Through the ages, Central Asia has been a crossroads. People have moved through it from one place to another and it’s often been overlooked, a place of dry hard ground. In this informational video about Central Asia, a Pioneer explains why Central Asia needs people who are willing to go live in the Middle Ground—learning the language and culture. There is good soil in the hearts of people who are ready to hear the Good News.
In 2016, our mission remains the same: to glorify God among the unreached peoples by initiating church-planting movements in partnership with local churches.
In 2016, we will see this taking place in many different ways.
Sometimes, we will celebrate the redemption of one individual. We will see the grace of God transforming a life through one step of obedience after another — as in the case of Bui, whose story is featured below.
At other times, we will witness a movement. We will observe the mobilization of Christ-centred workers, sharpening their focus on the unreached. Entire people groups that have been without the Word for centuries will receive it at last — as in the case of the Tarahumara, also featured in a video below.
So, at the beginning of 2016, we want to invite you to praise with us. To praise the Lord for His faithfulness displayed through the obedience of His people. To praise Him for His Mission that is going forward; and to thank Him for calling us to take part.
Click below to watch the story of Bui, a young lady who came to faith through the witness of Pioneers missionaries Bui lives in Northern Thailand, which is home to more than 7 million people with little or no access to the gospel. Please pray with us that there would be many more stories like Bui’s.
You can also learn about the Tarahumara, a people group in Mexico that has been unreached for hundreds of years. A team of Mexicans, Americans and Germans are living and working among them, sharing the gospel message in their native tongue. May many more people groups receive the Word and worship the One who loves them.
Victims of the fighting in Syria are fleeing extreme violence and destruction, leaving behind their lives, friends, and possessions. Over 4 million refugees have left Syria at present and more are leaving every day. Migrants desperately cross the Mediterranean from North Africa in hopes of reaching Italy or Spain. Others are being smuggled into Europe through Turkey and Greece. All over the world, people and nations are struggling to cope with the millions who have been displaced by war.
Many of these victims have experienced severe trauma – whether through violence, poor living conditions, persistent stress, or loss of friends and family. Whatever the circumstance, Pioneers is committed to engaging the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of victims of war. Pioneers Canada has missionaries on the ground in this conflicted region, working on Pioneers field teams with fellow missionaries from around the world to meet refugee needs through several high-impact ministries:
1) Women & Children’s Trauma Counseling – A safe place where women and children can express themselves, receive counseling for traumatic events, and and hope.
2) Children’s Sports Program – A sports ministry where children can go to escape the pressures of daily refugee life and simply “be kids.”
3) Arabic Media Outreach – Through tailored media content from our Arabic-language outreach website, we offer messages of hope and Jesus’ love to victims of war in the Arab world.
4) Learning Centre – Refugee children gain the opportunity to have some continuity in their lives by attending classes to learn Arabic, math, and other subjects.
5) Developing Refugee Ministries – Pioneers has teams in strategic areas like Greece, Turkey, and Hungary that are working to meet imminent and specific refugee needs.
6) Mobilizing New Missionaries – We are actively seeking new long term missionaries who are called to minister directly to these refugees in this crucial time.
A Pioneers Canada missionary on the front lines of this crisis wrote, ‘We have witnessed the arrival of refugees fleeing Syria because of ISIS. They are both Christians and Muslims. ‘Abu Mohammed’ fled his small village when ISIS demanded that they commit to a more strict Islamic law, die, or leave. With great sadness in his eyes he told us, “I have seen what my Muslim brothers are doing to each other. What is this faith? There must be more, where is the God of peace?” ’
Please pray for these refugees, that we will be able to a meet the real needs of real families whose lives have been ravaged by war and violence. Pray that they would know the true way of Peace through Jesus.
By a pioneer from the US working in South America
In the dense jungles of the Amazon, there are still tribes that have not been reached with the life-giving water of Jesus. One of these people groups—the Long Arrow Tribe—worshipped wooden idols that could not help them. Their chief, a man named Marcos*, was a disabled man, broken by many accidents and injuries. He prayed to the wooden idol for help, yet it did not reply. It did not heal him.
One day a man named Naapi* came to see the Long Arrow People. Napa was a follower of Jesus and a church leader among the Waniwa* people. So when Marcos tearfully cried out to him for aid, Naapi sat to talk with him. He asked if Marcos had consulted the wooden idol that represented the Long Arrow tribal god. Marcos told Naapi the truth. He had, but nothing had come of it. Naapi knew the power of the God he served, so he spoke again to Marcos. He told him that the Waniwa people would pray for him and that God would heal him. With those words he left Marcos.
