A Mission Organization in a Changing World

A lot has changed since Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in 1865. Several month-long boat journeys are now fourteen-hour plane flights. Handwritten letters that wait months for a reply have become a Skype or FaceTime call with live video.

Not only do we have instant communication, but we can use a handheld device that fits into our pocket to have access to it. This even allows us to serve in virtual teams where people in seven countries can collaborate together. So much has changed. How do we respond in light of these changes?

3 Minute Read

By James & Lisa Dougherty

Some things have not changed. OMF as a mission organization has always been praying and working to:

  • See people transformed by the gospel
  • Facilitate believers to grow deeper in their faith in community with others
  • Form church movements to spread rapidly
  • See believers generously reach out to other peoples

Our heart and focus stay the same, but in a changing world we constantly have to innovate.

As we explore new ways to engage in missions we focus on three things: prayer, building relationships, and talking about Jesus with those who haven’t heard.

First, Prayer

When we see God lead our focus to a new people group that hasn’t heard the good news about Jesus, we start with prayer.

OMF has a long history with prayer groups as a key way to see spiritual breakthrough. J.O. Frasier’s mother created a group in England to pray for the Lisu people as her son shared the good news with them.

Today, in addition to focused prayer groups, we are able to send short-term teams to pray for the people as they travel among them. This is often a key part of starting a new ministry.

As we pray, we look for opportunities to share life with the people we are praying for. We sometimes call this the “Engage” stage of our mission organization.

Building Relationships as a Mission Organization

Early OMF missionaries lived among the people they went to serve, building relationships through medical work and other ministries.

Today, we are open to exploring creative new ways to help build relationships with people. Some of the ways we’ve seen this happen includes running a coffee shop in Taiwan, teaching agriculture in the Philippines, and playing ultimate Frisbee in Japan.

All of these activities give us an accepted and understood place in the community, even as foreigners. They also help us share life with the people we came to serve and build trust with them.

Engaging with East Asians Globally

When the China Inland Mission began its work in China, most Chinese were living in the country. Today, we find East Asians all over the world. We’re not just serving in East Asia, but also among East Asia’s Diaspora in Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. This is teaching us to partner in different ways as a mission organization with the church all over the world.

As the Asian church and mission movements have grown, OMF’s role shifts too. Sometimes the best way to support the church movement is to make sure we get out of the way so the vision and local leaders can move things forward.

At other times we can support a key new initiative from behind the scenes. As the Asian church has grown active in sending out missionaries to other parts of Asia and around the world, some of these missionaries are a significant part of today’s OMF global team.

As we continue to explore and innovate new ways to reach East Asians, what opportunities do you see on the horizon? Where could God be taking us next?

If you are interested in joining with us please check out our opportunities page.

james and lisa doughertyAuthor Bio:

We are both third culture kids with a foot in both North America and Asia. James is an aircraft mechanic and Lisa is a teacher, but we didn’t last too long in either of those jobs. Since 2006, we have spent most of our time in Asia serving together with the Asian church. We’re now in Denver serving as President and Co-National Directors for OMF (U.S.)