One Mission Society

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One Mission Society (formerly known as Oriental Missionary Society and OMS International) is an Evangelical Christian missionary society founded in 1901 by Charles and Lettie Cowman, Juji Nakada, and Ernest A. Kilbourne.


OMS was founded in a storefront building in Tokyo, Japan. In 1901, American missionaries Charles and Lettie Cowman partnered with a Japanese pastor, Juji Nakada, holding Christian evangelistic meetings for 2,000 consecutive nights. Japanese churches were organized, and the new association, the Japan Holiness Church (JHC), grew rapidly.[1] Not long after their arrival, in 1902, Charles' former co-worker, first conversion, and best friend, Ernest Kilbourne, and his family, joined them.


Charles Cowman

Charles Cowman[edit]

Born on March 13, 1868, Charles E. Cowman grew up in the church. At 15, he left home for a job in telegraphing. He met and married Lettie Cowman when she was 19 and he, 21.

After living in Colorado for one year of marriage, they spent the next ten years in Chicago where Charles continued his work in telegraphy. In 1894 that Charles began his work as a missionary, preaching to coworkers.[2]

The Cowmans moved to Japan in 1901 to partner with Juji Nakada.

Lettie Cowman

Lettie Cowman[edit]

Born on March 3, 1870, Lettie B. Cowman met her future husband for the first time when she was a baby, and met again as teenagers.

In later life, Lettie wrote Streams in the Desert[3] about the hardships she experienced, specifically when Charles' health was rapidly declining.

She died in 1960 on April 17, at the age of 87.

Juji Nakada and Wife

Juji Nakada[edit]

Born on October 29, 1870, Juji Nakada was a rebellious youth. His decision to enter missionary work was influenced by a life-long mentor, Reverend Yoichi Honda.[2] Nakada went to America, to attend the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He returned to Japan was as a mature evangelist. Cowman, who had chosen to help financially support Nakada, received news of the mass conversions Nakada was a part of.

Cowman and Nakada had a similar idea of what they thought ministry should look like, and established the Tokyo Bible Institute, with Nakada to serve as the first president. The institute was used for classes during the day and evangelism in the evenings.

"It was not surprising that he was sometimes charged with being domineering, even dictatorial. But by the great majority of Christians, both laymen and clergy, he was held in respect that approached awe."[2]

Nakada died on September 24, 1939.

Ernest Kilbourne and family

Ernest A. Kilbourne[edit]

Ernest A. Kilbourne was born on March 13, 1865, in Ontario. Kilbourne was brought up in a Methodist home, but after moving to the United States while still in his teens to work for the Western Union, his religious upbringing was quickly forgotten. He moved to New York at age 21. After New York he traveled to Australia, Europe and New Zealand, and settled for a very short time in Nevada, where he worked as a telegraph operator. He met his future wife, Julia Pittinger. Soon after they were married, Kilbourne transferred to the Chicago office where he met Charles Cowman, who was responsible for his conversion.

In 1902, he went to Japan with his family to continue the work that had been started by the Cowmans and Nakada.

When Cowman passed away, he became the second president of the organization. Kilbourne died in 1928.

Electric Messages

Electric Messages[edit]

In November 1902, Kilbourne started Electric Messages, a monthly periodical that detailed what they were accomplishing and encouraged others to donate to the cause. This was later called The O.M.S. Standard before being changed to its current name, OMS Outreach. Lettie Cowman was the active writer for these publications for many years.

The Great Village Campaign[edit]

The OMS founders began the Great Village Campaign in 1913. The goal was to reach every person in Japan with the Gospel in five years. When the campaign was completed in 1918, the Cowmans were in America due to Charles' health issues.

After regaining his health, Cowman traveled to promote The Great Village Campaign, but his health forced him to stop traveling. He spent his final years in great physical pain. In early 1924 he signed over the OMS bank books to Kilbourne and a businessman named Clark.


In the last 100 years, OMS began work in approximately 77 countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Romania, Spain, Colombia, Haiti, Israel and Canada.

Today OMS partners with 180+ denominations and organizations.[4]

One Mission Society seeks to fulfill their mission through intentional evangelism, church planting, training of leaders, and forming strategic partnerships. More than 6,000 churches are planted every year, with the help of 14,000+ indigenous coworkers in 45 languages.[4]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Erny, Edward and Esther. No Guarantee but God. OMS International.
  3. ^ Streams in the Desert
  4. ^ a b

External links[edit]