That night as Marcos slept, he dreamed. A man appeared who lifted him from darkness into a place of light. Just beyond the light, a jaguar paced menacingly in the dark shadows. The man told the chief, “The jaguar wants to kill and devour you, but I won’t let him. You have been going down the wrong path in life. Now you must listen and obey Me.”
When Marcos awoke, he was completely healed. Along with other Long Arrow leaders, Marcos traveled to a Waniwa village to tell his story to the people who had prayed for his healing. But before he le to visit the Waniwa, he stood and told his own tribesmen, “Now I know the Waniwa’s God is true, and I am going to travel to their village to hear more about their God.”
Marcos has since become a believer in the Lord Jesus, and he is not alone in the Long Arrow Tribe. He—along with others—has come forward to be recognized as a believer and be baptized in the name of the true God.
It is beautiful to see the Lord moving in the dreams of those who have not yet let Him into their lives. God still desires to love and protect them from the jaguar in the shadows. He uses his power to heal them of their wounds and free them from sin.
Pray for the work in the Long Arrow Tribe as the Waniwa continue to minister to them. There is still opposition from outside sources who vehemently oppose the gospel. They have influenced some Long Arrow leaders against the Waniwa. Ask God to make this spark burst into a mighty flame for many others to see.
*Names have been changed
Thai collectivist culture means that everyone is always welcome. Kids live in and out of each other’s family homes. Quiet or alone time is non-existent (why you’d want it anyway is a mystery to them!). Furniture is optional. All you need to sleep on is the floor, making sleepovers an easy option! Bathrooms are also optional.
Yet dig a little deeper and you begin to see the pervasive nature of fear that has tightly gripped this culture. Fear of the dark, fear of the river, lightning storms, being alone… most of which at their root are a fear of evil spirits. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a child or adult express this crippling fear.
A lady we regularly visit hadn’t slept for two weeks owing to the constant pain she was experiencing. She sought help through a spirit doctor, but a er various painful rituals she found no relief. The spirit doctor informed her that an evil spirit within her threatened to eat her insides and eventually kill her if she was left alone. This was said in front of her ten-year old son. Fear perpetuates.
To this woman, Jesus is the risky, unknown, foreign God that she is afraid to ask for help. What repercussions will the family face from the spirits and ancestors if Jesus was to intervene? What would people say? New fears arise. Collective culture means that children regularly chant and bow together in Buddhist rituals and ceremonies at the temple and at school, but what would it take for one to refuse?
It would take a supernatural move of God. I believe it is a matter of time… He is able, and working in their hearts. This is why we need to pray like we mean it, and keep showing them Jesus until they are willing to trust him. He intends for each precious child, every hardworking adult, every drunken man, every tattooed spirit doctor, everyone created in His image, to be set free. That is my prayer for these people I have come to love.
Have the stories in this issue tugged on your heart? Do you want to explore opportunities to work among the Thai, Ligbi, or Long Arrow People? Maybe you’re not sure where God is calling you. Our mission mobilizers would love to chat with you and explore opportunities to serve. Call us at 866-268-8778 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk one-on-one with a mobilizer.
By a Pioneer from Australia working in Africa
It has been nearly three years since I started surveying the region. I remember sitting on a mountain looking over a village below and the whole region afar, praying that God would reveal where He would want me to start.
Just then I heard a motorbike coming over the mountain behind me and stop next to my bike. I introduced myself to the middle-aged man that approached me and asked him about the village below. He quickly informed me that it was his village, and that he was the new chief, soon to be coronated. I was then invited to his house, met his family, ate with them, and was invited to his coronation ceremony that was held the following week.
I started meeting with this family each week to teach them about God revealed in Christ. After the first three lessons it was clear that the chief and his family were both open and passionate about what they were hearing, and I was eager to continue with the studies after we returned from having our baby in Australia. When I returned three months later, I was shocked to find that the chief had died and I was no longer welcome in the village, as there were a number of witchdoctors that had independently referenced my presence in the village as a cause of his death.
A number of months later we got hopelessly lost looking for a shortcut through the mountains in the outskirts of the village. Two men found us and navigated us through the difficult terrain. I thanked the men and didn’t think any more of them until six months later when during a prayer meeting God brought the two men back to memory and very clearly impressed on my heart that these were the men that He was going to use to reach the village.
We were about to conclude weeks of meetings and lessons with these two brothers and their families when, after studying these words from 1 Corinthians 10: 20-22:
“No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”
Both brothers and their entire families decided to forsake their fetishes and follow Christ. With them that day were two other men who also gave their life to Christ, including a witchdoctor who had recently been crippled by sickness. As we talked with him he had explained that the brothers had shared with him everything that they had been learning and he could do nothing else but renounce his pacts that he had made with demons and follow Christ.
