​Medicine for the Heart: Three Hours of Prayer at OMS

July 25 2016

I wasn’t sure what to think about a three-hour prayer rally … especially only two weeks into my internship.

Every month, One Mission Society (OMS) holds a prayer rally at the OMS World Headquarters in Indiana. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. homeland missionaries gather in the fellowship hall to pray, hear updates from various mission fields, worship in song, talk together in community, as well as participate in other activities usually centered on a specific theme for the rally.

I don’t think I’d ever prayed for an hour, let alone prayed for three. I didn’t know what to expect. Before walking into the fellowship hall, I wondered what it would feel like; would it be fast or slow, boring or engaging? I think the biggest hesitancy I had about the rally was the fact that the majority of OMS headquarters took three hours out of their work day. Would the rally feel like you were wasting precious work hours?

Of course, I didn’t want to admit my doubts about the prayer rally. So, I jumped in and hoped for the best.

We started the rally with worship songs. After that, the summer interns, as well as the newly-accepted missionaries went one-by-one to the podium to share briefly about ourselves. Then, the OMS staff prayed over us. They reached out their hands toward us at the different tables and called out words in a blessing of sorts.

I remember sitting at my table, smiling, as words like “courage,” “creativity,” “perseverance,” and “joy” were spoken over me.

We also spent a large portion of our time praying for our nation and the other nations in which OMS served. Half of the group surrounded our 30-plus flags outside and prayed specifically for each country, while the other half stayed inside to pray for the United States.

I stayed inside, but it was hard to pray for my country. Why should I pray for leaders I didn’t believe in or trust, for a nation I thought couldn’t get back up on its feet? My cynicism for my country boiled over in frustration. But when I heard others’ fervent prayers, when I saw the hope people had for our nation, I slowly rethought my initial reactions and realized how out of line I was about condemning my country in that manner. Who was I to condemn before praying for revival?

After that extended time of prayer, we also heard updates from a few OMS fields, including Haiti and the newly-completed Bon Repos project, which provided 36 homes and a church/school for an impoverished Haitian community. It was such a blessing to hear the stories and see the pictures and videos from Haiti. All of OMS was encouraged by that.

In no time at all, it was noon. I wanted more time to pray, to worship, to hear about what was happening around the world. For me, the prayer rally was challenging and peaceful. People had blessed me and had also frustrated and challenged my views and my prayer habits. I felt like God had softened my heart in those quick three hours.

I had the privilege of attending a second prayer rally before my internship ended. That time around, I was a lot more excited to go because I knew the blessings it would bring. Since my first prayer rally, I have noticed that God has changed me on the inside. I have learned more about what it means to pray without ceasing. I have learned that nothing is unworthy of prayer, whether that be the smallest detail in my life or a nation that the darkest part of my heart believes is too far gone to be revived. I have experienced the blessing it is to pray in community, as well as in private.

And most importantly, I have been able to understand and bathe in the peace and fulfillment that being in prayer brings—a peace that is full of the presence of God, a peace that whispers in your ear that ultimately being in God’s presence in prayer is enough.

But I’ve also learned that prayer is essential not just in personal lives, but also in an organization like OMS. Without prayer, OMS cannot do what it does. Because prayer is powerful. It works. It is more powerful than anything else OMS can ever do. It is our connection to God, the one for whom we do everything. So wouldn’t it make sense to dedicate a mere three hours a month to a prayer rally?

But it doesn’t have to stop there. OMS’ prayer rally is a focused outpouring in community, but I’ve noticed after working here for two months that the rally is just the tip of the iceberg. Prayer permeates everything OMS does, as it should. The day it doesn’t is the day OMS is not effective.

So, is the prayer rally a waste of precious work time? Absolutely not. Prayer comes first. Everything else is a reflection of prayer, our relationship with God, and his calling on our lives. It is the most important thing we can ever do.

By Jess Mitchell, summer Communications intern

Tags: prayer, pray, prayer rally, oms, importance of prayer,

​Bibles for Cuban Youth

July 19 2016

Cubans want Bibles to satisfy their hunger for God and for his Word. Youth especially need Bibles that they can connect with easily. Fifteen-year-old Alexis Guzmán Mouriz (pictured on right in green) never owned his own Bible. He read a copy that his grandparents owned, but he really wanted a Bible that was geared for his age.

One Mission Society’s Bibles for Cuba project provides Bibles to Cuban church leaders so that the people can have access to God’s Word and grow in a relationship with him. Bibles for Cuba not only provides Bibles, but it delivers them in a version that can meet people, like youth, where they are.

Alexis’ first Bible is special to him, especially because it is a version that is easy to read and understand for him.

