Oriental Mission Society
- The Oriental Mission Society (now OMS International) was founded in 1901 by Holiness missionaries Charles E. Cowman (1864-1924), and his wife Lettie B. Cowman (1876-1960), members of the Pilgrim Holiness Church (now a constituent part of the Wesleyan Church). The Cowmans supported the model proposed by Methodist bishop William Taylor, who aimed to found self-sufficient indigenous churches in the mission field. As they were preparing for missionary service, the couple met Japanese student Juji Nakada (1870-1936) at Moody Bible Institute in 1897-98. He became a cofounder of OMS and was largely responsible for Japan becoming the first field of operation. In Chicago, they also encountered E. A. Kilbourne (1865-1928), a telegrapher, who became the fourth cofounder of OMS.Nakada returned to Japan in 1898, and the Cowmans joined him in 1901. Kilbourne arrived in 1902. Nakada and the Cowmans established a center where they held services every evening and trained coworkers during the day. Kilbourne founded a periodical, Electric Messages. By 1912, they had developed enough support to launch an expansive effort called the Every Creature Crusade. Over the next six years, workers with the mission attempted to contact every home in Japan with some Gospel literature. As the work grew, they expanded their operation to China and Korea.Following the death of her husband in 1924 and then Kilbourne in 1928, Lettie Cowman became the president of OMS and led it for the next 21 years. She retired in 1949. Her devotional book, Streams in the Desert (1925), has become a Holiness classic.The early work evolved into the Japan Holiness Church. Since World War II OMS has expanded into more than 30 countries and is no longer focused exclusively on Asia.Further reading:■ Lettie B. Cowman, Charles E. Cowman: Missionary Warrior (Los Angeles: Oriental Missionary Society, 1928); , Streams in the Desert (Los Angeles: Oriental Missionary Society, 1925)■ R. D. Wood, In These Mortal Hands: The Story of the Oriental Missionary Society: The First 50 Years (Greenwood, Ind.: OMS International, 1983).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.
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