Executive Director’s Asia Trip Confirms OMSC’s Enduring Calling

On March 3, I embarked on my first international trip on behalf of OMSC. With invaluable practical support from the Korean Research Institute for Mission's Dr. Steve Moon (photo at right) and Chun Lee, his colleague and recent OMSC alumnus, a very busy agenda provided many chances to speak with alumni, missionaries, church leaders, seminary administrators and professors, and students. Starting and ending in Seoul, I also visited Cheonan, Gwangju, and Daejeon over the next 18 days, preaching, lecturing, sharing about OMSC’s work, and getting to know colleagues in God’s mission at KRIM, Sarang Church, Yonsei University Church and Chapel, Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, Hoseo University and Theological Seminary, Honam University and Theological Seminary, First Presbyterian Church Daejeon, Torch Trinity University, Jiguchon Church, and Asian Mission. Everywhere I went, I received a warm and gracious welcome, meeting old friends of OMSC and many new ones.

In Seoul, I visited the Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery and adjacent 100th Anniversary Memorial Church, whose volunteers maintain the cemetery and serve as tour guides for visitors from all over Korea and the world. I was moved to stand at the grave of Dr. Horace Underwood III, who was a great personal encouragement to me after Carol and I were appointed by the PC (USA) in 1988 as Mission Co-workers to Japan. Also, the grave of Gaichi Soda (1867–1962), a Japanese man who had a ministry for Korean orphans, is a powerful symbol of hope for peace and reconciliation between neighboring countries who share a troubled history. In Gwangju, colleagues from Honam Seminary took me on a sobering and painful visit to the National Cemetery (photo at left), honoring the hundreds of mostly young students who were killed by S. Korea's military government during the uprising of May 18–27, 1980, evidently with tacit support from the U.S. government.

In Daejeon, I was asked to speak to mission agency leaders, pastors, and missionaries on “Retired Missionaries and the Church,” because about one-third of the 21,000 Korean missionaries serving today will be retiring by 2020! It was very clear from the reaction to my talk that churches and mission agencies have not planned to provide for these retirees.

One theme that kept coming up in conversations was the sense of feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted or burnt out. This came as something of a surprise, given the reputation of the Korean churches for their vitality. One seminary professor told me that his students send him messages at all hours of the night, often interrupting his and his wife's sleep. When I suggested he turn off his phone, he said he would rather respond than deal with the wrath of young students who expect an immediate answer.

The day before leaving Seoul, I was interviewed by the Kukmin Daily, a leading newspaper owned by the Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest church in the world. The senior reporter, to whom I was introduced by current OMSC residents Mi Ok Kim and Seong Il Lee, asked me what I had learned from my trip and what I would like to share with Korean church leaders, and I said without hesitation, “Christians are human beings who need Sabbath. We need to honor our limitations as creatures of God and recognize that we cannot do everything.”

On the final leg of my journey, I stopped off in Japan for a week. In Tokyo, I met with Rev. Hikari Kokai-Chang of the Wesley Foundation to discuss ways we might partner together in God’s mission. The next day, former OMSC Artist-in-Residence Soichi Watanabe, his wife, Nao, and their daughter, Manna, warmly welcomed me to their home where we shared a lovely meal and several hours of conversation. Then I went to Kobe where I met up with some of my former students at the Tokyo Union Theological Seminary and, on the final weekend of the trip, had the opportunity to meet with church members, preach, and lecture at a celebration honoring Ichibaku Church’s 70th anniversary. Ichibaku was founded by Kagawa Toyohiko, the great evangelist and social reformer I have been researching for several years.

After the trip, I pondered some tough questions. Does the immediacy of digital links strengthen or weaken the ties that bind us? If our technologies make us feel depleted and if we lose touch with loved ones and ourselves, how will this effect our relation to God and our effectiveness as Christ’s witnesses? The trip and my subsequent reflections reconfirmed OMSC’s enduring calling and relevance and strengthened my resolve to do everything I can to build on the great legacy of this ministry while seeking additional supporters who will, with God’s help, enable us to continue to thrive into our second century (2022–).