We rejoice in witnessing the beginning of God’s plan in this village, His victory over darkness, two families being born again, and the founding of a new church. A few weeks later the new believers were baptised and they’ve begun reaching their village for their new Lord and Saviour. Please be praying—His kingdom has broken in and now we are praying for its spread throughout the whole valley.
Gifts to Pioneers Strategic Priority Fund help us recruit, a train, and send more workers to bring the light of Christ to those in the most spiritually dark places. If you would like to give to this fund, you can call us at 866-268-8778, donate online at pioneers.ca/give, or simply mail the enclosed response form with your gift.
By Eugene Yakahone, Pioneers Africa Director
Missionaries have traditionally answered the call to leave home and spread the Gospel in foreign lands. But in the Global South, an increasing number of believers are on the move to take the Good News to unreached places within their own country.
Daniel is one of those missionaries.
Born and raised in the West African country of Ghana, Daniel is boldly proclaiming the Word to his fellow Ghanaians — but not those in his community. Instead, he is following God’s call and has moved to the remote northeastern town of Banda — a place where until 15 years ago, there were no known believers!
He is serving, along with a few others from the Pioneers Ghana team, among the Ligbi people group. The vast majority, about 85 percent of this unreached people group are dedicated Muslims and are very intolerant of the Gospel of Christ.
Even though the community has resisted every effort to bring the Gospel to them, Pioneers missionaries throughout Africa, like Daniel, are using creative methods in their work. Some use their training as teachers, medical workers, or artisans as a platform for ministry, as well as to generate much-needed support for their families.
As Daniel lives among the Ligbi people, the grace he demonstrates as the result of the work of Christ in his life is a powerful witness, especially among Muslims.
Daniel is using his training as an educator to make inroads with the Good News, believing that God will bring in a rich harvest among the Ligbi. He teaches religious studies at a school in one of the surrounding villages. His lessons cover Islam, traditional religion, and Christianity. With limited Christian resources in the Ligbi language, Daniel has taken the opportunity to explain the Gospel and the saving work of Christ to the young minds listening to him. Some of them have even embraced the truth of his messages!
He has been deliberate about living out his faith and the villagers have taken note. Praise God that many parents send their children to spend their vacation time in his home to receive extra academic instructions, but also in the hope that their children learn his good conduct. Daniel courageously uses the opportunity to minister to these future leaders whenever possible.
Daniel is one of more than 100 African missionaries that Pioneers Africa has sent to serve the unreached since 1994. They are currently ministering among 35 people groups in remote areas, mainly in West Africa, but also in Central and East Africa.
In some countries, where foreign missionaries are not welcome, local missionaries who spread the Good News are the only way these unreached people groups will hear of Christ. The Pioneers Africans in Ministry project supports missionaries, like Daniel, who work in hard-to-reach places within their home country. To support this strategic project, visit pioneers.ca/give and select Africans in Ministry in the Designation Field.
By Donnie Scearce, Director of Personnel
It has been said that organizations move through four developmental stages as they grow: man, movement, machine, and monument. While not all organizations achieve these milestones at the same pace, and some do not grow at all, God has been faithful to build Pioneers from the vision of one faithful couple into an international movement.
Pioneers was founded in 1979 when God gave a vision to businessman Ted Fletcher and his wife Peggy to begin a ministry that would focus on those with the least opportunity to hear the gospel. Their vision for the unreached was clear, their passion for God was strong, and their faith in God was resilient. That is what is needed to establish a ministry that will last.
Their ministry began out of a local church in Sterling, Virginia that offered to pray and financially support the Lord’s work. By the mid-eighties, the vision began to take hold in the hearts of university age people across the U.S. The mission was just beginning to expand. By the early to mid-nineties, momentum had picked up significantly and there were dozens of people annually who were volunteering to go to some of the most difficult places around the world. These were exciting days for the mission, but God was arranging for a new path to be taken, one that would expand the vision even further and cause it to become more of a global movement than ever before.
To quote from Ted’s autobiography When God Comes Calling: “To all the world” has certainly been our call. But there was another call as well: “From all the world.” We didn’t want Pioneers to be just a U.S. based ministry. To reach the entire world effectively, we had to represent the entire world—to find workers who were from all the world and send them to all the world.
Over time, and through a variety of means, including mergers and the initiation of new works, God began to cause the vision of internationalization to become a reality. Pioneers Canada came into the organization through the merger of World Outreach Fellowship and Pioneers in 1994. By 2000, Pioneers had sending bases in Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United States. The mission was well on its way to becoming an international movement.
