A heritage of partnering
together in prayer.
While Britain celebrated its spiritual revival in the nineteenth century, James Hudson Taylor grieved over the lost in China—millions perishing without knowledge of the gospel. The large task of China’s evangelization would require committed prayer. As Taylor walked along Brighton Beach on June 25, 1865, he sought God for the provision of 24 skillful, willing workers to reach the inland provinces.
God provided the workers and prayer continued to undergird the mission. In 1865, after the official formation of the China Inland Mission (CIM), Taylor wrote and had illustrated the booklet China’s Spiritual Need and Claims, an eye-opening account of China’s spiritual poverty. Thousands of Christians responded with sympathy, prayer and a burning desire to help the work. From 1875 to 1950, China’s Millions became the monthly resource for field stories and calls to prayer.
Taylor insisted that nothing would be accomplished without the Holy Spirit’s power, blessing and provision. Funds need not be solicited. If the needs were clear and the Lord was sought, the CIM would have its provisions. The missions world was struck with Taylor’s daring dependence on faith, but no other means could further the work.
Within the mission, workers committed to daily intercession at noon, weekly prayer gatherings and special days for prayer and fasting.
More than a century later, as CIM became Overseas Missionary Fellowship and later OMF International, prayer continued to fuel the mission. Here in the United States this was evident as prayer groups formed in many locations. Fellowship, worship and concentrated prayer for missionaries, people groups and regions characterized prayer gatherings. For the past 10 years, regional staff, volunteers and partners have gathered at Heart for Asia events and prayer retreats to lift up East Asia’s unreached.
At the OMF International (U.S.) headquarters, prayer still constitutes one of our six main organizational values and infuses U.S. operations. Staff members gather daily for office-wide prayer times over home side and field needs. New initiatives and large organizational decisions call for additional intercession, and biannual half days of prayer are built into the yearly schedule.
OMF International’s U.S. communication pieces are still formed and distributed in the tradition of Taylor’s long-running China’s Millions magazine. Prayer is mobilized among our U.S. partners, donors and newsletter subscribers through e-newsletters, prayer guides, donor letters and social media posts that highlight the needs of East Asia’s peoples and call God’s church to intercede for their salvation.
“Move man through God by prayer alone,” Hudson Taylor said. Through days of political and spiritual turmoil, organizational change and leadership transitions, the CIM’s focus on prayer has remained. Taylor’s legacy continues through OMF International today. We continue seeking God as we mobilize the American church, and pray for our future as we reflect on our past.