Category: News

Press Release: OCI and UWM

Nov. 8, 2017

Merger Brings Leadership Development Organizations Together to Further Serve Global Church

United World Mission to assume leadership of Overseas Council International, uniting formal and non-formal training efforts that help equip thousands.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Two organizations with a long history of helping grow and strengthen the global church through training and leadership development are joining forces to maximize their impact.

The merger will bring Overseas Council International (OCI,, based in Indianapolis, under the leadership of United World Mission (UWM,, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The two groups have played a largely behind-the-scenes role in equipping thousands of missionaries, pastors, church planters and lay people over the past 70 years. Each emphasizes the development of indigenous leaders for effective ministry in their communities and nations. By uniting they expect to expand their reach and deepen their impact.

Founded in 1946 when a group of Ohio churches united to collaborate for global mission, UWM today has 400 staff serving more than 100 national partners in 48 countries. With an emphasis on non-formal methods, UWM makes ministry training accessible and reproducible to people that are outside the reach of formal efforts.

Established in 1974 by a group of businessmen in Indianapolis to raise funds to support Korean seminary students, OCI—or Overseas Council—today serves 130 partner schools in 70 countries which equip almost 60,000 students annually. Its focus is on formal theological education for Christian leaders who can equip and influence the church.

The combined organization will be headquartered in Charlotte, with OCI functioning under the name Overseas Council (OC), a Ministry of United World Mission.

“This move makes sense at so many levels,” said Dr. John Bernard, president of UWM. “We share many of the same values, even as we carry out ministry in distinct ways. We anticipate synergies that will lead to greater impact in both formal and non-formal ministry training. Beyond economic efficiencies, strategies, and aligned mission statements, we believe this merger enables us to better reflect the unity of Christ’s body on mission together.”

Scott Cunningham, OCI’s interim president and CEO, said that he believed the merger would be a “God-glorifying combination for the expansion of leadership development for the health of the global church, accomplishing more together, by God’s grace, than we ever could separately.”

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About United World Mission

Founded in 1946, United World Mission (UWM, exists to develop well-trained, spiritually-formed leaders, and to strengthen and multiply disciple-making churches that proclaim and demonstrate the gospel.  They fulfill this mission by partnering with the church around the world. Currently UWM’s 400 staff serve more than 100 national partners in more than 48 countries. 

About Overseas Council International

Established in 1974 to provide Korean seminary student scholarships, Overseas Council ( has since grown into the largest leadership development ministry of its kind in the world. Under the banner “Called. Trained. Multiplied,” Overseas Council now “equips Christian leaders by partnering with vital seminaries worldwide to advance God’s kingdom.”

CUTLINE: FUSBC (Biblical Seminary of Colombia) in Medellín, Colombia, is one of the Christian leadership institutions with which Overseas Council (OC) and United World Mission (UWM) have partnered to help raise up and equip indigenous church leaders—work that continues as OC and UWM merge to maximize their efforts.


Little Taste of Heaven

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you felt like you experienced a little taste of heaven?  I had a moment like that recently when I traveled to Denmark.  I went with the goal of finding more opportunities for missionaries to serve alongside our Danish church partners.  While that goal was met, I also experienced a memorable day of connecting with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from many different nations.


It was a Sunday and I visited 3 unique churches in Copenhagen.  We worshipped God in Danish and English with people from over 30 countries.  I remember thinking, “Heaven is going to be so cool to be with people from every part of the world and to worship God together”!

I was warmly welcomed at each church, making the stranger (me) feel at home far away from my home.  As I think back about the diverse family of God that I encountered that day I was encouraged with their expression of love through their hospitality and kindness. The Holy Spirit also brought a verse to my mind that is in John 13:5, “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   What a difference in my life it was to have that lived out that day and I pray God continues to give me a deeper love for those he brings my way as well.

By: Jennifer Coshow, Mobilizer for Europe & Business Manager

Lessons Learned

This brief summer in Charlotte interning at United World Mission has gone by too fast. I came to UWM thinking I would be inputting data into a financial program and testing new systems. I have done both of these and more. The staff here has found plenty of things for me to do, if the opportunity presents itself I would like to continue helping out in the future.

