Press Release: OCI and UWM

Merger Brings Leadership Development Organizations Together to Further Serve Global Church

United World Mission to assume leadership of Overseas Council International, uniting formal and non-formal training efforts that help equip thousands.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Two organizations with a long history of helping grow and strengthen the global church through training and leadership development are joining forces to maximize their impact.

The merger will bring Overseas Council International (OCI,http://overseas.org), based in Indianapolis, under the leadership of United World Mission (UWM, http://uwm.org), headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The two groups have played a largely behind-the-scenes role in equipping thousands of missionaries, pastors, church planters and lay people over the past 70 years. Each emphasizes the development of indigenous leaders for effective ministry in their communities and nations. By uniting they expect to expand their reach and deepen their impact.

Founded in 1946 when a group of Ohio churches united to collaborate for global mission, UWM today has 400 staff serving more than 100 national partners in 48 countries. With an emphasis on non-formal methods, UWM makes ministry training accessible and reproducible to people that are outside the reach of formal efforts.

Established in 1974 by a group of businessmen in Indianapolis to raise funds to support Korean seminary students, OCI—or Overseas Council—today serves 130 partner schools in 70 countries which equip almost 60,000 students annually. Its focus is on formal theological education for Christian leaders who can equip and influence the church.

The combined organization will be headquartered in Charlotte, with OCI functioning under the name Overseas Council (OC), a Ministry of United World Mission.

“This move makes sense at so many levels,” said Dr. John Bernard, president of UWM. “We share many of the same values, even as we carry out ministry in distinct ways. We anticipate synergies that will lead to greater impact in both formal and non-formal ministry training. Beyond economic efficiencies, strategies, and aligned mission statements, we believe this merger enables us to better reflect the unity of Christ’s body on mission together.”

Scott Cunningham, OCI’s interim president and CEO, said that he believed the merger would be a “God-glorifying combination for the expansion of leadership development for the health of the global church, accomplishing more together, by God’s grace, than we ever could separately.”

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About United World Mission

Founded in 1946, United World Mission (UWM, www.uwm.org) exists to develop well-trained, spiritually-formed leaders, and to strengthen and multiply disciple-making churches that proclaim and demonstrate the gospel.  They fulfill this mission by partnering with the church around the world. Currently UWM’s 400 staff serve more than 100 national partners in more than 48 countries. 

About Overseas Council International

Established in 1974 to provide Korean seminary student scholarships, Overseas Council (www.overseas.org) has since grown into the largest leadership development ministry of its kind in the world. Under the banner “Called. Trained. Multiplied,” Overseas Council now “equips Christian leaders by partnering with vital seminaries worldwide to advance God’s kingdom.”

CUTLINE: FUSBC (Biblical Seminary of Colombia) in Medellín, Colombia, is one of the Christian leadership institutions with which Overseas Council (OC) and United World Mission (UWM) have partnered to help raise up and equip indigenous church leaders—work that continues as OC and UWM merge to maximize their efforts.

Christian Leader from Kenya Is Having an Impact on College Students

Our ministry empowers Christian leaders around the globe and this past month we learned how one leader is working to leave a lasting impact on her community.

While studying for a Master of Divinity degree at African International University in Kenya, Christian leader Joyce Mwangi works with the Fellowship of Christian Unions (FOCUS). FOCUS is the Kenyan equivalent to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the USA with a mission to equip college students for effective service to share the Gospel. Specifically, she is involved in student ministry, discipleship, mentorship, and training in different areas.

The Lord is using Joyce to preach to students on African campuses. She is also serving as a mentor for Norwegian exchange students who are coming to Kenya for a six-week program.

This exchange program where young Christian leaders learn about cultural context when teaching God’s word was made possible by a partnership between the FOCUS movement in Kenya and the Norwegian Students Christian movement. Mwangi is also a member of the Anglican Church of Kenya, St. Francis Karen, and the Mother’s Union, while serving as a preacher in youth services.

Your willingness to pray, give, and share for this ministry creates opportunities for Christian leaders all over the globe, like Joyce.

Argentinian Pastor Carries Influence Within Government

I Pastor Because…

One of the many great privileges that we experience at Overseas Council is to see how God’s hand is in everything. In the case of Argentinian Roberto Vilaseca, his Christian influence within government has a chance to impact a country that has struggled with police abuse, poor prison conditions, endemic violence against women, and obstacles keeping indigenous people from enjoying the rights afforded to them by Argentine and international law.

“Earlier this year, God opened a door for me to further extend my reach in the community. I was appointed Advisor of Religious Affairs for Buenos Aires’ city government. My theological preparation has allowed me to flourish in my new role. With God’s help, I will make a positive impact on our city leaders and community members,” said Vilaseca.