“This version contains interesting ideas, stories, and notes about characters from the Bible, and it also shares about themes of interest for youth,” he said. “This Bible, for me, is the best!”

Alexis prays that God continues to bless Bibles for Cuba so that others, especially Cuban young people, can learn more about the Word of God. As they reach critical growing points in their lives, the fact that they can own their own copies of the Bible to guide their lives closer to God is an irreplaceable value.

“Know these Bibles are very important for the Christian youth of our country,” Alexis said. “Thanks to God and to you (OMS’ Bibles for Cuba), many young people can have their own Bibles, just like me.”

Please pray for Alexis, that God will speak to him and guide him through his Word, and that other young people can have their own Bibles as well. Please also continue to pray that Bibles for Cuba can provide as many Bibles as this nation needs so the hunger for the Word is satisfied.

Would you like to help people like Alexis own Bibles so they can grow in relationship with God? To learn more and give to Bibles for Cuba, visit onemissionsociety.org/give/biblesforcuba.

Tags: bibles, youth, cuba, god's word, first bible,

Steps of Faith

July 15 2016

The Fletchers’ Story

One Mission Society sends out missionaries all over the world, but what goes on behind the scenes before those missionaries hit the field?

Joshua Fletcher, with his wife Allison and three kids, have been accepted as OMS missionaries to Cuenca, Ecuador, and have been preparing for their departure through raising financial and prayer support and spreading the message of where God is calling them to serve.

Joshua felt a call to Ecuador after he had been in ministry for almost 14 years serving as a pastor, artist, and writer. His home church, where he worked, focused heavily on missions, so he had the opportunity to go on several mission trips over the years. After one particular trip, Joshua felt a stirring in his heart, and during a period at home when he came down with an illness, the Lord told him to go to Cuenca.

Allison, being a former missionary kid in Ecuador, had always wanted to return to that country. When Joshua told her about God’s calling, her dream rekindled. At that time, the Fletchers didn’t know they would serve in Ecuador with OMS. All they knew was that they said yes to God’s calling and would wait to see what God wanted them to do.

After Joshua and Allison prayed and sought God’s will, they felt him telling them to “go with your heritage.” Allison’s parents had been missionaries in Ecuador through One Mission Society; therefore, understanding that their missionary heritage is with OMS, the Fletchers applied there. Their application went through and was accepted, and they attended OMS orientation in March 2015. Throughout the whole process, they felt like this was the place God called them to be.

Taking further steps of obedience, the Fletchers began to raise prayer support and funds for their missionary journey to Ecuador, and they put their house on the market. Their home sold within three days with three investors bidding for it.

With their house sold, the Fletchers have been living at a friend’s home since May 2015. During this time of behind-the-scenes work in preparation for the mission field, the Fletchers continue to take steps of faithful obedience to God and look toward their time in Ecuador.

Joshua and Allison aim to be liaisons in Cuenca, to work alongside pastors and churches and encourage them in their spiritual journeys. Joshua will also teach and train people in theological education. He sees God moving in Ecuador through the potential relationships and continual spiritual growth between people—not just in the good situations but also in the conflicts. Joshua sees an environment where missionaries don’t necessarily lead the churches and people but come alongside them and encourage them, especially through their conflicts. Through these relationships, people from all backgrounds and cultures can be more like Jesus.

One of the ways that Joshua shares this vision during the funding process is through his art. Through his paintings that are full of blended colors and bold strokes, Joshua not only puts his heart on the canvas in worship, but he also can share spiritual truths and his family’s calling to Ecuador. He hopes to use his artistic skills while in Ecuador to minister to the people and to worship God.

The first piece that Joshua created as an act of worship, a watercolor painting titled “Helser’s Tree,” is a work that is “the fruit of an encounter with God, the meaning of which I am fleshing out every time I paint” (taken from Joshua’s booklet “Masterpieces With a Mission”).

The tree in Joshua’s painting thrives. It is full of vibrant leaves on a hill of green and brown, designed in a way that might remind someone of a stained-glass window. This painting may be finished, but it stands as a reminder that God’s work is still not yet complete. The more Joshua paints and worships, the more he grows to understand God’s will and relationship with him.

In a way, the painting parallels the Fletchers’ journey to the Ecuador mission field and the belief they hold close to their hearts: that they must take steps of faith, say yes to God out of obedience and love, and await the Lord’s mighty hand to continually work in their lives. With each brushstroke—with each step closer to the mission field—the Fletchers’ encounter with God grows and develops.

Please take a moment to pray for the Fletchers on their journey to Ecuador. Pray that they will continue to take steps of faith and that God will speak to them and guide them, in both behind-the-scenes work and on the mission field.