UWM’s Chief Financial Officer asked me to create a cost of living estimator. It counts how many people want to go on a mission trip, where they want to go and for how long. It can factor in retirement, loans, education, health insurance and specific ministry expenses. Then, it creates a categorical budget by month and year and the whole cost a mission trip. There are also three option you can choose from, basic to live like a local, moderate to live like an American and quality to live the highest quality of life according to the UN database. The purpose of this application is to provide a quick glance of how much missionaries need to raise in support and that they are not forced raise too much.

The main purpose for coming to UWM was to help out the financial department. Each day I check to see if our missionaries emailed their expense reports and that they are approved. Then, I save and file them away ready to be reimbursed. Make sure you put your project number on your expense reports!

Though, the biggest time saver is the custom made macros I made for almost everyone. The macros take raw data out of the financial program on to an excel spreadsheet and correct the format into neat tables, totals or charts. To my surprise macros run on visual basic which is the only programming class I ever took. I did not find it appealing at all, but now I am grateful I took it. Now it gives me great joy to see the finished macros saving the staff from mind-numbing hours of data manipulation.

Through this whole time being here, I have learned what exactly it takes to be a missionary. You need money in your bank account, a home church with hundreds of people praying for God’s protection in your life and small achievable goals. However, that is just the prerequisites, once you are on the field it’s all in God’s hands. It is God, The Holy Spirit, who brings men and women into the body of Christ and we the body, are the hands and feet that carry Jesus’ message of salvation.

By: Phillipe Ma, Serving as a Summer Intern in the Charlotte, NC office.

Big Fan

I’m a big fan of books, tv, movies and hanging out with friends. To sum it up, I love a good story in any way that I can get it. That is also my favorite part of my job – listening and sharing God stories.

As both a Mobilizer and the Communications Coordinator at United World Mission I have the privilege of hearing God’s stories unfold in a variety of ways.  Stories from the lives of people he is calling into missions, stories from people who are serving around the globe to stories where people are seeing God answer prayer, and stories of people who are hearing of Christ’s love for the first time.

A recent story happened as I was working with a young couple who were feeling called into long-term, international missionary service.  They had been through the process with another agency but was declined due to potential educational issues with their newly adopted son.

As we went through the mobilization process a few possible places around the world began to seem like good opportunities for them.  It was decided that Scotland was where they would like to serve based off their giftings, passions, experiences coupled with the opportunity and needs there.  During their interview they shared with the interview team that they are from Tennessee, which the Regional Leaders for Europe also had connections to TN. They quickly discovered that the Regional Leader’s daughter was the social worker in their case for the adoption of their son!   What a small world and awesome confirmation from God that He was at work in bringing them into this role with United World Mission.

I love seeing how God weaves stories together.  It encourages me to trust Him more and I hope it does for you too!

By: Jennifer Coshow, Mobilizer for Europe & Communications Coordinator

Your Story

Talk to a Coach today and share your story with us. We love to hear how God is at work in you and connect you to what he is doing around the world. Let us help you Engage Your World.

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Staff Playlist of Worship Songs

Our first value is to Seek God First and with that in mind we decided to make a Staff Playlist of our favorite worship videos for you to enjoy.

Rilla: HR & Finance Manager

Cheryl: Finance Assistant

Desiree: Donation Support Specialist

Bill: Volunteer Finance Assistant

Wendy: Director of Mobilization

Callie: Mobilizer for Latin America

Jennifer: Business Manager & Mobilizer for Europe

Spanky: Mobilizer for Africa

Jordan: Mobilizer for North America & Coach

Robin: Mobilizer for Avance

Amanda: Business Operations Analyst

Esteem Them Very Highly in Love

Partnership is a word that would very well sum up our (almost) 5 years in Budapest.  Soon after we landed in December of 2011, we began to attend a church called Agóra that had been planted the year before.  The two pastors who planted it, Trey Shaw (IMB) and Hamar Dávid, asked me (Ben) to join them as the 3rd leader in July of 2012.  Since then, I have served in a variety of roles depending on the needs of the church.  Most recently, and perhaps the best fit so far, has been the Steward of the church and Manager of its space, a community center called the Forum.


In these years we have interacted with many Hungarians, and several of them have become very dear to us.  This probably resonates with many of you, connecting with nationals in your own context.  One of these Hungarians is a young woman called Kata.  We met Kata about two years ago when soon after visiting the church, she began to sing on the worship team.  She and a few of the other worship team members were invited to our home for supper, hospitality being a big part of our ministry.  Our firstborn hit it off with her right away, something that hadn’t yet happened between him and a stranger!  She was warm and friendly that evening and every other time we interacted with her.


