Overseas Material Aid: Helping Ministries in a Practical Way
For churches and individuals that want to help an indigenous ministry in a practical way, Intercede International has a solution: the Overseas Material Aid program (OMA). OMA is all about sending shipments of needed goods and equipment to national missionaries in other countries.
OMA was a program that was started to help some of our partnering mission agencies with material aid, with goods that they can use among their people—to help them in their daily lives —like bicycles, a vehicle or computers—anything that would bring them up-to- date in today’s modern society.
“Overseas Material Aid was started because we saw the need for people to have a personal connection with giving,” observes Intercede President James Eagles. “Most of us can give our finances, but for a lot of folks, being able to have that personal connection, to make something or give something that they owned to help someone in another country far away, especially to children or families that are destitute, brings a lot of satisfaction here and a wonderful sense of being loved by the people over there.”
The OMA program started officially in 2002 with the first shipment going to Voice of Salvation and the Ebenezer Life Centre in Kenya. Other shipments have gone and are going to such disparate places as Ukraine, Pakistan, Haiti, Liberia and Sudan.
The OMA program has an ongoing need for the finances to provide the organizational labour, preparation and shipping of these 40-foot sea containers. The average container when filled can weigh as much as 15 tonnes or more and hold more than 4,000 cubic feet of goods. The average full cost to prepare and ship such a container anywhere in the world is about $7,000. Some indigenous ministries have a wide-ranging ‘wish list” of items whereas others need only a narrow category filled–such as medical equipment. OMA also needs more volunteers (especially from the Niagara region) to help load containers.
God has blessed OMA in special ways. Recently, one truck company was transporting goods for OMA. OMA’s superintendent found out that the driver and his boss were Christians. The driver offered to give the MIssion a discount, and after talking to his boss, waived the entire $800 charge.
What Not To Send
Certain items are not cost-justified for sending out in a shipping container. Clothing is very inexpensive in many countries and often sensitivities to cultural demands prevent North American-style clothing from being worn. Before it is sent out, clothing must be fumigated and that incurs extra cost. So clothing, although sometimes sent for special situations, is normally not encouraged.
Another thing we discourage with a few exceptions is Christian newspapers or magazines. Most are filled with contemporary western articles and advertising. An additional caution is not to send any equipment item that is more than 10 years old or that would be impossible to service overseas.
We try to send things that have intrinsic value and that are difficult to obtain in target countries. Here is a list of the main items we are looking for:
What To Send – The OMA List
1. Housewares: Blankets, suitcases, flashlights, sewing machines, pots.
2. Eyeglasses: Of all kinds.
3. Medical equipment and material.
4. Health: Vitamins and personal hygiene products.
5. Clothing: Only suits for missionaries.
6. Footwear: Shoes and boots, in good condition only.
7. Tools: Agricultural, building and construction tools and equipment in good working condition including generators, hand tools.
8. Bicycles: Must be in good condition and good working order.
9. Vehicles: Vans, cars, jeeps, and motorcycles in good working condition. It would be good to have 4X4s.
10. Office Equipment: Computers, software, printers, copiers, fax machines, office tools and equipment.
11. AV Equipment: Audio and video equipment, PA systems and musical instruments.
12. Bibles: New Testaments and Bibles in good condition, all sizes and languages acceptable.
13. Sunday School Literature: Christian tracts (reviewed for suitability to culture).
14. Books: Christian theological and teaching as well as Christian fiction for Bible school libraries.
15. Printing Equipment: Printing press, duplicators, folders, publishing equipment and paper supplies.
16. Toys and Sports items: For orphanages: dolls, toys, sports items, which are culturally acceptable.
Individuals, church groups, schools or businesses interested in taking part in the OMA program may contact the OMA Superintendent at the INTERCEDE office. Phone: 1-800-871-0882