A Reflection on One Mission Society’s 2016 International Conference
To the unfocused eye, the lights above the auditorium were just flashes of bright yellow against a backdrop of black. But after a few moments, if you let your vision adjust, those lights transformed. Hundreds of single bulbs hung on individual cords, dangling above the heads of the conference members, almost as if they were stars.
Attendees sat in their seats or stood, necks craned and cameras out, as rows of people marching with flags descended down the aisles of the auditorium. More than 30 flags, carried by residents of that country, rippled onto the stage. All the while, a song boomed throughout the auditorium:
“God is on the move, on the move, hallelujah….”
The flag presentation was the opening ceremony to One Mission Society’s (OMS) biennial international conference, Illuminate. Reflected by the conference’s title, this weekend brought hundreds of missionaries, families, and guests from around the world to gather in community and dive into the concept of being a light for Christ in a dark world.
More than 500 people arrived for Illuminate, held on Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus. Each day was packed with programs that centered on that central theme of being a light and illuminating the darkness. Attendees had the opportunity to pray in community for different nations and people groups, participate in break-out sessions, worship with the Hunter Smith Band, listen to four keynote speakers, and enjoy a variety of extra activities.
One of the highlights of the conference was the Illuminate Experience Room, an interactive area where attendees could mingle and do hands-on activities that pulled together the theme of being a light for Christ. Some stood in line to take pictures at the photo booth. Others explored the Illuminate Experience maze, which took people through an almost pitch-black course, lit intermittently by small, orange lights.
Across the weekend, Illuminate also highlighted two OMS ministries that people could donate toward: Bibles for Cuba, a ministry that worked to deliver more Bibles to the Cuban believers, and Bridge to Reading, an international literacy program that tutors students and also brings the Gospel message. Each day, OMS took donations to help fund these programs, and there was even a 5K run for Bridge to Reading that raised awareness and support for the ministry.
Illuminate was also the official launch of OMS’ One Billion-One Opportunity Vision. President Bob Fetherlin presented more about this vision in the opening and closing of the conference. Parallel to OMS’ desire to be a light in a dark world and to reach more people for Christ, Bob shared the vision of giving one billion people one opportunity to hear, understand, and accept the Gospel message over a 10-year period. This calling is disproportionate to OMS, Bob added, but not disproportionate to who God is.
Therefore, part of the plan to step up to the challenge of the One Billion-One Opportunity Vision is to come before God in deep prayer, create partnerships with other organizations, and not only send out OMS missionaries but also people from OMS mission fields themselves. Ultimately, this vision is not a springboard for OMS as an organization, but a step in obedience to follow God’s will in bringing people of all nations to him.
It was only fitting to conclude the weekend, a weekend dedicated to illuminating the darkness, with a commissioning of new OMS missionaries. Under the dangling, star-like auditorium lights, people gathered in clusters around each missionary individual or family. They bowed their heads and reached out to lay hands on those who were being sent out. The new missionaries, covered in the hands of the OMS family, were the first to be commissioned under the new One Billion-One Opportunity Vision, but they are certainly not the last.
With the launch of the One Billion-One Opportunity Vision and the commissioning of the new missionaries, the Illuminate attendees dispersed back across the world on Sunday. The opening ceremony flags were rolled up and stored on a truck. As a final note, a torrent of rain and thunder barreled down once staff and volunteers threw the last of the supplies onto the loading truck. But the spirit of the weekend, the excitement of the new vision, and the mission to be lights in a dark world couldn’t be snuffed out.
To see more highlights of Illuminate, visit http://www.onemissionsociety.org
By Jess Mitchell, summer communications intern