Last March, we heard that she had quit her job and was looking for work.  I was beginning to wind down my activities at Agóra and the Forum in preparation of our summer return to the USA.  I had a very long to-do list that seemed impossible to complete at any level.  I approached Kata about assisting me for the last 6 weeks we had.  We were also looking for a new babysitter, and she agreed to watch the boys for a few mornings each week in addition to helping me.  To say that she was a life-saver would be an understatement.  She helped me accomplish 10x more than I would have alone, and allowed Megan to have an occasional break that every Mom needs.  We grew closer to her, and were able to pray for her a few times.

In conversation with Trey, one of the pastors, we learned that she had been discussing with him her questions on some deep, theological issues.  I was able to share with him something Kata had recently told me, “I love Agóra, I love my boss, and it is YOU!”  Agóra is a place for healing in Christ and a big part of that is being a safe space for questions.  Hungarians are highly intellectual and so group discussion has always been a strong part of our DNA.  Kata felt safe enough to share her concerns, to ask her questions, and she wasn’t mocked or shamed as she likely would have been elsewhere in Hungarian society.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.  But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.  Live in peace with one another,”

This is what we did for Kata.  It didn’t seem like much, simply thanking her often for her help, and letting her know how valuable she was to us and to the church.  It’s not just Kata, though.  From our pastor, Dávid, to the other members of the worship team, to the leaders in the church, they all labor diligently.  It is our joy and privilege to get to know these people, to love on them, to feed them on occasion, and to esteem them VERY highly in love.  That is what we should all do for our partners, because many times their own society does not.

By: Ben Naylor, Serving in Hungary

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A New Kind of Partnership

I am a Thai-Chinese American, born and raised in New York City, and by God’s grace, I have been called to serve in Christ as a missionary. I love the city.  Presently, I serve in a city of over 12 million people.  Just ~0.5% of the population identify themselves as a followers of Christ.  More people are being prostituted than are worshipping God.  A little over 400 churches exist in this global city.  So many more churches need to be planted.  This city is Bangkok, Thailand.

When I think about partnership in this great city, I have mixed feelings.  We just finished our first term on the field, and I have to be honest and say that it is critical that the Thai church have partnership, but the majority of oversea churches, organizations, and ministries who are partnering with Thai Christians come with their own agendas and goals.

Over and over again, my observations show me that after the initial excitement of starting something new, they must soon face the realities and difficulties of ministry in the city.  Partnerships quickly dissolve and the Thai church is left weaker and more disillusioned.  I hate to say this, but I feel like my people, my Thai brothers and sisters in Christ have fallen victim to spiritual prostitution.  Therefore, it is so important that we approach partnerships with understanding, humility, and faithfulness.  I want to share an example of partnership that has me excited and has become my main focus and work.

My family landed in Bangkok over three years ago, and partnered with a local church that was planted over 20+ years ago.  It was originally a college ministry turned church plant and that transition proved to be difficult.  We felt our ministry directed towards pastoral care and church revitalization.  After three years, we realized our efforts could not reverse the problems surrounding the church. But starting in January 2016, a unique partnership was established.

retreatA church in center city Bangkok whose focus is on a Gospel movement of churches in the city, offered us a fascinating proposal.  With a deep understanding and knowledge of our university campus church, the church in center city Bangkok offered a season of Sabbath.  Simply put, this meant we would merge temporarily and later replant our university campus church.  This offer provided rest, resources, leadership, and re-envisioning with no strings attached, except that this partnership would result in a replant.  I became one of the leaders at the church in center city Bangkok in the transition.

baptismThis experiment has been very encouraging.  Members of our university campus church, who showed no interest to serve, now desire to lead.  Over and over again we hear people confess how sweet the Gospel of Grace is and how it has transformed their lives.  New structures and leadership have been established with unanimous support.  From a sullen and tired atmosphere, the church is excited, committed, and hopeful of the future.  We anticipate launching our university campus church in late 2017.


So what has this unique experience taught me about partnership?

  • The goal must be the Gospel in understanding and expansion.
  • Clear intentionality and purpose must be communicated.
  • There must be clarity on both sides of expectations and benefits.
  • A clear sacrifice must be made on both sides to establish the partnership.
  • Time and flexibility are keys to ongoing success.
  • Trust and mutual submission to one another must be exercised for Christ’s glory.