In such a time as this, missionaries, church leaders, and research scholars from every nation and church tradition still need a place like OMSC, a unique international community where “everyone is received as Christ” (Matthew 25:35 and Rule of St. Benedict 53:1), and where cross-cultural workers find spiritual, physical, intellectual, and professional renewal. Please
join us as we engage in mission with the world Christian community by becoming a regular contributor yourself, and please ask your congregation to include OMSC in your annual giving. You may send a check or give securely online.

With thanks and blessings,

Tom Hastings

Spring Mission Leadership Forum Tackles Timely Topic: “Mission and Refugees: Crisis and Opportunity.”

More than three dozen mission leaders from the United States and the United Kingdom convened in New Haven from April 21-23 to learn from each other and to share their perspectives on “Mission and Refugees: Crisis and Opportunity.”

Participants heard from a dynamic group of speakers, including Chris George, Executive Director of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, CT, Judith Mayotte, Ethicist and Author of Disposable People? The Plight of Refugees, and Rachel Uthmann, Director of Training for International Association for Refugees. Participants came away with a deepened sense of awareness of the political, cultural, and missional complexities of the refugee crisis and a sense of the urgency of this crisis for the world and the churches.

The next meeting of the MLF is scheduled for April 6–8, 2018 at OMSC. The theme we plan to explore is "Christian Witness and Building Bridges with Muslim Communities."

If God Loves Us , Why Do We Suffer? OMSC Residents Lead Trauma Healing Workshops for Local Community

Five OMSC residents took the lead in March as they put their Scripture-based trauma healing lessons to work, this time as workshop facilitators. Having participated as students in a trauma healing workshop earlier in the year, they put what they learned to good use for 10 members of the local community.

Participants attended sessions on two consecutive Saturdays in March. Through the workshops they discovered:

  • What the Bible says about suffering;
  • The effects of trauma;
  • How to explore their own personal trauma and loss;
  • How to release emotional pain; and
  • How to reconnect and build resilience for the future.

Facilitator Funmi Kehinde (pictured) shared what one participant said: “I am totally blessed by this seminar…I pray that God creates an avenue for this seminar to reach a wider audience.” Plans are already underway for residents to bring this workshop to their own countries of service when they return home .

OMSC Board of Trustees Welcomes Two New Members at May Annual Meeting

Version 2

Paul Kretschmann is a husband, father and retired attorney, formerly a partner of several New York City law firms. He is a Deacon and a past trustee of First Congregational Church of Greenwich, CT, (UCC) and continues to be actively engaged in various church and community organizations.

Steven Maasbach is the chair of the Board of the Beulah Land Development Corporation, a non-profit that aims to rebuild New Haven's most underserved communities. Steven received his Master of Divinity from Yale. He resides in Woodbridge, CT, with his wife and two children.

 Tuesday, November 8, 2005 @ 7:21:32 PM

Certificate Ceremony Marks the End of Another Year!

On Tuesday, May 9, the 2016-17 academic year officially came to an end when residents who had participated in the OMSC study program received their Certificate in Mission Studies in a ceremony at the Center. For those who live in areas of the world where Christians are in the minority and must worship under the watchful eyes of unsympathetic governments, the opportunity to participate openly in discussions and seminars on mission-related topics was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Supported also by the researchers and staff who make up the OMSC community, residents received their certificates from Dr. Thomas Hastings, Executive Director of OMSC.

Residents described their time at OMSC as helping them not only to form friendships, but also to widen their intercultural understanding and help to prepare them for the next phase of their ministries. The ceremony was followed by a farewell luncheon.

Photo does not show all certificate recipients due to security concerns.

Photo does not show all certificate recipients due to security concerns.

The World Is At Our Doorstep: Are You Reaping the Benefits of OMSC?

Why do people support OMSC? Speaking at a Pastors’ Mission Luncheon earlier this year, Global Missions Pastor Larry Fullerton (Black Rock Church, Fairfield) shared four reasons why he believes in OMSC and its mission:

larry-fullterton.jpg

OMSC is truly international. Missionaries living and studying at OMSC are serving in countries other than where they were born. They are Indians serving the Islamic world, Africans ministering to Asia, and Latinos working in Europe.