Currently enrolled in FIET Theological Institute, Vilaseca currently also fulfills the role of pastor at the Source of Life Christian Church in Buenos Aires. “I hold a Master of Journalism and Communication degree, but as a pastor I recognized my need for more theological training. FIET is equipping me with new skills and knowledge to become more effective in my calling and I am filled with joy to see how God is using me, His servant, to influence society and the Argentinian Church,” said Vilaseca.

Your willingness to pray, give, and share for this ministry creates opportunities for Christian leaders all over the globe, like Roberto.

Thank you for your faithful support of our ministry!

Ukraine Doctoral Program Celebrates Its First Graduate

 

Because of your support, Ukraine’s Dr. Roman Soloviy is the very first graduate to earn his Doctorate of Theology within the borders of the country!  This is a monumental event in Ukraine’s history because it means that the country will be growing its capacity to train future Christian leaders locally, thus providing greater access to training.

The lack of receiving an accredited theological degree from inside Ukraine has been a major problem for Christian leaders to receive proper training and education under Communist reign. Several years ago Overseas Council began working with the local Ukrainian church leaders and the government to allow for students to receive an official degree, approved by the government.  OC’s Regional Director for Euro-Asia, Taras Dyatlik, has led this project and has helped organize two cohorts of students to receive their degrees in Theology. Never before have faculty members in Ukraine have had this opportunity!

The aim of this faculty development project was to empower the Ukrainian Church by providing a path for faculty members of evangelical Ukrainian seminaries to gain higher education credentials in their own country. With this opportunity Christians in Ukraine would no longer have to leave their country to receive training. This new opportunity carries a lasting impact that will transform thousands where it is needed most.

Thanks to your support, we have helped tear down walls that have prevented access to theological training in Ukraine for many years.  Your support creates opportunities for Christian leaders all over the globe, like in Ukraine.

Thank you for your faithful support of our ministry!

He Heals the Brokenhearted and Binds Up Their Wounds

The tragic loss of a parent can greatly impact the path that a child chooses for their life. This was the case for Megono Zhimomi whose father was murdered when she was only five year of age. The Lord has shown in Magono’s life that He can turn tragedy into good.

“I held onto horrendous anger and hatred towards those who had killed my father,” said Megono. “As a young adult, I was encouraged by a mentor to lean into God, rather than be absorbed with revenge. After 15 years of holding onto revenge and hatred, I made a life-changing decision to give my heart to the Lord and became a new person in Jesus Christ.”

As Megono began growing in her relationship with Jesus,  she applied to Shalom Bible Seminary, in India to become more biblically sound. Since graduating in 2013, she has been working to impact her community as a teacher and a chaplain.

“Currently, I am serving in Timor-Leste (a small country south of Indonesia) and I have several responsibilities. I teach English to adults and children, I’m the school secretary, I sing on a local radio station, and I am the preacher for our women’s services,” said Megono, who also directs the community and children’s choirs when she has free time. “My students are predominantly non-Christian.  Jesus has given me a remarkable stage to share with others about the hope that Jesus brings.  My prayer is that God will use my life to reach these precious souls living in darkness. May we all faithfully do our part to multiply God’s Kingdom.”

Megono Zhimomi teaching students in English class.

Planting Seeds

O.C. partner school Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) has utilized a unique program to reach their most vulnerable students: Theological Education for Arab Christians at Home (T.E.A.C.H.). According to Elie Haddad, President of ABTS, “OC has been very influential in the maturity of ABTS. Their willingness to come alongside us and develop programs like T.E.A.C.H., where we were able to collaboratively build a whole curriculum in Arabic online has increased accessibility to critical information and teaching for our vulnerable students in a much- needed region.”

And You Will Be My Witnesses

The Holy Spirit is on the move around the globe!  In Moldova, University Divitia Gratiae student Terzi Vitalii has already planted seeds within his community while planning to have an even greater global impact.

“Our team organized a camp for refugee children in Lebanon. We reached out to people in the community to help get the site prepared and the response was amazing. We even had children in the community drop what they were doing to help out,” said Vitalii. With more than one million refugees that have entered the country of Lebanon in the last year, local leaders there have been overwhelmed with obstacles during this crisis.

“One of the most amazing things that happened during that project was seeing responses from local people who wanted to know why we were doing this,” continued Vitalii. Assembling a great number of volunteers in an area known to show little tolerance for Christianity was the first challenge overcome by this young Christian leader, but his greatest accomplishment was just ahead.

“When they asked why we were involved in all of this work for people we did not know, we simply told them that we are sharing the love of Christ,” said Vitalii. “Upon hearing this the volunteers simply smiled, embraced us,  and continued to work side by side with us.” Growing up the son of missionaries had a major influence on Vitalii’s life. He not only wants to live up to the example set by his parents, but he also wants to respond to the commandment given in Acts 1:8 by expanding ministry work beyond his own community.

