OSCAR: Celebrating Twenty Years Online

by Mike Frith
Posted on 1st March 2020

1st March 2020 is OSCAR's 20th birthday! Mike Frith, OSCAR's founding director, takes a brief look back at the last 20 years to see how far OSCAR has come to what it is today.

The Vision

After God's call to mission in the late eighties, I worked as a pilot and engineer with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Africa through the nineties. Whilst flying and staying with missionaries on the field, I realised that many of their problems could be solved by either being better informed or better connected. The advent of the Internet provided a potential solution to these issues, so I embarked on a 'small' research project to see what could be done about it. It soon became apparent that God was opening up the way for a new venture to create a hub where mission workers could be informed, with advice and resources, and connected to organisations and individuals who could help them. We returned back from Africa to the UK with a new vision and a new direction to our calling to mission.

OSCAR promotional rulerThe History

I started working on putting OSCAR together in September 1999 and the first (1.0) website, designed by Wyre Compute, was launched online on 1st March 2000. For 4 years, this was managed from a home office in Leicestershire before we moved to Gloucester to be based in Redcliffe College. The website usage grew steadily from an initial 30 visits per day. In March 2006, the second (2.0) website was launched. Designed by Headscape, this served us for 12 years! In 2015 we moved out of Redcliffe College into separate offices in Gloucester. Then in March 2018 our current (3.0) website was launched. Designed by Ascent Creative, this gives us a great platform for all the information we now maintain, making everything database driven, searchable and responsive (mobile and tablet friendly!)

A few approximate stats about OSCAR after 20 years:

The Impact Online

  • Days online: 7,300
  • Visits to website: 3 million
  • Page views: 8 million
  • Jobs/opportunities advertised: 20,000
  • Events advertised: 4,000

The Impact Offline

  • Days spent advising and resourcing at events: 450
  • People helped at these events: 12,000
  • Jobs/opportunities advertised at events: 2,200
  • People who have attended our training courses: 1,500

The OSCAR Website Today

  • Over 2,200 pages, 13,500 external links and 4,000 database records including:
    • 660 Opportunities
    • 620 Mission agencies
    • 500 Christian support services
    • 950 Churches
    • 1,000 Resources
    • 80 Events
    • 200 Articles
    • 70 Book reviews/features
  • Over 2,600 subscribers on our email lists
  • 1,300 followers on Facebook, 1,950 on Twitter, 176 members on LinkedIn and 50 followers on Instagram!
  • Over 700 people in our online community, OSCARactive
  • Monthly - 32,000 website visits (16,000 unique) & 160,000 page views
  • Daily - 1,300 website visits & 6000 page views (1 visitor every minute, 24/7)

I am grateful to God for His guidance through these twenty years and to many others who have encouraged and supported me and OSCAR along the way. You know who you are! Thank you.

It has been such a privilege, even with all the challenges over the years. It reminds me daily that if you pursue, and are obedient to, your calling from God, He will be faithful to see it through ... even when it seems impossible (Phil 1:6).

Today, there are about 10 people on the OSCAR team (staff, trustees and regular volunteers) and we look forward to serving the mission community in whatever way we can in the future.

OSCAR Website 1.0

OSCAR Website 2.0

OSCAR Website 3.0

Mike Frith is the Founding Director of OSCAR. Prior to starting OSCAR, he worked as a pilot/engineer with Mission Aviation Fellowship where he spent time living in the USA, France, Switzerland, Madagascar and Uganda. He has been involved in working with, supporting, training and resourcing cross-cultural workers for over 25 years. He is married to Cheryl and they have two grown up children, Joanna and Will.