OMSC is local, located in New Haven, literally across the street from the Yale Divinity School. As a Missions Pastor in a church less than one hour’s drive from OMSC, I have, almost at my doorstep, a cohort of missionaries from around the world. Where else can I find missionaries who minister in limited access countries or who teach at some of the great international missionary schools and seminaries?

OMSC is ecumenical. It is one of the few places, possibly in all Christendom, where you can find Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, liberal, charismatic, and evangelical missionaries and scholars living and growing together. I serve in an evangelical church and it is refreshing to be confronted with the fact that the church crosses all man-made boundaries.

Finally, OMSC has enriched my life. It has had a powerful impact on me, not only as a Missions Pastor but also as a Christ-follower. I remember sitting in a seminar led by Dr. Andrew Walls and coming away with a new understanding of the spread of Christianity. I remember sitting in a leadership seminar at OMSC where we had a very frank discussion about racism and the mission field. It was at OMSC where I first heard of Operation World’s prayer guide and its emphasis on the necessity of praying for the nations. OMSC has enriched and challenged my soul.

Our Global Impact: 9,004 Miles From Home

bennet-map1.jpg

If home is where the heart is, then Kenya is definitely home to OMSC alum Marta Bennett. Born and raised in the United States, Marta first travelled to Kenya while pursuing her doctorate in leadership studies at Seattle University, while working at Seattle Pacific University as the Director of Campus Ministries. Although she expected that traveling more than 9,000 miles from Seattle to Kenya would be the experience of a lifetime, she had no idea that God was about to direct her path in an unexpected way.

Nairobi, a Maasai phrase meaning “place of the cool waters,” is the capitol city of Kenya and is the largest city between Cairo, Egypt and Johannesburg, South Africa. It was here, while working on her dissertation research, Marta fell in love with Kenya. After completing her degree, she moved permanently to Nairobi to teach at Daystar University, where she eventually became dean of postgraduate studies.

Marta’s teaching responsibilities soon branched out to other schools as well, and by 2006 she had joined the faculty of Nairobi International School of Theology (now known as International Leadership University). Focused on developing Christian leaders for both church and society, ILU also has schools in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, and Burundi.

Though Marta’s career was fulfilling, her heart was burdened by the large number of children she saw in need. So, with God directing her path once again, she pursued adoption and was
soon sharing her home with son, Justin, daughter, Sara Imani and foster son, Steven. As her children grew, she knew it was time to share with them part of her own heritage.

So, in 2011, Marta, Justin and Sara Imani made the long journey to New Haven to become part of the international residential community at OMSC while Steven remained in Nairobi to pursue his studies.

As Justin began 8th grade and Sara Imani started 6th, both were concerned about making friends and learning in an American system so different from the Kenyan British-based system at home. Justin quickly found his niche through joining the New Haven Youth Soccer league, along with a few classmates and two other boys whose families also lived at OMSC.

Sara Imani took longer. She confesses that for the first three months, she found an excuse to go to the friendly school nurse almost daily, who provided a safe haven and welcoming words. Eventually, she made several close friends at school, joined the girls’ hip hop dance team, and settled in well. At the end of the school year, Sara Imani wrote thank you notes to many, and especially appreciated Nurse Janice, noting, “I’m sorry I haven’t been coming by very much lately – but at the beginning of the year, you were my only friend. I’m so glad you were here.” At OMSC she was happy for piano lessons, excursions, and family time together.

Meanwhile, Marta took full advantage of attending the many seminars offered with leading scholars and visitors from around the world. As she soaked in the content and lively interactions, the year provided her with an opportunity to step back and to reflect on the Gospel as it is lived out in East Africa and beyond, to be refreshed through fellowship with other residents, and to make forays into the wealth of resources at the Yale Divinity School Library, to study, write, and enrich her teaching upon return to Nairobi.

Fast forward to May 2017, and Justin has just completed his freshman year at Penn State University. In his application to university, he cited his year at OMSC as a significant contributing factor in preparation for his studies in the US. Marta and Sara Imani (who is finishing her junior year of high school in Kenya), were recently explaining the photo on their fridge to a house guest. The photo displays all the 2011/2012 OMSC residents and staff outside in front of OMSC. Together they reminisced about the friendships made, the adventures experienced, the monthly community dinners, and the gift of that year apart together as a family.

