praise God for how he can use the ‘strangeness’ of cross-cultural workers to draw people to himself.
    • Pray particularly for those Japanese people who feel overburdened by the pressures of life – that they might turn to workers like Celia and find true rest in Christ.
    By reubeng Article Blog post Japan
  • 13 Apr
    Easter in East Asia

    Easter in East Asia

    It’s the Easter weekend, filled with church services, hot cross buns and Easter egg hunts.

    We know what Easter looks like the UK, but what about in East Asia?

    We asked three cross-cultural workers what Easter is like where they are and how we can be praying for these places.

    Japan

    Ask the average Japanese person on the street if they have heard of Easter, ‘the resurrection festival,’ and the answer is almost sure to be ‘no’.

    So Easter is a wonderful opportunity for the church to reach out to the majority of Japanese who have no knowledge of life eternal.

    Buddhist funeral in Japan

    Buddhist funeral

    Most funerals are Buddhist and are followed by memorial services on the 7th, 49th, and 100th days after death, and then irregularly for years to come.  Relatives feel obliged to attend, although many say the prayers intoned by the priests are incomprehensible.  Everyone wears black and the atmosphere is usually thick with incense. There are many Buddhist sects but most are vague about what happens to people at death.

    Christian funeral

    Christian funeral

    So Christian memorial services are a great opportunity to share the hope of the resurrection. Every year on Easter Day, my Japanese church combines the main Easter service with a memorial for all church members who have died. Families are invited and it is exciting to have up to 20-30 non-Christians coming to church for this service. Many stay for the special lunch and sharing of memories.  Pastor Matsumoto reads two testimonies followed by a simple Easter message. He says, ‘It is important for relatives to hear the testimonies of their loved ones and to see how lovingly they are remembered by the church family.’

    Pray that many relatives will learn to say, as their loved ones did, ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ (Phil 1:21).

    Thailand

    Thai Christians blessing the elders at church.

    Thai Christians blessing the elders at church.

    Easter is sadly not celebrated at all in Thailand as it is often around the time of the Thai New Year (or Songkran) on 13-15th April.

    The whole country is on holiday at this time to visit family and bless Buddhist monks and images by pouring scented water over their hands. Thai Christians will adapt this ceremony to honour the elderly and leaders in church (see photo).

    Sadly, Songkran is also known for the high number of fatalities as thousands drink and drive, gathering to have a massive water fight and paste clay on people’s faces.

    The good news of freedom and hope through Jesus Christ who has defeated death is much needed in a culture of karmic beliefs.

    China

    Easter can pass you by in most of China. Compared to Christmas, where you can buy plastic trees and decorations in major supermarkets, Easter is not marked in any commercial sense. You can buy Kinder eggs, but then these are on the shelves all year round!

    Only Christians and foreigners seem to mark Easter at all. However, it usually coincides with a very important festival called Qing Ming Jie – or tomb-sweeping day.

    At this time of year families make their way back to their ancestral homes to sweep the tomb of their ancestors, the graves are swept and incense is burned as living family members bow down to those past and offer up prayers for them in the afterlife. Paper money is burned in the belief that burning it on earth sends it to relatives who in the afterlife still need such earthly things. Enterprising paper money sellers have learnt to move with the times and the streets are lined with them not just selling paper money, but also paper designer clothes, luxury cars and even iPhones!

    The festival presents both a deep challenge and a great opportunity in China for believers. As the festival is a public holiday, it can distract from anything happening in the surrounding weeks – everyone is busy back at work. However, churches in the area are very active in putting on both events for believers and outreach events. So even though on a commercial level, there is absolutely no indication that anyone is aware Easter exists, yet, I hope and pray that through the activity of our brothers and sisters, that many will get to hear about the real, non-commercial Easter story.

     Will you pray for them?

    Find out more: If you’d like to find out more about Qing Ming Jie, have a read of this Gospel Coalition blog post, ‘the swept tomb vs the empty tomb‘.

    What now?

    This Easter weekend, as you go to church and enjoy Easter eggs, could you take a moment to pray for our brothers and sisters in East Asia as they celebrate Jesus’ resurrection? And will you pray for the many who are yet to hear of this good news that transforms lives?

    Please pray with us:

    For Christians to have opportunities to share with friends and colleagues about the hope of Easter.

    Church services such as the memorial services in many Japanese churches and the visitors who come.

    That by God’s grace, whole societies would be transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ, who has defeated death.

    Happy Easter!

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