March 10, 2008
Two values essential to OBU are community and outreach. Over the next two decades OBU will combine these two ideals in their outreach efforts with the Kai people.
The Kai people are one of the largest unreached and unengaged people groups in the world. In 2006, OBU adopted this fishing community with hope that through practical and spiritual outreach, the Kai people will no longer be unreached or unengaged.
Finishing the Task, a collaboration of mission organizations dedicated engaging people groups which have had no Christian witness, helped initiate contact between OBU and the Kai people.
"They were able to connect us with nationals in South Asia," said OBU global outreach coordinator (name has been omitted for security purposes). "We have joined them with what they are doing. The nationals know the Kai's pattern of life, so we follow their lead."
The nationals, local church planters and believers, are emerged in the Kai's life style and provide guidance to OBU on how to connect with the Kai people. With the nationals' help, OBU teams have developed relationships with the Kai and have been accepted into their culture.
"They are super flexible and relational. When people show up it is an event, everything is dropped for them," said OBU global outreach coordinator. "It could be foreigners or even someone from out of town. Life is a lot slower when there are guests."
This warm welcome motivates the OBU teams in their work. OBU committed to maintain their outreach with the Kai until 2025. Through the interaction, OBU hopes to provide the Kai with resources to benefit their community.
"We want to continue working with the Kai until there is active church planting and the Kai could continue from there," said OBU global outreach coordinator. "We have really taken on the Chinese proverb of teaching them how to fish rather than giving them a fish."
Two OBU teams have worked with the people group and progress in OBU's work with the Kai people can already be seen, according to OBU global outreach coordinator.
"They are very open to spiritual things. They are so much more open than Americans are. It's a lot easier to approach them," said OBU global outreach coordinator. "It would be like going up to someone in Walmart and trying to talk about spiritual things in the frozen food section. Americans see that as weird, but the Kai are very open to it."
"But, they are very inclusive, so the hard part is distinguishing what we believe versus what they believe," he said.
Because of the Kai's openness, the OBU teams hope to use each moment of prayer and spiritual conversation as a chance to help the Kai in their spiritual journey.
"It is believing in those moments of prayer and stories, that they don't come back void and that they will be touched by God, that will influence them," said OBU global outreach coordinator. "Supernatural experiences have really impacted them. A powerful experience, dream or vision usually is what leads them on their spiritual journey."
The work with the Kai does not just take place in South Asia. At OBU, the Campus Ministry Staff works to integrate the efforts with the Kai people into the student community.
"Our focus is to raise awareness about who the Kai are," said Jonathan Chambers, student co-chair for the Kai people.
The Campus Ministry Staff recognizes the Kai has five areas of need: education, finance, spiritual, self-respect and health. Eventually, Campus Ministry wants to send teams of students to South Asia to reach the Kai in each area of need.
"We have people to meet all those needs," said Chambers. "We want everyone with their owl unique skills to get plugged in and involved."