Ministry for Marta is expanding, even as she remains based in East Africa. After serving as the Head of Department of Leadership Studies, then as the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at ILU in Nairobi, she is now narrowing her engagement to teaching and supervising Masters and PhD students in their research and writing. This allows her to become more involved in leadership development and discipleship in her local Kenyan church, with its rapidly expanding outreach and church plants, as well as to invest more in grass root ministries being launched by former students in Rwanda, South Sudan, and Kenya. Home is where the heart is, and Marta’s heart is in Kenya.

Alumni News and Notes

The School Principal and “Uncle Ohene”
Update from Ghana

As we reported in the last issue of OMSC TODAY, alumnus Ohene Kumi brings Bible lessons to many schools in Ghana. Recently he shared this experience: 

“One of the junior high schools had a new principal, and I was asked to speak to her so that she could decide if we should bring our Bible course to her school. After reading over our materials, the principal shouted ‘Oh my Lord, I studied this lesson when I was a student, and Uncle Ohene was bringing the lessons to us every Friday.’ She looked closer and said ‘you are Uncle Ohene!’ and she quickly took the lessons and shared to all the students and teachers at her school.”


No Taxi? No Problem!
The Birth of a Home Church in Nigeria

Modupe at her home church – the Good News Chapel

Modupe at her home church – the Good News Chapel

Former OMSC residents Amos and Modupe recently shared how God is always at work. Amos says, “While I was away during the month of January for Steering Team meetings, Modupe relied on a taxi to get to church. One day she waited but the driver never showed up. She decided to start singing and praying. After a while she heard a knock on the gate. When she went to open it, there stood 15 young boys dressed for church. She invited them to join her…and this gave birth to the Good News Chapel!”


Former Senior Scholar Receives Ph.D.

A moment of Grace is what the speaker called it, and so it was as former OMSC Senior Scholar Randall Prior took part in the March 24 University of Divinity Conferral Ceremony at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, Australia for the conferral of his Ph.D. After ten years enrolled, and perhaps thirty years in the making, he notes that it was with a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction that he received his Ph.D.


Spreading the Gospel in the Mountains

At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out.
— Numbers 9:23

Former residents of OMSC, E* and J* (names protected for security reasons) work in a remote area under the ever watchful eyes of the Chinese government. Recently they undertook a trip into the mountains to train four local mission workers. Despite security concerns, and some personality conflicts among the local workers, E* and J* felt the Lord’s peace as they undertook this trip. Here is what they said:

“We had a great time in the mountains. It was snowing on the mountain tops and still cold…J couldn’t sleep well because of the low temperature at night, but we were full of His spirit. We had 7 people all attending the training, for a total of 21 hours teaching within four days. We were so encouraged by the workers’ experiences of local culture and religion. We were thankful that more and more local people have been interested in reaching out and sharing the Gospel.”


OMSC Alum Paul Matheny proudly wears his OMSC T-shirt in this photo taken at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. He and his wife, Mary Nebelsick (far right), and their daughter, Rachel (second from right), pose with some of their students.

OMSC Alum Paul Matheny proudly wears his OMSC T-shirt in this photo taken at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. He and his wife, Mary Nebelsick (far right), and their daughter, Rachel (second from right), pose with some of their students.


The Good News of the Gospel is Not Always Good News for Mission Workers

New churches are opening around the world as people of other faiths convert to Christianity. But in many places, those who are newly converted themselves are often tagged as the local leaders of the church, without the educational resources or the experience for the job. Thanks to your support, current OMSC residents who have gained experience and understanding through participation in our residential study program will be returning to central Asia to offer member care for some of these pastors.

In India, former OMSC resident Steward faces a different challenge as he works with Hindu converts. He reports that Hindu fanatics are trying to reconvert all the Christians in India and are mobilizing nearly 100,000 workers. Some churches are closing and one church was forcibly turned into a school. Even amidst these challenges, Steward says, “Indeed the Lord is good and He is taking care of our life and ministry here.” Please continue to pray for workers like Steward.

