I am writing this from Denver International Airport. I am on my way home after participating in the semi-annual OMF-US board meeting. I have been a member of this board for the past nine years and this was my final meeting.
OMF was founded nearly 150 years ago by Hudson Taylor, a wonderful man of God and brilliant missiologist. Today OMF is a global organization which sends missionaries from many countries to share the gospel with the people of East Asia. It was an honor to be on this board.
The OMF board members and staff are humble people who desire to serve God. Being with them is always encouraging, even when the board meeting is consumed with complex business discussions. As usual, this meeting included a number of issues without easy solutions. It also included some strategic insights that are shaping how OMF progresses. Not surprisingly, these insights are also pertinent to Anda Leadership.
Two quick anecdotes stand out to me. In each of these situations, a non-Western leader explicitly requested that OMF not behave like Westerners normally do by either circumventing the locals or controlling the effort. Rather, these local leaders want OMF to help them do the work.
First, we heard about a conversation an American leader had with an African leader about a ministry initiative focused on reaching out to ethnically Chinese people living in Africa. During the interaction the American heard, “Please come help us with Chinese ministry. Please don’t come and do it yourself.”
A similar incident happened in China. The Chinese leader said to the OMF leader, “We don’t want you over us. We don’t want you under us. We want to walk side by side with you.”
People in many parts of the world desire to be in true partnership with Westerners and Americans in particular. They don’t want more handouts, they don’t want to be coddled, and they don’t want be ignored. Rather, they want to be equal participants in the work.