Vitalii continued, “My prayer request would be for the Lord to continue to bless our youth ministry so that I might utilize tools like this Bible to expand to countries like Japan. Here in Moldova, over 90% of the citizens are Christian. However, in countries like Japan where only 1% of the population practice Christianity, we have amazing opportunities to expand His Kingdom.”

Your support of Overseas Council provides opportunities to Christian leaders like Terzi Vitalii who are planting seeds of hope in their community, and around the world.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

The Movement of Christ in Africa: The Call of the Holy Spirit Inspires Community Impact from Ugandan Leader

Fred Kyobe 4“I am Fred Kyobe, a Ugandan student currently undertaking Bachelors of Theology coursework at Kampala Evangelical School of Theology (KEST). I came to know the Lord while I lived in the home of my grandparents, the late Simeon and Eva Nsibambi.

Though I knew of the Lord, I did not understand Him. I could not understand how this all knowing being that I could not see or hear could truly effect my life. My doubt in Him allowed me to stray from Him in my youth. I learned that no matter how many times you turn from Him, God always makes himself known.

My life changed while working as a journalist at the New Vision newspaper where I reported on pop culture, scandal, and world events. What I saw with my own eyes and the stories I heard as a journalist shocked me and shook me to my core. It was then that I felt the Holy Spirit calling to me. Seeing so many frightening things about the world made me wonder, “How can I make any difference in all of this chaos?” It was then that I felt led to serve God by trying to have an impact on one person at a time.

My realization of how God wanted me to live led me to enroll at KEST. I am working in youth ministry with primary and high schools, along with hostel ministry work. Much of this work involves holding Bible studies with students and equipping them with life skills. Through my classwork at KEST, I am receiving the necessary skills and knowledge to do God’s work and I have discovered that if young people in our society are won for Christ and equipped with the necessary skills to reach out to their peers, the future of the church will be secure.”

Thank you for helping KEST train Christian leaders for Kingdom Work!

A Trip to the United States Provides Perspective

Visiting Scholars Project Allows Christian Leaders from Africa and India to Dig Deep at Asbury Theological Seminary 

The opportunity to study abroad affords a scholar the opportunity to broaden their perspective through experiencing different cultures and points of view in a distant land. This year two scholars had such an opportunity Jessy and Nupunga 3because of an amazing partnership between Overseas Council and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

This partnership gave birth to the Visiting Scholar project which brought Dr. Jessy Jaison and Dr. Nupanga Weanazana Wa Weanazana to the United States to spend time for advanced research residencies at the Asbury Theological Seminary campus.

Dr. Jaison, of the New India Bible Seminary in Kerala, India is the director of research and quality enhancement as well as professor of practical theology. She made the trip to the US with her husband, Dr. Jaison Thomas who is the principal of the seminary. Dr. Jaison’s research interests are in practical theology and pastoral formation and is working on a book for evangelical seminary leadership in Asia on the Integration of Theological Education, addressing 10 vital dimensions.

Dr. Nupanga Weanazana Wa Weanazana, originally from Democratic Republic of Congo but serving now in Central African Republic, is leading the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology. While at Asbury, Dr. Nupanga has written an article on King Saul in the book of Chronicles which has been sent for peer review. He is now working on Nehemiah 9 and his final project is to write a textbook on the Introduction to the Old Testament.

We’re so thankful for your generosity to the ministry of Overseas Council and to the leaders we support, like Dr. Nupunga and Dr. Jaison, who are both playing pivotal roles within their regions of the world. Your support is helping seminary and church leaders become more effective at sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Thank you for being a blessing to so many lives!

Ethiopian Graduate Engineers Inroads for Christ in Africa

Sara Abdella Final BorderAmid mass protests and violence in Ethiopia, the word of God and the Holy Spirit continue to guide and inspire Christian leaders to multiply His Kingdom.

“Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology has blessed my life in so many ways, and in turn has allowed me to extend Gods blessings to all in my community,” said Sara Abdella, who is seeking to graduate with a Masters degree in Theology in 2018.

Years prior, Abdella graduated university with a degree in electrical and computer engineering. Abdella set aside a secure & promising business career because she felt an overwhelming call to ministry from the Holy Spirit.

“After completing my degree, I was compelled to serve. I went to work for Evangelical Students’ and Graduates’ Union of Ethiopia and served there for four years in various capacities,” said Abdella.

“Seeking a change of pace and even more opportunities to serve His Kingdom,” continued Abdella, “God placed it upon my heart to go back to school for theological training so that I can teach and train others, and to help mold the minds of the next generation of Christian leaders.”

Since that day, Abdella has completed a post graduate degree in Biblical and Theological Studies (PGD) and she is now studying for her Master’s degree.

“During the course of one year studying at EGST, I have learned new and more impactful ways of thinking and talking about God, which has enabled me to confidently share my faith with all God places in my path,” said Abdella.

“It’s incredible where God will lead you if you let Him! Thank you for giving to EGST to help students like me fulfill their calling.”    

~Sara Abdella