Transition at OCMS

A letter from Thomas Harvey, mission specialist serving in the United Kingdom

November 2016

Write to Tom Harvey: tharvey@ocms.ac.uk

Individuals: Give online to E200358 for Tom Harvey’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D506421 for Tom Harvey’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

Dear Friends and Supporters,

It has been an exciting, challenging, and fruitful year at The Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. 2016 brought a significant change of the guard as Dr. Paul Bendor-Samuel took up the reins as executive director. Son of missionary parents, Paul and his wife, Liz, served for many years as missionary doctors in Tunisia. Later Paul was appointed international director of Interserve, a ministry that matches professionals to mission work around the globe. Paul is a good fit at OCMS as a result of his rich experience in mission, informed practical engagement, and as the holder of two theological degrees.

During the transition Tom was effectively both the acting executive director and academic dean while Dr. Wonsuk Ma introduced Paul to OCMS’s key global partners in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the U.S.A. During this time Tom guided the OCMS academic team through a full accreditation review and led a successful search for two new faculty: Marina Behera of Mizoram, India, and Kim Haewon of Korea will join OCMS in January 2017. Also, he served on the leadership team of the consortium on faith, public integrity and development. In September, OCMS hosted a consultation that brought together church and mission leaders battling corruption and its devastating effects around the globe.

The Global Impact of OCMS Scholar Leaders
One of the key delegates at the OCMS conference was Elisama Daniel, the former commissioner of the Southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission and a research student with OCMS. He led an investigation that exposed Western development agencies and members of the Sudanese government who were siphoning off money that had been earmarked for development and education. His investigation led to death threats.

Rather than give up the fight, Elisama has continued to speak out and to use his research at OCMS as a weapon against corruption in South Sudan. Before he left for OCMS a tank shell exploded outside Elisama’s bedroom. Luckily it struck a tree and only knocked him to the floor. Covered in the plaster with his ears ringing from the blast, Elisama was struck down but not killed, and he is all the more resolute to work for the peace and integrity of his church, his people, and his nation.

OCMS student Tsehaywota Taddesse grew up a shepherd boy in rural Ethiopia. His father taught him to read and do simple mathematics, and this instilled in Tsehay a deep love of learning. At the age of 10 an Ethiopian literacy campaign opened the door for Tsehay to pursue his dream. He learned to write and was allowed to attend school for the first time. He pressed on to gain a Bachelor of Science degree in geology and then a Master’s degree in child development. Tsehay never forgot his roots, however. He joined Compassion International, a Christian aid agency dedicated to serving those on the margins of society. He rose to become country director and has been committed to bringing education to disadvantaged children. His research examines the crucial role churches play in Ethiopia in bringing education, hope, and opportunity to those in need.

Latest on the Harveys
Judy taught English to overseas students in Oxford over the summer and in September began a Christian counseling programme of study to enhance her ministry at St. Andrews Church in Oxford. Pray for Judy as she begins her study and maintains her active leadership in the ministry of St. Andrews Church. We celebrated a gala 60th birthday party for Tom! The theme was Tom’s love of fedoras, and nearly 50 hatted people basked in glorious sunshine and feasted on ice cream sundaes in our garden.

Emma served as resident dean of St. Clare’s, an International Baccalaureate school in Oxford. In the fall she began her M.A. programme in Reformed History at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Please keep her in your prayers. Paul spent the summer in North Carolina with his fiancé Caitlin to plan their wedding in July 2017 and will spend the year working in Dubai. Prayers for them as they plan for their lives together. Joe and Susan are settled in well in Boulder, Colorado.

Prayer Items for OCMS
We thank you for your ongoing prayers for God’s mission at Oxford, which extends to God’s world. Please pray for the transition period at OCMS. Pray also for our students from nations such as Pakistan, Syria, Congo, and South Sudan, that they may be free from harassment and violence. Do keep OCMS in your prayers. To those of you who have committed to financially partner with us, we extend a wholehearted thank you! If you have not yet committed financially to the mission of preparing the world’s Christian leaders, especially in the Two-Thirds World nations, now would be a wonderful time to begin. Please come alongside us by contributing as God leads to Tom’s sending and support.

OCMS Research That is Making a Difference
Elisama and Tseshay are only two of the 120 researchers who have come to study at OCMS. Unlike most research programmes, nearly all OCMS students continue their ministry even as they pursue their Ph.D. degrees. For six weeks they come to Oxford, where they meet with their research supervisors, present their findings in seminars, and then return home to work, applying their research to the real-life issues they face. This mode works well with our students, for most come from nations in the Two-Thirds World and don’t have the financial resources most of us take for granted. They overcome great odds to complete their degrees at OCMS, and the rate of completion for students earning a degree is well above the UK benchmark. The significance of their research is also now recognised internationally.

OCMS is an amazing institution that is working to assist mission agencies, missionaries and church leaders globally, and we are deeply grateful for your faithful prayers and financial support. By supporting Tom’s position, you support students like Elisama and Tsehay, because all the funds we raise for Tom’s position as Academic Dean frees OCMS to dedicate its resources for scholarship assistance.

Join us as we keep Elisama and Tsehay, and the rest of our dedicated students, in our prayers as they go about their important work of building up the Kingdom of God.

Blessings,

Tom and Judy

Please read this important message from Tony De La Rosa, Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1b-2, NRSV)

Dear Friend of the Presbyterian Mission Agency:

Thank you for your prayers and for your financial support of Tom Harvey this year, and any previous year. We hear from our mission co-workers how much your prayerful financial support has meant to them. Please know that you are a vital part of ministries throughout the United Kingdom.

Even as I thank you, I want to let you know that this is a critical time for our congregations and all people of faith to commit themselves to support mission co-workers like Tom. Our global church partners greatly value his service, and you well know how important this ministry is in building connections between the body of Christ in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

We have historically relied on endowment interest and the general offering from congregations to sustain the vital work of all of our mission workers. Those sources of funding have greatly diminished. It is only through the gifts of individuals and congregations that we are able to keep Tom doing the life-giving work God called him to do. A year ago, in May 2015, we had to recall some mission workers due to a lack of funding. World Mission communicated the challenge to you, and you responded decisively and generously. Through your response, we heard the Spirit remind us, “Fear not!”

Today, I’m asking you to consider an additional gift for this year, and to increase the gift you may consider for 2017. Sending and support costs include not only salary but also health insurance and retirement contributions, orientation, language training, housing, travel to the country of service, children’s education, emergency evacuation costs, and visa/passport costs.

My heartfelt thanks for your prayers and support of our Presbyterian mission co-workers. In the coming season, we will celebrate God’s sending of the Christ child, the source of the good news we share. May you experience anew the hope, peace, joy, and love that are ours because “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18).

Thank you for saying “yes” to love.

With you in Christ,

Tony De La Rosa
Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?