To learn more or to donate toward the Fletchers’ mission, visit https://onemissionsociety.org/give/TheFletchers.

By Jess Mitchell, summer communications intern

Tags: fletchers, ecuador, faith, art, paint, churches, missionary, journey, funding, cuenca,

​Five Years of Waiting

July 13 2016

Mayelis Licea, a prayer group and Bible study leader, waited five years until she received a Bible of her own. Before that, she had used her mother-in-law’s or a borrowed copy of another believer. But now, Mayelis has her own personal copy of the Word of God in a version that is more comfortable and easier to read.

The exponentially expanding Cuban church desperately needs Bibles. Without the Word of God, which is God-breathed truth and our roadmap for the Christian walk, individuals cannot progress far in their spiritual journeys. Cuban believers need guidance and truth so they can develop in their relationships with Jesus Christ.

One Mission Society’s (OMS) Bibles for Cuba project provides Bibles to the people of Cuba—people like Mayelis, who, after five years, now has her own copy of God’s Word.

Delivering Bibles may sound like a simple thing, but the impact it makes on people is eternal. For Mayelis, having a Bible is a blessing from God and also an opportunity to share the Gospel with her husband, Vladimir Herrera, who is not a Christian but is interested in learning more about the Bible.

“Now we can read it [the Bible] together,” Mayelis said. “Sometimes I ask him to read with me a passage or we comment about any particular Bible story. In that way, he is more involved and he can not only know the Word of God but also Jesus.”

Mayelis thanks God, first and foremost, for using OMS, through the Bibles for Cuba project, to deliver the Gospel to her nation so that more and more people can have their own Bibles to study with and grow in their relationships with God. Her prayer for Bibles for Cuba, she said, is that “the Lord continues blessing them in such a way that they can continue blessing Cuba.”

Please join us in praying for Cuba:

  • That God will work in Mayelis’ and Vladimir’s lives and in their marriage through the power of his holy Word.
  • That the Cuban believers will receive more Bibles so they can study God’s Word and develop in their relationships with Jesus Christ.
  • That the Bibles for Cuba project can continue to help deliver these Bibles and serve our brothers and sisters in Cuba.

Please also consider how you can give to help Bibles for Cuba bring the precious Word of God to a nation that so desperately needs it, a nation where some people, like Mayelis, must wait a long time to have a Bible of their own.

To learn more about Bibles for Cuba or to give to this project, visit https://onemissionsociety.org/give/bibles-for-cuba.

By Jess Mitchell, summer communications intern

Tags: bibles, cuba, bibles for cuba, project, prayer, reading, need, church, relationship,

Illumination

July 8 2016

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

Tags: illuminate, conference, one billion, vision, missionary, darkness, light, world, shine,

​Hunger for the Word Grows in Cuba

July 1 2016

How do believers keep the Bible as the authoritative Word of God … when they don’t have one?

With a church that is growing exponentially, Cuban believers rejoice in the spreading of the Good News. At the same time, they face the epidemic of a lack of Bibles in their country. Richard Yoder, One Mission Society (OMS) field director for Cuba, shares praises and prayer requests for this island nation of 11.5 million people.

The body of Christ in Cuba has grown steadily for the past 20 years, but in the past four years, it has grown exponentially. We thank the Lord for pouring out his Holy Spirit on the Cuban people so that their hearts and minds are open to his transforming power. Praise the Lord for impassioned Cuban believers who have gently witnessed and testified to the goodness of the Lord in their lives.

The growth of the church body has developed through the house group movement and through using existing mother churches for larger gatherings and trainings.

This growth has not come without sacrifice and a price.

Recently, a member of the OMS Theological Team, Rachel Coleman, listened and learned to fellow believers in Cuba on how to come alongside two denominational seminaries to help them meet the great educational needs of the body of Christ. “It is important that collections of house groups have a seminary-trained person among them. Strengthening the seminaries is a way to strengthen the growing church,” shared Rachel.

Observing all of this, Rachel commented, “There were many moments when I felt like I was walking through the Book of Acts on a 21st century stage.”

A critical need at this moment in Cuba is Bibles. About four years ago, while in Cuba, I met two men from two different organizations who had received the same vision from the Lord: “to get one million Bibles to the Cuban Church.”

However, the reality is that there are many more Bibles needed. At one point, there was a group of 20 pastors sharing five Bibles and another group of 11 pastors sharing only one Bible! This is not a good situation for the church. Many agencies and ministries have entered Cuba and offered the Cuban leaders money if they use their materials, wanting to be part of the great work of the Lord there. While some of these materials are good and needed, the most crucial need is for Bibles.

