By Nicole Davis
With literacy comes opportunity.
One Mission Society (OMS) President Dr. Robert “Bob” Fetherlin has seen firsthand how teaching a person to read leads to them obtaining more job opportunities, higher incomes and better physical health for them and their family. It’s a cause OMS supports and its upcoming event, the Freedom Park 5K Run, will benefit on Saturday, June 29, 8 a.m. at Freedom Park in Greenwood.
The Freedom Park Run
This is the second year for the July 4th-themed run to be offered to the public. Before then, employees and missionaries participated in the run on the OMS campus.
“We thought it was a great opportunity to engage the community,” said Taylor Logsdon, with OMS marketing. “This year we’re taking it up a notch. We’re adding to the after party. Uncle Sam will come and be our emcee. We’ll have a lot of sponsors from the local community. We’re trying to make it bigger, better and more fun.”
Logsdon said they anticipate 200 runners and walkers. A quartet from Greenwood Community High School will sing the National Anthem. Participants are encouraged to dress up in their best red, white and blue attire to kick off Independence Day celebrations. The registration fee for this timed run is $30 and includes a T-shirt, finisher’s medal and “freedom-ringing” race swag. Those interested can visit oms.run.
The 5K will raise money for the Bridge to Reading Literacy Ministry, onemissionsociety.org/give/bridge-to-reading. More than 25 million people across the globe cannot read, making it feel like they aren’t part of their society, Logsdon said. Bridge to Reading currently has missionaries in Africa and Latin America working to reduce that number.
“With this run at Freedom Park, we are trying to raise funds and grow engagement so we can train more and more people to teach people how to read,” Bob said. “There are so many people around the world who we don’t call illiterate, we call them preliterate. They’ve never really had the opportunity to learn how to read. Giving them that wonderful gift of reading, we open huge doors of opportunity in their lives. Those doors include better job opportunities, better physical health for the family, great agricultural production in their fields and better incomes. All of that water rises when people learn how to read. That in itself is very transformational. Then in the process, we want them to learn the good news of Christ.”
Many organizations, One Mission
One Mission Society is a Christian ministry organization with a goal to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. It operates on the principal that the best way to achieve that is to train people to lead and multiply their churches and form partnerships with other organizations to achieve a common goal.
Before coming to OMS, Bob and his wife, Esther served in Mali, West Africa for eight years. They helped citizens there “meet practical human needs” as well as teach them about who Jesus is and the difference He can make in their lives. They helped to establish a network to distribute food to the poorest famine-stricken areas, developed a hospital for women and children and would help people learn to read.
The Fetherlins were then asked by the organization for which they served to move into a leadership role, so they moved to Colorado where they served 22 years in leadership for a sister organization to OMS. They came to Greenwood five years ago when Bob was elected OMS president.
Entering this leadership role, one of Bob’s goals was to make OMS a truly international organization. They now have signatory countries which align with what they’re doing and helping to resource their work with personnel and finances. They have bases in countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. They’re reaching out to get new bases in countries such as Asia, South America and Africa.
“We are also very interested in meeting human needs,” he said. “As an illustration, part of our work here is to prevent human trafficking. We have trainers who live in different countries and work with local churches in those countries. We have engaged a lot of people and churches to help fight human trafficking.”
Partnerships are key to OMS’ success. Bob said they’re currently working with more than 135 Christian organizations around the world to give as many people as possible the opportunity to hear, understand and believe the word of Christ. The goal is not to convert people from other religions, but to offer this introduction to people who have never had access to the Word of Christ before.
“The goal of these 135 organizations working together is to see at least a billion people have the opportunity to do that over a 10-year period,” he said. “We try to do that as respectfully as we can. We’re trying to go into communities and help them understand, in their own language, and believe as they choose to do so.”
Locally, OMS is stepping up its community engagement at its Greenwood headquarters. Bob said to stay tuned as the Greenwood team plans for another family-friendly community event to come this fall.
“The purpose of that is to become more and more acquainted with people here in the Greenwood area who may have more interest in getting to know about One Mission Society and we would certainly want to get to know them as well,” he said.
Freedom Park 5K Run
When: June 29, 8 a.m.
Where: Freedom Park, 850 W. Stop 18 Road, Greenwood