By: Rawee, Serving in Thailand

Please Pray With US

1. Continued growth in the leadership and members of our church.
2. Blessing and guidance over details of our church replant.
3. To witness a Gospel-Centered Church Movement in Thailand.

Love in Action – Refugee Camps in Greece

From the beginning of the “refugee crisis,” churches and ministries in Greece were restricted from sharing the “hope within us” as we lovingly cared for the physical needs at the various refugee camps around the city. We watched thousands pass by us, hoping they would hear about Jesus along the way.

The wake-up for us came when the first bombing happened in Paris and we learned that one of the bombers came through two camps here in Greece where we (Evangelical churches and ministries) served, yet he never heard from us that Jesus loved him and wanted to fill and heal his hurting soul. It was then we felt God calling us to have a safe place where they can come, and we can “show and tell” freely.

Immediately, God began bringing churches and individuals to us who could provide  the resources needed to create the center.  In June 2016, The Alliance Relief Refugee Care Center was opened just south of the center of Athens, Greece.

The purpose of the center is to show the love of Christ to recent refugee families stuck in Athens, providing practical help (showers, laundry, Internet, childcare, language classes, counseling, medical check-ups, refreshments) in a comfortable and safe environment, while intentionally looking for opportunities to share the story of the Gospel with those who are seeking.

We are open 8-hours a day; three days a week for Farsi-speaking families and three days a week for Arabic-speaking families. On Sunday the center is open to be used for churches or small groups that are birthed from the week, currently hosting a Farsi church of 70 believers and growing.


We believe God is going to reach many refugees through the center and we want to see many disciple-making disciples be sent into Europe through us!

By: Alan & Whitney Brown, Serving in Greece


Please pray for volunteers to come through out the year, for open hearts among the refugees and protection over them and us as they become disciple-making disciples here in Athens and around the world. 

Training Latin Leaders

Global Perspective: Forming Church Leaders to Turn Growth into Maturity

The days when Evangelicals in Colombia were ignored or marginalized as an insignificant minority are gone. The exponential growth of evangelicals in the country—as in the rest of Latin America—has brought a dramatic change in the religious sociological landscape. We have become a significant minority with presence in all spheres of society.  This opens doors of opportunity to serve in the name of Christ and also poses huge challenges to the church. A key question is: How do we take the opportunities and face the challenges so that numerical growth turns into maturity and God glorifying fruit, and does not become only demographical data?

Training Sunday school teachers
Training Sunday School Teachers

Lively worship, massive events, successful church planting, generous sharing, and even social acceptance do not sustain healthy growth. Otherwise the New Testament could have stopped in Acts chapter 2, with the narrative of Pentecost, and an attachment: a logistics manual on how to reproduce it in different cultural settings around the Roman world of the first century.

Biblical exposition conference
Biblical exposition conference

For 72 years the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (FUSBC) has participated in the formation of leaders for the evangelical church in Colombia and other Spanish speaking churches around the world.  We have come to appreciate more and more at least three key elements that the New Testament shows are foundational for the sustained health of the church:

  1. Rooting people in the Scriptures
  2. Expressing your faith in your context
  3. Articulating your faith in your own voice

These give focus to what we do at FUSBC through our programs: B.A. in Theology (residential and on-line), Graduate Degree in Christian World View and Ethics, Ministerial  Institute of Medellin (Bible Institute), Continued education (non-formal), and Prison Bible institutes.

  1. Rooting people in the truth

Jovanny, a pastor’s son,  came from a small town. Upon graduation, his denomination appointed him to pastor in his hometown. The congregation did not want him; he was young, inexperienced. But after they received his humble and effective teaching of the Scriptures, nurturing them in the truth and shepherding them into obedience to that truth in their day to day situations, they came to love him. People enjoy enthusiastic worship, but they treasure more shepherding, rooted in God’s Word so they grow spiritually into maturity.

  1. Expressing the faith in your context

Jovanni took all the traditional seminary courses on biblical interpretation, church history, theology, preaching, etc. In these courses, he was challenged to connect what happened in the classroom with what was happening in our country.