Joy Pachuau on her book, Being Mizo: Identity and Belonging in Northeast India

Joy Pachuau has been a part of the OMSC community throughout the 2016–2017 academic year while working at Yale, in the Program in Agrarian Studies at the Macmillan Center, on a Fulbright-Nehru Academic Excellence Fellowship. She is a professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and was recently interviewed on the MacMillan Report about her latest book: Being Mizo: Identity and Belonging in Northeast India.

Gala Raises Over $13,000 for Artist-in-Residence Program

On April 29, art lovers and friends of OMSC gathered for a Gala and Silent Art Auction. Guests had the opportunity to meet our current artist, Ronnie Farmer, Jr., who unveiled his latest painting, a meditation on the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1–8) entitled Agony: A Cry for Justice. Proceeds from the event raised more than $13,000 for the artist in residence
scholarship.

Two OMSC Residents, Director Speak at Underwood Symposium

On April 1, the Horace G. Underwood Center for Global Christianity at New Brunswick Theological Seminary presented the Underwood Lecture & Symposium: Missiological Challenges in a Globalized Context.

The keynote speaker was the Rev. Dr. Loida I. Martell, Palmer Theological Seminary. Panelists for the Symposium were two OMSC residents: Rev. Dr. Ravi David and Rev. Kola Michael Kehinde, as well as OMSC's Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Thomas J. Hastings.

See the event flyer or brochure for details.

Did you miss the event? NBTS has made a video recording available on their Facebook page.

Experience of the China Church in the 21st Century—The 27th U.S. Catholic China Bureau National Conference

St. John’s University, Jamaica, Queens, New York City.
August 11-13, 2017

Scheduled Keynote Speakers: Father Joseph Jiang, S.J., Boston College
Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti Archbishop Eugene Nugent: From 2001 until 2010 he directed the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong.

Saturday August 12 sessions: Father Zhang, Biblical Studies Professor, China;
Father Tommy Murphy, S.S.C., Former Columbans Superior General; Sister Rita Hongyan Ge, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Hope, MA Candidate in Spirituality, Loyola University of Chicago; Joann Pittman, China Source; Father Michael Li, China; Dr. Joseph Lee, Professor of History and Executive Director, Confucius Institute, Pace University, NYC; various representatives and laity from U.S. Chinese Catholic communities and associations.

Saturday afternoon Chinese Catholic liturgy, Chinese banquet, and cultural evening presentation

Sunday morning August 13 Plenary Session: Interdisciplinary Scholarly Exchange on Christianity in China and modern topics of Catholic religion. Scholars, graduate students and others may submit proposals and will remain open until all panels are filled.

General public, students and scholars are welcome to attend. Register at www.uscatholicchina.org.
Early bird registration till July 21, 2017
Questions: Contact Executive Director Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D.
director@uscatholicchina.org
 

OMSC Trustee Presents Book to Pope Francis

OMSC Trustee Lamin Sanneh presented his latest book, Beyond Jihad, to Pope Francis at the February 9 meeting of the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with Muslims. Dr. Sanneh is the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity, Professor of History, and Professor of International and Area Studies at Yale University.

God of All Nations

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. —Ecclesiastes 3:1

I want to share a story about the beauty of this unique community of missionaries, church leaders, and research scholars from around the world who, since 1922, have gathered annually for sustained spiritual, physical, and intellectual renewal. Those of you who have firsthand experience of the OMSC community surely could contribute your own inspiring stories, and we invite you to do so (contact us).

Group photo 20160908-a.jpg

On Monday, November 7, the day before our national election, the residents prepared a delicious lunch for the OMSC staff. They carefully planned this event because they wanted to express their sincere appreciation for our staff and pray with and for us before the imminent election. Before the meal, we sang “America the Beautiful” together with our sisters and brothers from Africa, East Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and India. Kola Kehinde, a Nigerian serving with his wife, Funmi, in the UK, led us in a prayer that was probing, heartfelt, and eloquent. The prayer began with a paraphrase of Psalm 47:8—“God who is king over all nations; God who sits on your holy throne.” After the final votes were counted and Americans responded with delight, depression, or indifference, I called to mind our Nigerian brother’s
prayer and found comfort and challenge in his words. As Christians, we know the God of Israel—“the king of all nations”—through Jesus Christ, a most unexpected and countercultural king who went from town to town preaching, teaching, healing, and loving, then through a cross and empty tomb, opened a new way to the kingdom of forgiveness, love, and grace.

