The history of OCI begins with a vision. That vision involves thousands of lay people developing ways to extend God’s work in this world. It sees an army of young adults trained, dedicated, and committed to sharing the gospel in ways that are both practical and relevant. The vision pictures health, educational, and evangelistic centers being located in country settings, but impacting metropolitan centers.
This vision is an integral part of the early history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1904, the vision focused on the first self-supporting school, Madison College. Under the guidance of E.A. Sutherland and P.T. Magan, Madison trained hundreds as self-supporting workers. The graduates from Madison looked for ways to put their education to use. These workers went into unentered fields, supporting themselves and looking for ways to introduce the gospel in their communities.
Over the decades many new schools were formed. These tireless self-supporting workers inspired others in several parts of the world. But an organization was needed to facilitate the growth of self-supporting work, network existing projects, and help train and strengthen leaders.
Thus, in 1983, under the leadership of Warren Wilson, Outpost Centers was incorporated. Since that time, OCI leadership has continued to let the original vision be their guiding aim.
In the early 1980’s, Warren Wilson, who was then the president of Wildwood Lifestyle Center, recognized the need to form an organization that could serve as counselor and encourager to many of the new self-supporting institutions. Serving from 1983-1989, he saw the potential in and nurtured numerous people as they strove to fulfill the great commission in their home countries.
Harold Lance followed after Warren Wilson as OCI president. A retired attorney, Harold served with OCI from 1989-1998. During his tenure the work matured. He made sure that each OCI institution was properly incorporated, giving the organization special strength and adding to each ministries’ longevity.
Kim Busl was the third OCI president, serving from 1998-2005. Previously he had served at Mountain Missionary Institute in New Hampshire, as well as at Riverside Farm Institute in Zambia.
Markus Jaudas served as the next OCI president from 2005-2011. Originally from Switzerland, Markus had experience in pastoral and conference leadership, as well as supporting ministry work in Norway and Switzerland.
Steven Grabiner, the current president, was elected in 2011 after serving as OCI vice president for five years. Steven is an ordained minister and first became involved with supporting ministries in 1976. Since then he has worked in various areas, including 10 years as director of Riverside Farm Institute in Zambia.