Thanks to the work of Men for Missions (MFM) Canada and MFM USA, Bibles are getting into the hands of Cubans, and the Lord is working to grow healthy, Christ-centered leaders.

Please pray for the Cuban church as the body of Christ grows and develops in their country, that more Bibles will be sent for the believers and pastors, and that the other needs of the church are met.

The Word of God is the basis of our faith. It is needed for healthy, rich growth in our Christian lives and our relationships with God.

Will you donate today so that more Bibles will get into the hands of the Cuban believers and church leaders?

For more information about Bibles for Cuba or to give to this ministry, visit https://onemissionsociety.org/give/bibles-for-cub..

Tags: cuba, bibles, hunger, church, pastors, believers, men for missions, cuban,

​A Bridge to the Bush

July 1 2016

Liberian Nationals’ Efforts to Minister to Unreached Groups

In the world’s third poorest nation, the hope of the Good News of Jesus Christ is growing rich in abundance.

Dean Davis, International Director of Every Community for Christ (ECC), shared how God is moving in Liberia, Africa, through the nationals’ efforts to spread the Gospel, make new disciples, and plant new churches through ECC’s Train & Multiply method.

In 2015, Solomon Davis, a church leader and faculty member at Monrovia Bible College in Liberia, wanted to use Train & Multiply to help churches make disciples and plant new worshiping groups. ECC invited Solomon to train in the United States in order to learn how to use this method, but he was unable to come.

Instead, Dean said, ECC developed “downloadable training,” a way to send training guides and materials so that a person experienced in evangelism and church planting can train himself or herself and in turn train others. The materials were in English with African art. English is the national language of Liberia, but it also has some 30 other spoken languages.

During the training process, Jim Hogrefe, an OMS missionary serving with ECC, worked with and coached Solomon and his friends as they learned how to use Train & Multiply. Dean said that they took the training very seriously and started to train others. Soon, they had trained more than 100 church leaders and church members on how to use T&M in multiple cities and towns in Liberia.

Among those who were trained were two pastors who spoke not only English but also Bassa, the local language. After their training, Dean said each of these pastors shared what they had learned, took their choirs and evangelism teams, and journeyed from their homes near Buchanon, Liberia, into the African bush.

The bush is typically described as a place, usually without electric power, where roads and highways don’t penetrate. Most people living there survive through hunting and gathering methods and subsistence agriculture. It was to these harsh areas, areas where Bassa is spoken, that the pastors took their teams to create new worshiping groups.

“Not just one but multiple groups,” Dean added, “and they’re training those groups to go farther in and share the Good News with their contacts.”

This succession of training — from ECC, to Solomon, to other pastors, and then to residents in the bush — is an example of using “bridge people” to share the Gospel.

“Bridge people are bilingual and bicultural people,” Dean explained. “When we find those people, there’s a great means to advance the Gospel to places where it has not been heard or embraced. For OMS… Solomon is a bridge person. He has all these contacts all across Liberia.”

With each new level of trained individuals, the Gospel can penetrate deeper into new areas of the world through bicultural and bilingual bridge people. These people can come into unreached groups with a knowledge of the language and culture, an understanding of the message they need to spread, and the skills to equip locals to continue the mission.

For foreigners and even African urban dwellers, places like the bush can be undesirable or unreachable. By using other bridge people who have better means of access, such as Solomon and the pastors who speak Bassa, the Gospel can spread farther in Liberia than it could in strictly OMS hands. That is part of the beauty of the body of Christ and the remarkable power of God’s Good News.

This pattern of finding bridges into new cultures is critical for internationalization. In this case, internalization means letting cultures different from OMS’ take the methods they have learned to continue spreading the Gospel and to send out their own groups of missionaries.

Solomon and his people, Dean added, understand that this bridging process is now primarily a local initiative in Liberia. In other words, even though Train & Multiply may have started from an international source, it will be continued and sustained on a local level. Solomon and the others want to develop self-reliant, local leaders that can use T&M across Liberia. One of those places is in the bush.

“I have no doubt that sooner or later some of these people in the bush that speak Bassa are going to be bilingual and speak another language, and the Gospel’s going to cross into another language group because they’ve been empowered,” Dean continued.

One of the greatest ways that we can serve bridge people, Dean said, is through prayer, encouragement, and continuing support and coaching as needed. Please take a moment to pray for Liberia, Solomon, and his people’s efforts to use Train & Multiply to spread the Gospel and start new worshiping groups.

For more information about Every Community for Christ and Train & Multiply, visit https://onemissionsociety.org/ecc.

By Jess Mitchell, summer communications intern

Tags: liberia, bush, africa, ecc, t&m, training, evangelism, unreached,