In uncertain times like this, I am reminded of the words of Kagawa Toyohiko (1888–1960), the great Japanese evangelist and social reformer, who reflected back on his own introduction to Jesus through his friendship with the Logans and the Meyers, U.S. Presbyterian families serving in Tokushima on the island of Shikoku. Kagawa wrote, “I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about.”

As OMSC prepares for its second century (starting in 2022), we want to partner with you and your congregation for the sake of God’s ongoing mission in the world today. We believe that
mission, according to the pattern of the ministry of Jesus, is the engine that drives and renews Christian faith and theological reflection, sustaining the church in humility and hope. There is
much preaching, teaching, healing, and loving yet to be done, so let us continue to engage in mission together with the worldwide Christian movement.

We hope you enjoy these stories from OMSC and invite you to explore our new web site. We look forward to hearing from you and pray God’s richest blessings on you and yours during Advent and Christmas.

Thomas John Hastings, Executive Director

Lamin Sanneh: A Quiet and Influential Scholar

Lamin Sanneh’s new book, the dedicated work of a decade from a mission scholar who writes every day, has been called by reviewers “a grand narrative of the pacifist practice of inter-generational peaceful conversion and assimilation of Islam in West Africa” and a “much-needed alternative to much of the current alarmist discourse about religious extremism and violence in West African Islam.”

In Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition in West African Islam (Oxford University Press, September 2016), Lamin examines the origin and evolution of Muslim African pacifist tradition,
focuses on the ways in which Islam spread and took hold apart from jihad, and argues that Islam was successful in Africa not because of military might, but because it was adapted by Africans themselves.

He told his story of conversion from Islam to Christianity in Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African (Eerdmans, 2012), an overview of a life that started in the Gambia, West Africa, and included study at the University of Birmingham (England) and the University of London. As a review in The Hillhurst Review put it, “Dr. Sanneh has made the transition from Islam to Christianity, from Methodist to Catholic, over the space of half a century. His book is the exploration of a conversion from unlikely places to unimagined ones: summoned by the Savior to a religion about which he had little knowledge, and a marginal one in a society where the everyday came into tangible contact with, and was largely dictated by, Islamic thought. Along the way, Dr. Sanneh explores how Christianity dialogues with Islam, and why the two religions often clash in dialogue, coming as they do from two paradigms that often speak past
each other.”

Lamin’s classic text is Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (Orbis Books, 1989). A Roman Catholic, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Commission of the Historical Sciences, and by Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Commission on Religious
Relations with Muslims.

He has received an award as the John W. Kluge Chair in the Cultures and Societies of the South by the Library of Congress. For his academic work, he was made Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Lion, Senegal’s highest national honor, and is a recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh.

Lamin developed a deep and abiding curiosity and a lifelong interest in matters of the intellect at an early age. “I grew up reading the classics of Islam, with religious and historical accounts steeped in the vindication of the things of God. As a child I remember stumbling on Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life, which had a profound influence on me. It made me resolved to pursue the world of learning and scholarship. I became a voracious reader,” he told Christianity Today in an October 2003 interview with Jonathan J. Bonk, then the OMSC executive director. “Later on at school I read the works of the Western masters, such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, Keats, Longfellow, Flaubert, Goethe, and so on. All that unlocked the teeming world of the imagination to me, just as Helen Keller intimated.”

An OMSC Board of Trustees member and a contributing editor to the Center’s International Bulletin of Mission Research, Lamin is known as a quiet and influential participant in many OMSC gatherings—and as a dedicated consumer of afternoon tea. He is the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity, Professor of History, and Professor of International and Area Studies at Yale University.

Daniel J. Nicholas

Trauma Healing Seminar Held, Healing Group Planned

The emotional and spiritual hurts and habits that come with living in a fallen world and the deep wounds that some people carry with them each day were the focus of attention October
17–20 when Harriet Hill, director of the Trauma Healing Institute of the American Bible Society,
led a seminar on “Healing the Wounds of Trauma: Help for Ourselves and Others.”

