ANS News Release
Special to ASSIST News Service
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (ANS – June 26, 2017) – The Overseas Students Mission Board of Directors, gathered here for their 2017 Annual Meeting, has voted to return to their core mission. OSM was formed by missionary Bob Finley in 1953 after his expulsion from China. His original vision was to help reach international students and visitors, supporting their return home with the Gospel.
The mission agency, which sponsors the International Students Day of Prayer each year just before the American Thanksgiving holiday, will re-focus efforts on sending internationals home as missionaries. Campus evangelism and hospitality will be turned over completely to local churches and campus ministries in the USA.
“We have too often fallen into the trap of re-inventing the wheel here in the USA,” says Board Chairman William Thomas Bray.
“There are already plenty of campus missions and missionaries on most of the 3500 universities in the USA. Rather than compete with them, we want to support local churches and campus ministries like Bridges International, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, International Students, Inc. and InterVarsity ISM—especially student-led activities that produce student leaders.”
For the last several years, a large portion of the mission’s income has gone to support indigenous missions overseas—and for the last two years, over half of the annual contributions have gone to students and visitors who have returned home as missionaries. Bray says the OSM board has acknowledged this trend, and wants to support its growth.
“I’d like to see us locate and send back 1,200 new student missionaries in the next 10 years,” he said, “that would only be 1% of the 1.2 million international students now in the USA. It would cost less that $6 million a year—a tiny fraction of what it takes to send the same number of American missionaries.”
Bray, who is a fulltime Christian author and journalist, first accepted the presidency of OSM in 2007. Since 2015, he has served part-time in the position. He frequently contributes articles on missions and campus ministries to ASSIST News.
The OSM board has accepted his plans to form a search committee to look for a younger president and field staff “from among the millennial generation and even younger students.”
Among the other decisions made at the Annual Meeting:
- Continue to advocate united, community-based hospitality outreaches to international students and volunteers spearheaded by local leaders of churches and campus ministries;
- Write and publish news of campus outreach and joint community and student events such as year-round prayer movements, International Students Sunday May 12, and International Students Day of Prayer November 17;
- Find and support student-led missions to all nations, especially through joint efforts with local churches and campus ministries like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Cru, IVCF and ISI;
- Find and cultivate major donors who can help support a $5 million-dollar publication and media effort aimed at mobilizing international student leaders to initiate new, indigenous missions.
“What Overseas Students Mission does best,” says Bray, “is supply logistical support to student missionaries — that’s both what our history and current experience shows us, and what we need to be focusing on in the future.
“Instead of running an intensive care nursery for new born babies, we need to come in and help students when they are called, tried, tested and ready to be sent home as missionaries.”
Photo captions: 1) Dr. Bob Finley meeting with Billy Graham. 2) Overseas students smiling. 3) Bill Bray.
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