OMF International (formerly Overseas Missionary Fellowship and before 1964, the China Inland Mission) is a missionary society whose headquarters presently resides in Singapore. Hudson Taylor founded this world-changing ministry on 25 June 1865.
The China Inland Mission had as a guiding principle that there really was to be no distinction between the so-called “clergy” and the “laity”. The “priesthood of all believers” led to the idea that missionaries could come from any class of society. From the beginning it accepted missionaries from the working class as well as single women. No appeals have ever been made for funds. Instead, reliance upon God is practiced to move people through prayer alone.
Hudson Taylor’s original goal for the Mission was to reach China for Christ. With the ascent of Communism in that land, the remit began to extend to the rest of East Asia.
The name was officially changed to Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1964 and to OMF International in the 1990s.
The following information was taken directly from the OMF website and provides a real sense of their remit remit:
“Our mission is that, in fellowship with UK churches and other organizations, OMF seeks to mobilize people, prayer and resources for mission to East Asians both here and overseas.
Our vision is to see the church encourage and support the establishing of reproducing communities of believers in East Asia.
Our values are those of: dependence on God through prayer; non solicitation; keeping the priority of long term mission and the biblical basis for mission before the Christian public; integrity in relationships; aiming to maintain high standards; and being a learning organization.”
Historical overview of this ministry is as follows:
1832 James Hudson Taylor is born. 1853 Hudson Taylor embarks on his first missionary voyage to China. 1865 Taylor founds the CIM (China Inland Mission). 1866 Taylor, his wife, four children and 16 missionaries, sail for China. During the journey 20 crew members become Christians. 1900 The Boxer Uprising. Thousands of Chinese Christians and hundreds of missionaries are murdered, including 58 adults and 21 children from CIM. 1905 Taylor dies in Changsha, China, aged 73. 1949 The Communists take over China. 1950 The evacuation of CIM workers begins. 1953 The ‘reluctant exodus’ of CIM workers is complete. OMF missionaries are now working in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. 1975 OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) and BEM (Borneo Evangelical Mission) integrate their work. 1980 Rapid changes in East Asia’s economy enable Christians with professional skills to work in countries that are closed to traditional missionary work. 2006 Patrick Fung takes over as OMF’s first Asian General Director. Present We currently have just under 1400 members from 40 nations working throughout East Asia , and serving in Western nations where East Asians work or study .
Did You Know?
James Hudson Taylor (21 May 1832 – 3 June 1905) was a missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM, now OMF International). Taylor spent 51 years in China. The society he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country. They in turn began 125 schools. Eventually more than 300 missionary stations were set up with hundreds of local workers in all eighteen provinces of China.
Hudson Taylor was particularly sensitive to Chinese culture. He wore native Chinese clothing, which was rare for missionaries of the time. Under his leadership, China Inland Mission remained non-denominational and accepted missionaries from the working class, from among single women, as well as multinational recruits.
Today it has been theorized that perhaps as many as 100 million Chinese know Christ as their Savior. No one is certain given that many of these believers meet in local house churches.
It may surprise you to know that China is referred to in the Bible. Here is an interesting passage from the Book of Isaiah:
Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel. I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth… Surely these shall come from afar. Look – those from the north and the west, and these from the land of Sinim.
Isaiah 49: 6, 12
In their respective concordances, both Young and Strong identify “Sinim” with the Orient, namely China. While some associate this with Phoenicia or with Aswan in Egypt, the problem is that verse 12 implies that they are from very far away.
Sinim’s root word is ‘Sin’ or the Sinites…not to be confused with the act, but the people. Even today, we use the term “Sino” to refer to China (e.g., Sino pact is a treaty with China; Sinology is the study of things Chinese). In Hebrew, there is no “Ch” sound as in English or “Q” sound as in Chinese. “Sin” seems to be a phonetic translation of Qin or Chin in the Bible or more specifically, in Hebrew.
The Chinese Nation dates back to at least 2205 BC when it was known as the “Middle Kingdom.” King Yu established China in what became known as the 1st Dynasty or the Xia Dynasty. This lasted from the 21st to the 16th Century BC). The 2nd Dynasty or the Shang Dynasty followed this and lasted from the 16th to the 11th Century BC. The 3rd Dynasty was the Zhou Dynasty, which lasted from the 11th Century BC till 221BC.
When Isaiah is writing @ 720 BC, Qin (or Sinim) is but one of hundreds of states that make up the Zhou Kingdom. Qin was located in the Gansu Province and was a main springboard for trade with the West. In a way, Isaiah is prophesying that the Sinim would eventually become predominant, as he doesn’t use the other names for the land at the end of the famed silk road.
Just about 500 years later, the Qin Dynasty gains control over the rest of the country through a series of feudal wars. This occurred in 221 BC when Qin Shi Huangdi defeats 14 other major states that exist in the land at that time.
This ruler unified China and built much of the Great Wall of China. Today, China is named after this 4th Dynasty – and the name whose origin can be found in your Bible, right here in Isaiah 49.
Isaiah 49 is a remarkable prophecy for another reason as well. This passage pertains to the 2nd Coming of Christ and predicts that many from the Land of Sinim would be believers in Christ. If we are right about the size of the Church in China, then as many as 100 million believers in China would agree.
Just a final note here while we are on the topic of China. One of Noah’s sons is named Japheth. It is from Japheth that much of Asia is descended. Japheth’s name means “Enlargement” and it signifies in a prophetic sense that Japheth’s progeny would become an enlarged population on earth. They would become the most populous people (having many more descendants than Ham or Shem). And without doubt, the people of China and the rest of Asia are the most populous of the nations on earth.