Dr. Hill and team members Karen Mahan of The Rivendell Institute, New Haven; and Mona Hennein of Life Focus Communications, Chicago; offered participants insights about how to use Scripture and basic mental health principles to find healing of emotional pain and equip them to help others.

Funmi Kehinde (left) receives a certificate from seminar leader Harriet Hill.

Funmi Kehinde (left) receives a certificate from seminar leader Harriet Hill.

Black Rock Church, Fairfield, CT; Christian Reformed World Missions; and St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Haven, cosponsored the OMSC seminar.

Michael (Kola) and Adeola (Funmi) Kehinde, residents from Nigeria who serve in Europe with Calvary Ministries (CAPRO USA), are organizing an OMSC Healing Group on two Saturdays in March to apply what they learned during the seminar.

Central Asians Minister Faithfully Despite Threats

When Renat and Anya arrived at OMSC in August, they left behind their busy lives in Central Asia and the accompanying ministry stresses to spend a few months in New Haven. The couple and their three daughters have already become important members of the Center’s residential community.

In 2008, Renat and Anya led small groups in a Central Asian church

In 2008, Renat and Anya led small groups in a Central Asian church

A native of Central Asia, Renat became a Christian in 1997 after the Soviet Union collapsed. In 2004 he attended a Bible college where he met Anya and they married in August 2005. The following month he was ordained as a pastor and took responsibility for leading a church. But the pastorate proved to be a difficult experience. After several problems with government officials, Renat resigned the pastorate in 2013, and started working for an international ministry that serves Central Asian Christians when they face persecution.

Church small group

Church small group

Anya, who was born in Ukraine and grew up in Central Asia, says life in New Haven is refreshing because “when I came here I could say ‘Jesus’ without looking to see who is behind me.” She also committed her life to Jesus Christ after the Soviet Union collapsed. Her conversion followed friendship with local Campus Crusade for Christ representatives. In 2002 Anya finished Bible college studies and continued working at the college as an assistant teacher. After marrying Renat, she joined a preschool program and later became the director. Anya also loves to read, and she enjoys swimming.

The couple’s oldest daughter, Grace, born in 2006, is a fourth grader in a New Haven school. She loves to study, read, and travel. Born in 2009, Mary attends first grade in New Haven. Her mother says she “loves everything about princesses,” as well as dancing, jumping, and singing. Both of the girls enjoy swimming. The couple’s youngest child, Rose, born in 2014, loves to walk, climb, run, jump, and watch movies.

The family has chosen alternate names and withheld their family name for security reasons.

Daniel J. Nicholas

Senior Mission Scholars—Past and Present—Show Their OMSC Spirit

Allison Howell of the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission, and Culture in Ghana, who was a Fall 2009 resident senior mission scholar, proudly wore her OMSC T-shirt this fall when she was in New South Wales, Australia. “I am grateful to God for my time at OMSC and for the opportunities it gave me to develop new insights for ministry, not only in Ghana, but which have a broader application in mission” she said. If alumni/ae still have an OMSC-branded T-shirt, hat, or little bear, we would love to receive a photo of you wearing your OMSC spirit wear for publication in a future newsletter or as a Facebook post (contact us).

Pastor Luncheon Ravi-Mercy - web.jpg

Ravi and Mercy David (at the podium), the 2016–2017 senior mission scholars, were among the speakers on October 26 for OMSC’s mission luncheon and seminar for pastors and church mission leaders. They talked of their ministries that “equip and encourage” missionaries and church leaders in Bangalore, India, and around the world. A Central Asian couple also spoke about their vital ministry and former Board of Trustees member Larry Fullerton of Black Rock Church challenged attendees to support OMSC. Executive Director Thomas J. Hastings (seated at left) was the speaker on “Partnering for God’s Mission in the Context of World Christianity.”

Georgian Artist Mixes Colorful Painting & Evangelism

After publicly acknowledging God’s call on his life in 2002, Ronnie Farmer, Jr., the 2016–2017 OMSC artist, moved from Augusta, Georgia, to Kentucky and enrolled in Berea College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Religion with an emphasis in Biblical Studies. “While at Berea College I became very involved with campus ministry through InterVarsity and developed a great zeal for cross-cultural missions and discipleship ministry,” says Ronnie.

