Last month, I was privileged to visit London. Apart from looking up two nieces and a nephew, I gave a talk at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS) located at the fringe of Oxford University. I also spoke at the chapel service and gave a talk at the All Nations Christian College (ANCC) in Ware, to the north of London.
To my joy, I was able to meet up with Tom and Judy Harvey at Oxford. Tom has been serving as Academic Dean of OCMS since 2008. OCMS is an unique institution as its students come from all over the world but do not have to reside at Oxford during the several years that they take to complete their doctorate. This saves on their expense and yet they can take advantage of the excellent mission resources available at that world-famous University (Oxford began as a Christian institution seven centuries ago and today still has a good theological seminary). Today, the Christian world is quite different from what it was two hundred years ago when Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church began as the Malay chapel.
Two-thirds of Christians today are from Asia, Africa and Latin America, and Christian leaders are no longer mainly Europeans or Americans. The Executive Director of OCMS is a Korean and Tom as we all know was a missionary in China for many years and can speak better Chinese than many of us (including me). The students as well as most of its staff at OCMS are from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Global missions, however, requires the scholarship resources which western Christians have built up – which is why the founders of OCMS (including the well-known writer and speaker John Stott) chose to locate it in Oxford. The Asian, African and Latin Americans who study at OCMS go there because of the opportunity to relate to each other on “home” ground so to speak, since the Christian faith in their countries came largely from the United Kingdom at one time. The Oxford name also speaks for itself. The tutors do not come mainly from Oxford: they are drawn from all over the United Kingdom and also from the rest of the world. Officially, the doctorate they obtain is from Middlesex University. I pleasantly learned that the large building OCMS occupies cost only 20,000 pounds (S$42,000), much cheaper than any similar place in Singapore. It is formerly a church!
Let us support Tom and Judy in prayer and you can connect with him through [email protected]. The website of OCMS is http://www.ocms.ac.uk from where you can learn more about not only its students but also the many publications on mission which they put out every year. Tom was our Interim Moderator from 1999-2001 and lectured at Trinity Theological College, including to our Darryl Chan.
From OCMS, I was brought by Dr Stroma Beattie to All Nations Christian College. Stroma and her husband Warren worshipped at our church for the many years that they were OMF International missionaries, first teaching at the Discipleship Training Centre (where our Dr Eileen Poh now teaches) and then serving in the OMF headquarters in Cluny Road. Warren was in charge of missions research and Stroma was involved in medical care for the 1,400 plus missionaries in the OMF.
All Nations Christian College is a relatively inexpensive seminary (it is located in a former mansion handed down to a family member who became a missionary) with about 150 students every year, most of whom are focused on serving in Asia, Africa and Latin America, though some have an interest in Europe. Once again, it is the Christian world returning to England for there are many people from the rest of the world residing in the United Kingdom, either for study or work or just being home. England is as cosmopolitan as Singapore. If you want to be trained as a missionary in a cross-cultural context, you can actually meet peoples in England from different countries in the world. The website of All Nations is http://www.allnations.ac.uk/ where you can learn about the various activities that take place at the college.
There are of course students also from the United Kingdom and Stroma and Warren are themselves Scottish. However, they have spent the bulk of their adult lives abroad (first in Korea, then in Singapore) and so too the rest of the staff (the Director served in Sudan and a fellow lecturer served in Pakistan and Egypt). Warren teaches in the College on cross-cultural ministry while Stroma works part-time in the National Health Service.
Do pray for Stroma Beattie whom you can contact at [email protected] and Warren at [email protected]. We miss Warren for his playing of the recorder in our Prinsep Players. To both Stroma and Warren, and also Judy and Tom Harvey, we say thank you for continuing to make mission still global in the United Kingdom.
Elder Lee Soo Ann