Today, in 2015, the ministry has expanded to include offices in Latin America, China, and the Middle East. God is truly raising up workers from all the world to be a part of His greater global work. Ted, who is with the Lord now, would have never guessed the mission would have grown to include nearly 3,000 global members working in hard-to-reach areas of the world. But he would be thrilled to see that God has led Pioneers beyond himself as the man who started Pioneers to become a movement led by the Holy Spirit spreading the gospel from all the world to all the world.
In this issue we will share stories of Pioneering workers from Australia, Africa, UK and the USA as we celebrate Pioneers, an International Movement. If you would like to read the rest of Ted Fletcher’s autobiography, When God Comes Calling, it can be downloaded from Apple iBooks (Free), Amazon Kindle ($.99), or mailed to you ($10). Please call our office at 866-268-8778 or email email@example.com if you would like a copy of the book.
By a Pioneer in East Asia
Our summer team was travelling around the desert and had all stopped for the day in the home town of my heart. We had broken into smaller groups and were prayer walking around the town. We stopped at the back door of the old mosque as it had very nice architecture and some of my companions wanted to get a quick picture. One of the women who lived next to the mosque stepped out of her home. I didn’t know if she would be offended that we were taking pictures of a religious site, so I tried to be friendly. I smiled in her direction and greeted her with a cheery “Yakshimusiz”
She came running over and gave me a big hug, kissing me on both cheeks and repeating the whole thing over and over.
“You have come, you are finally here,” she said as she embraced me for the third time.
I had no idea what this woman was talking about. I didn’t know her from a hole in the wall, and I had no idea why she was so excited over my arrival. I wondered if my atlas dress and my headscarf made me look more like a Uyghur girl than I realized. I tried to explain in my broken and halting language that I was new here and that my friends and I were tourists out for a walk. She still held my hand fast in her large calloused one, stroking it with her thumb and beaming at me.
“I just can’t believe you have come. Let’s get a picture together.”
She motioned for one of my friends with the camera to stop focusing on the mosque and to take our picture instead.
After a short photo shoot I explained that we really needed to get going as our friends were waiting for us. Before leaving I promised to find a photo studio and develop the picture and deliver one to her door before we left in the morning. She dragged me over to her front door and pointed out several features to help me remember which one it was.
“It is just four doors down from the mosque, the green one. Don’t forget to bring the picture tomorrow. I want to remember that you came,” she said and hugged me again tightly.
I walked away shaking my head in utter confusion. To this day I still have no idea who she thought I was. But it doesn’t really matter. The next day I fulfilled my promise to her and took the picture to her house. I was even able to pray for her and her family. It was the first time I ever tried to pray fully in Uyghur. Months later I went back to visit and was able to leave her with a copy of the Book.
By Arab World Media, www.arabworldmedia.org
Praying for Muslim seekers during the fast
As we consider the many Muslim seekers taking part in the fast of Ramadan, let’s look at some of the aspects of the fast and pray for eyes to be opened…
Doing something to please God is the core of Islam – in the vain hope that he will one day grant them entrance to paradise. Muslims believe that depriving themselves of food and drink for thirty days during the daylight hours somehow earns them favour. It doesn’t.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal this to many!
In the honour-shame culture of the Arab world, it’s more important to be seen to be doing the right thing than it is to do the right thing. Perhaps, a not-particularly-devout Muslim might take a sip of water here and there. No harm done if no one’s looking!
But in Matthew 6:1 it says: Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Pray that Muslim seekers would recognize this hypocrisy and seek out righteousness through faith!
The days are longer during summertime, and in some parts of the Arab world, temperatures can reach beyond 40 °C (104 °F). Going all day without any form of sustenance – even water – is clearly not good. Though the elderly, the young, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and the infirm are exempt from fasting, quite often they participate anyway.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies. Pray that Muslim seekers would come to see that they do not honour God by depriving their body of what it vitally needs.
Forgiveness of sins is never guaranteed in Islam. But during the last ten days of the fast, when Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) takes place, Muslims seek it more than ever. Laylat al-Qadr commemorates the Prophet Muhammad receiving the first verses of the Qur’an. Although the actual date is not known, it is said that this night is ‘better than a thousand months’. Consequently, many Muslims pray for long periods and with extra fervour, particularly for the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14 says: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Pray that on this night many Muslim seekers would understand that it is only through Christ that they can be forgiven and redeemed.
We would like to invite you to pray with us for the Muslim World during Ramadan. Here is an excellent resource you can download to help you pray for the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world which includes specific prayer requests for a different country each day: 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.