During the worst days of the drugs cartel wars in Medellin, the Seminary developed a course on the Church in situations on violence. Today, when more than 10% of the Colombian population are internally displaced, faculty at FUSBC are working with churches, scholars from other countries and displaced communities on a research project focusing on Theology and Displacement. At the same time, another team is working on a course on Christians as agents of peace and reconciliation, and yet  another group teaches on Pastoral care of women. When seminary professors, students and graduates root their teaching and service in the Scriptures and connect it with the context, the church is nurtured into maturity.

Prof. Mejía rural church
Prof. Mejía at a rural church
  1. Articulating your faith in your own voice

An avid reader, Jovanni was always asking why the seminary library did not have more books written by Latin American evangelical authors or, at least, from a Latin American perspective. To this day, most literature used in theological education in the majority world comes from other contexts. Writing for a seminary professor in Latin America is a major challenge: you do not get paid sabbaticals or research assistants. In spite of this, one of the leaders of a major publishing project from and for the evangelical church in Latin America told me recently: FUSBC is the single major contributor of authors (faculty and graduates)  to this project. Another one of our graduates articulates his faith for the church and the un-churched through his music which is known all over the continent. When the church articulates the truth in her own voice, for her own context, it is growing into maturity.

Prof. Hays and studens

A mature church is one that remains faithful. The Biblical Seminary of Colombia focuses in theological education leaders to that end.  Among our graduates are a great number of pastors, presidents of denominations and faith-based organizations in the country and at a global scale.  While some have reached positions of renown, the service of most may never be recognized beyond their neighborhoods. However, they are those who have nurtured believers in the truth all over Colombia and in other Latin American countries, as well as planted churches among Latin American immigrants in the United States and Europe.

By: Elizabeth Sendek, Serving in Colombia as Director of the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (FUSBC)


Turn numerical growth into maturity by contributing to the ministry of the Biblical Seminary of Colombia. Designate your gift to:
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The ASK…ministry or a burden?

I have been involved in missions for over three decades, and in that time I have personally found that one of the biggest hurdles for people raising support is the Ask. Most people are afraid to ask or don’t know how to ask for support. Unfortunately, a lot of times, we treat support raising “as a necessary but unpleasant activity to support spiritual things. If God has called you into ministry support raising is first and foremost a form of ministry.”

When I first started raising support, I had this attitude towards support raising too. In the early 1980s, I attended the Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment (ACMC) National Conference. I listened and learned a lot. The next year I was asked to be a board member and the following year to be the first field staff. My wife and I were thrilled at the thought of serving the Lord and helping churches fulfill the Great Commission. Once the excitement wore off, though, I realized we had to raise support.

My first support-raising letter to individuals resulted in only $25. Thank goodness, my home church took on 30%!  Since I was working with churches, I felt they should support me, so I started ASKING them to support us. Some said no because I was not going overseas, but several did support us. Over the next 3 years, we reached our goal with a lot of help from one missions pastor, in particular, and from several prayer warriors.

spirituality fundraisingI recently picked up a booklet by Henri Nouwen entitled “The Spirituality of Fund Raising”. If I had read that book when I started raising support, it would have been a different ball game. God gave me a passion for helping churches, but I lost that passion when it came to ASKING for money. Like many others, I saw support raising as a “necessary but unpleasant activity” instead of part of my ministry.

Most of us are afraid to ASK. Let me give you an example. The CEO of ACMC asked me to invite a wealthy friend to lunch with the idea of asking him to support a project. We met at his country club. My boss talked about everything, and my friend joined in. They talked for almost an hour and no ask. I nearly died. My CEO was a wonderful, godly man, a graduate of West Point and a high-ranking officer. But, he was afraid to ask.

Conversely, when you aren’t afraid to ask, God can move in big ways. Two years later we hired a development person. I was asked to take my friend to lunch with our development person. After lunch and some conversation, I was asked to tell about a project. The next thing I knew our fundraiser asked for $20,000. My friend said he would let us know. Within a week we had $15,000.

Webster’s dictionary gives seven different definitions for the word ask. The one I like says, “to invite”. Henri J.M. Nouwen puts it this way, “Support raising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” I challenge you to view support raising in this light, as a ministry instead of a burden, and don’t be afraid to ask. You’ll never know how God will work unless you do.

*All quotes are from The Spirituality of Fund-Raising by Henri J.M. Nouwen

By: Tom Telford, Missionary & Author with UWM and ACMC

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