The fallen leaves have been raked and the garden is in hibernation. Yet looking out of the kitchen window, I notice that the neighbour’s towering, bare, magnolia tree is already flecked with tiny white buds; a sign of spring, even in the approaching barrenness of winter.
Over the past 12 months in OCMS we have seen so many signs of hope against the backdrop of ongoing Covid disruption:
– 20 new PhD scholars, representing the incredibly diverse voices of the global church
– 31 senior mission leaders fully engaged in the latest Integrated Mission Leadership programme, led by eight faculty, only one of whom is on staff in Oxford
– 19 new books published, including six in our mini-book series that takes the best of academic research and makes it available in easy-to-read, short format
– Four volumes of the peer-reviewed journal of Transformation, with over 85,000 full text downloads.
Encouraging as these things are, hope is revealed most strikingly in the perseverance and grace of many connected with OCMS. At times, the cold and darkness seem to tell us that ‘it will always be winter and never spring’. I think especially of our scholars, alumni and project partners who live in eastern Congo, Tigray in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Northern Nigeria, Myanmar, Nagaland, northern India, Pakistan and many other contexts. In addition to the disruptions and dangers of Covid, they have lived with indiscriminate violence, natural disaster, political pressure, economic downturn, hostility and opposition in ministry. We pray and pray with them in hope.
What motives us and them?
Earlier in the year I was leading a mission theology module for new PhD and Guided Research Programme scholars. I asked what scriptures had shaped their theology of mission. One from North India, having experienced suspicion and beatings that left him with broken limbs, responded in a flash, ‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.’ (Hab 2:14)
OCMS was founded in hope, confident in the purposes of God that one day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of his glory, the visible manifestation of God’s own character. This hope does not disappoint us because it depends on the work of God’s transforming, life-giving Spirit. Springtime is coming. Whatever your circumstances, I pray you will know God’s gift of hope.
Thank you for being part of OCMS through your prayer and support.
Together in Him,