OMF Literature traces its roots back to an organization founded by Englishman James Hudson Taylor in 1865. Hudson Taylor was passionate about taking the Good News to the inland provinces of China, and the new international and interdenominational mission he was to lead was called the China Inland Mission (CIM). The mission prayed hard and sent out waves of workers to China throughout the late nineteenth century. In 1900, a group of Chinese called the “Boxers” set out to exterminate all foreigners in China, and a reign of terror followed, during which hundreds of missionaries (97 from CIM) and Chinese Christians were put to death.
When it became plain that the continued presence of the missionaries was causing suspicion and harassment for the Chinese believers, the CIM workers withdrew from China, and in the early 1950s the mission began again in East Asia, establishing headquarters in Singapore. One significant decision made concerned the strategic importance of literature work, and in time publishing houses were to be established in the Philippines, in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Jakarta, Indonesia. Although the name CIM was dear to many, the mission group was soon to be known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship and, eventually, OMF International.
In the Philippines, the first ex-China workers arrived in the early 1950s, and the group’s literature work began in 1954. John and Dorothy Robinson, an Australian missionary couple, set up a makeshift office to direct publishing in Manila, while Alfie and May Johnson, based in Calapan, concentrated on literature distribution, taking books by van to hold book-tables at town fiestas, and sleeping, if necessary, under the van. It was Alfie and May who opened the first OMF bookstore in Calapan, known as Philippine Christian Bookstore.
The publishing arm of OMF Philippines started small, as the Robinsons arranged for the publication of Gospel tracts through the Christian Witness Press in Hong Kong. OMF Publishers was officially established in 1957, and early booklets published included 100 Questions Answered from the Bible (Job number 605, printed in Manila in 1957) followed by 100 Questions on the Christian Life, published in English, Tagalog, Ilocano, and Cebuano. Meanwhile, the ministry was growing, and before long moved with its small team of national staff to Romualdez Street in Paco. The first of a network of bookstores was opened on Taft Avenue in Manila, and then another in Baguio City in 1959.
Although tracts were already in production, OMF Publishers’ first “book length” publication by a Filipino author was Love and Courtship (1973), by the late Evelyn Miranda Feliciano. Other early titles by Filipino writers included Why Wait till Marriage? by Dr Isabelo F. Magalit, and the Tagalog translation, Maghintay Ka, Mahal.
OMF Publishers gained momentum in publishing and distribution work. In 1974, retail operations were separated from the publishing and wholesale book distribution, with the bookstores under national leadership operating as Philippine Christian Literature Inc. (PCLI).
OMF Publishers was incorporated as OMF Literature Inc. in the 1980s, becoming a fully Filipino- run company, and able in 1986 to buy its own building with book display area at 776 Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City.
With a growing list of Christian titles, OMF Literature set in motion its children’s books imprint, Hiyas, in 1993. Hiyas, which is the Filipino word for precious gems, is home to best-selling and award-winning children’s titles.
To reach more communities with Christian books, OMF Literature launched OMF LIT branch bookshops in key cities in the Philippines in 2009. The OMF LIT Bookshop chain now comprises 10 branches nationwide, including 4 stores named Passages, in selected malls. We also operate an online store through Passagesbooks.com.