His desire to be fully prepared for ministry led him to enroll at Asbury Theological Seminary, where he began to explore the intersection of theology and art, a concept that soon became a passion of his life.

The artist painting and interpreting This is My Beloved Son (click for video). “The acrylic on wood image,” he observes, “highlights the nature of God in the context of a father.”

Drawing inspiration from Psalm 27:4, Ronnie states that “people are naturally drawn to beauty. As an artist, I believe I can direct people to God’s beauty by creating art that is aesthetically engaging.” He describes himself these days as “an aesthetic evangelist” and challenges “communities of color to participate in discipleship ministry, both locally and globally.”

While completing a Clinical Pastoral Education course, Ronnie served as a chaplain at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Later, he became associate pastor of Bezalel Church, a congregation being started in urban Atlanta where he explored the ways in which art could be used in pastoral care and discipleship ministry.

One of Ronnie Farmer’s most recent creative projects is the design of a new logo for OMSC.

One of Ronnie Farmer’s most recent creative projects is the design of a new logo for OMSC.

Following those experiences, Ronnie invested three-and-a-half years (2013–2016) with TEAM, The Evangelical Alliance Mission, as a missions coach and as the founding director of The Art and Justice League, a collaboration of five artists who created “artistic expressions focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus, with the expressed intent of mobilizing young adults to unreached and unengaged countries.”

He and his wife, Sarah, are the parents of two young boys. They moved to the New Haven area so she could become a research scholar at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.

Reaching Generations in Ghana

It is an early August morning in Ghana, where the daily temperatures will average a warm 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Although students are on summer break, today they are walking to the local public school to attend Vacation Bible School. The children, most of whom range in age from 10–12 years old, arrive early to help clean the classrooms and compound.

By 9:00 a.m. the classes have started and the cheerful sounds of the children’s voices can be heard as they participate in the songs, games, crafts, and Bible stories that will make up this week. Some have brought friends with them, others come on their own, but all 300 students attending will make new friends before the week is over. Over the course of the next three weeks, 130 volunteer teachers will interact with 3,022 children at nine different locations throughout Ghana.

While the large number of students and the various locations might seem like a logistical
nightmare to us, the leader of the VBS, Dr. Ohene Kumi, takes it in stride. An OMSC resident during the 2010–2011 academic year, Ohene has been working with children for more than 20 years. Although his wife, Jane, and children, Ama and Kwesi, were not able to accompany him to OMSC during his sabbatical, he counts himself blessed to have made many friends while in the United States.

In addition to participating in seminars with fellow Christian missionaries from Myanmar, Nigeria, Kenya, Philippines, Canada, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States, he also had time to work on a book to help further his ministry. Not only does he keep in touch with many of his fellow OMSC alums, some have even visited him in Ghana, lending financial and moral support to his ministry.

Of his time at OMSC, Ohene says, “Meeting with different missionaries and mission scholars at OMSC and listening to their stories of how God’s work is being carried on in their countries inspired me to continue training others for the children’s ministry.”

In fact, the summer VBS program is only one facet of Ohene’s ministry to children, which also includes a public school discipleship program held in 262 schools across the country. “When we started the public school’s discipleship program many years ago, it was very difficult. We did not have trained chaplains and some school principals did not welcome us,” Ohene says. “However, over the years we have witnessed students’ lives changing and some students moved on to become teachers and principals. They are the people who are now recommending our program to other schools across the country, and into countries like Togo and Liberia.” Ohene himself travels to two schools every week to lead the 45-minute discipleship training
sessions.

His wife, Jane, is also involved with Christian ministry and recently organized an overnight event called the “Virtuous Women’s Leader Retreat.” Studying the fruit of the Spirit were thirty women who, although they all represented local churches, did not know each other before the event. After studying together and sharing in the food prepared by the retreat center staff, the women felt renewed and inspired to share what they learned at their local church women’s group meetings.

Both Ohene and Jane are humble, unassuming people, so it is easy to underestimate how many lives they have impacted during the course of their ministry. But for the thousands of children who have attended VBS and the thousands more who learn of Christ in the public schools, the impact is very real.

—Pamela Sola