Structures, strategies, and spheres of ministry may have changed but OMF’s essential objectives have remained consistent for 150 years.
Every so often we need to re-examine how we express those objectives. What certain vocabulary and terminology meant to one generation can miss the mark or mean something quite different to another, for that reason OMF has adopted a new Mission Statement to communicate afresh what it is we believe we’re called to do…
A brief exposition may help unpack what – 150 years on –
OMF understands its mission to be.
‘We’ encompasses the community of OMF in its widest sense, including the churches from which mission partners are sent, those who stand with us in prayer, together with our brothers and sisters in the churches of East Asia with whom we partner for the sake of the gospel. The effectiveness of what we do in mission often boils down to the quality and extent of our relationships.
A unique, saving message
Our central focus is to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to a sinful and broken world. And central to the good news is the unique, saving message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whatever the starting point for our sharing of the good news, our ultimate goal is to see men and women of all ages become disciples of Jesus Christ and living for the glory of God.
A comprehensive mission
Good news finds its roots in Isaiah 40–66. Isaiah 52:7 is foundational for the New Testament’s understanding of the gospel; the themes of peace, salvation and kingdom are brought to fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The good news is that God reigns and that his purposes for the whole of his creation are centred in Jesus – Saviour and Lord of the world. We exist to make all of this known.
The phrase ‘we share the good news of Jesus in all its fullness’ is a replacement for the word ‘evangelization’. Historically, the CIM talked about the mission’s ‘full-orbed ministry’, and understood ‘evangelization’ in holistic terms, encompassing medical care, education, famine relief, confronting the opium trade, working for the liberation of women and the care of orphans, and all the while, and in every context, sharing the gospel, planting churches and seeing lives and communities transformed.
The verb euangelizomai (to announce the good news) is used by the Apostle Paul to describe a range of evangelistic and teaching ministries – from initial proclamation, through to discipleship and the grounding of believers in the faith.
We have a comprehensive mission, and the gospel we proclaim is not a brief ‘formula’ but a person and a story – the whole biblical story of what God has done in Christ to bring redemption to the whole of creation.
We seek to follow the New Testament example of a way of mission that fully proclaims the gospel of Christ by word and deed, in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:17–18). Our aim in ministry, like that of the Apostle Paul, is for the obedience of faith,
not for conversion only, but for the life of obedience that flows from faith in Jesus (Romans 1:5; 16:26).
Appreciating the broader dimensions of the gospel is crucial for a proper understanding of the Church’s mission.
A supreme motivation
Our new statement reaches a climax with to the glory of God. This crescendo underlines our motivation and passion for the mission we believe God has given us. All we seek to be and do springs from the gospel itself and flows from a desire to live and serve for the glory of God. Our supreme motivation is that the one true and living God should be known and glorified among the peoples of East Asia.
Finally, statements and words only go so far. As a Fellowship we are committed to communicating the good news of Jesus by our saying, doing and being; by word, deed and character. As Howard Peskett wrote in One Passionate Purpose, the most powerful and effective way of making the good news known ‘is through lives which are themselves characterised and transformed by it.’ [Howard Peskett, One Passionate Purpose, (Overseas Missionary Fellowship), 1990:27–28].
As a Fellowship we want to be characterised by the gospel we proclaim. It’s an incredibly joyful yet serious task. The history of the CIM/OMF, as well as the experience of East Asian Christians in many places today, testifies to the fact that this good news is so important that it is worth dying for.
Our Mission Statement seeks to express that OMF remains committed to sharing the gospel – speaking it, preaching it, living it, demonstrating it, in all its biblical breadth and richness, and to allowing this good news to have its full effect in us as a Fellowship and amongst East Asia’s peoples.
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