One Mission Society
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One Mission Society (formerly known as OMS International and, before then, known as the Oriental Missionary Society) is an Evangelical Christian missionary society founded in 1901 by Charles and Lettie Cowman, Juji Nakada, and Ernest A. Kilbourne.
"OMS was birthed in a storefront building in the heart of 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. Before long, Japanese churches were organized, and the new association, the Japan Holiness Church (JHC), grew rapidly. Not long after their arrival, in 1902, Charles' former co-worker, first conversion, and best friend, Ernest Kilbourne, and his family, joined them.
Born on March 13, 1868, Charles E. Cowman grew up in the church, but he didn't accept the call to spread the Gospel until much later in life. At 15 Charles left home for a job in telegraphing, where he quickly impressed others with his ability. It was during this time that he would meet his future wife and develop a deep friendship that quickly turned to love. The couple would marry when she was just 19 and he 21.
After living in Colorado for one year of marriage to escape the noise of living in the city, they spent the next ten years in Chicago where Charles continued his work in telegraphy. It wasn't until 1894 that Charles finally accepted the call the Lord had placed on his heart from spreading the Gospel. Accepting this call lit a fire in Charles. He fervently tried to reach his coworkers one by one, and he found great success.
It wasn't long before Charles felt called to spread the Gospel in Japan. When he brought up this calling with Lettie, she told him that she had felt the same calling 6 weeks prior to his announcement.
Stepping out in faith and living financially through God's grace and provision, the couple moved to Japan in 1901 to partner with Juji Nakada.
Charles never lost his passion for reaching people, in fact, it only continued to get stronger. It weighed heavy on Charles that so many people still hadn't heard the Gospel, so he worked himself sick trying to reach everyone in Japan.
Eventually, he could go on no longer, and he went to be with the Lord on September 25, 1924.
Born on March 3, 1870, Lettie B. Cowman would meet her future husband for the first time when she was just a baby. But, when she was 13, and he was 15 they met again. Charles was living away from home for the first time and the two befriended each other. It soon become apparent that they were destined to be sweethearts. At ages 19 and 21, they married and moved to Colorado for their first year of marriage. After Lettie became severely ill, it was clear that they could no longer live in such a high altitude, so they spent the next 10 years of their marriage in Chicago.
After giving her life to Christ, she, along with her husband, felt a strong calling to reach the lost in Japan. Placing their faith in Jesus, they left to minister to the Japanese in 1901.
In later life, Lettie wrote Streams in the Desert about the hardships she experienced, specifically when Charles' health was rapidly declining. The book continues to be widely distributed even today.
When Charles passed, she found in his Bible a note addressed to her that said, "Go on with my unfinished task." Lettie did just that, continuing to give her life in service to Christ until she was finally able to meet Jesus and reunite with Charles in 1960 on April 17, at the age of 87.
Born on October 29, 1870, Juji Nakada was quite the rebellious youth prior to finding his faith. It is largely thanks to a life-long mentor, Reverend Yoichi Honda, that Juji went on to make the incredible impact for Christ that he did. Despite various challenges, Nakada would become a missionary who constantly surprised people. However, he reached a point in his life, where he simply felt dissatisfied with the ministry he was in, so he made the choice to go to America to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago to attempt to restore his faith. He promised his wife that if it didn't work he would give up on ministry and become a dentist instead. Through the grace of God, Nakada was able to reignite his passion for ministry. The Nakada who finally returned to his family in Japan was a new, more 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, so it was not surprising that they teamed up after Cowman was called to Japan in 1901. Together they would work to establish 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."
Nakada was a clear example of man reliant on God, and his ministry continued until the day he passed on to the Lord on September 24, 1939.
Ernest A. Kilbourne
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. With a passion for writing and traveling, he moved to New York at age 21 to fulfill this dream. After New York he spent time seeing the world, which included places like Australia, Europe, New Zealand, etc. After his world traveling, he settled for a very short time in Nevada and worked as a telegraph operator. In this time he fell in love with his future wife, Julia Pittinger. Soon after they were married, Kilbourne transferred to the Chicago office where he would meet Charles Cowman, the man responsible for his conversion.
During his time away from God, Kilbourne had lost a company a large sum of money due to his own misuse. After his conversion, he felt led to make a commitment to repay every cent that he lost the company. For this reason, Kilbourne could not leave for Japan with his good friends in 1901.
However, one year later, in 1902, he finally paid everything back and was able to head to Japan with his family to continue the work that had been started by the Cowman's and Nakada.
Kilbourne remained faithful to the end. When Cowman passed away, he became the second president of the organization. But, only four short years later, in 1928, Kilbourne went to be with the Lord as well.
In November 1902, Kilbourne, who had a passion for journalism, 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.
In early 1903, they outgrew their first building, but, as a new organization, they had no money to buy new facilities. They came together and received a strong conviction from God that He was in control of the situation. Thus, without a single penny for a new facility, they started searching for something bigger. When they found the perfect new location, they began the work to build, relying fully on God's provision. As the time drew close for them to make their third payment, a sum of $2,000, they did not have the money. They stayed in a constant state of prayer until, just as the day was ending and the men were expecting payment, they received news that the cable office had received $2,000 for their use. God provided just in time.
The Great Village Campaign
The OMS founders began the Great Village Campaign in 1913 because of the burden they had on their heart regarding all of the unsaved people of Japan. The goal was to reach every person in Japan with the Gospel in five years. With a population of 58 million people, this was no small task. Despite a series of set-backs for Cowman, largely health issues from the strenuous work, the project was completed thanks to the dedicated teams of missionaries that were passionately reaching into the many cities of Japan. When the campaign was completed in 1918, the Cowman's were in America due to Charles' health issues, but nonetheless, some 60 million Japanese had been reached with the Gospel.
After regaining his health, Cowman traveled to tell the miraculous story that was The Great Village Campaign, but his health forced him to stop traveling. He spent many of his final years in great physical pain, but you would never hear him complain. In early 1924 he signed over the OMS bank books to his friend Kilbourne and a businessman named Clark.
Before long, OMS was reaching more and more people in more and more countries. Over the course of more than 100 years, OMS began work in approximately 77 countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Romania, Spain, Colombia, Haiti, Israel, Canada, and more.
Today OMS partners with 180+ denominations and organizations for the purpose of seeing the Gospel spread to every area of the world, making disciples through evangelism, and glorifying God in every word said and every action one. This is done in the hope of fulfilling Christ's Great Commission
One Mission Society seeks to fulfill their mission through intentional evangelism, church planting, training of leaders, and forming strategic partnerships. Through the work of OMS, someone comes to know Christ every 31 seconds, on average. This is possible because of the more than 6,000 churches that are planted every year, the spreading of the Gospel in 45+ languages, and with the help of 14,000+ indigenous coworkers.
- Erny, Edward and Esther. No Guarantee but God. OMS International.
- Streams in the Desert