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 the 12 plus years Victoria lived in Hungary, she had never seen such desperation and chaos. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians, Iraqis and other refugees arrived en masse at Hungarian borders, bus depots and train stations. The crowds of hungry, tired migrants set their eyes on the safety of Western Europe, and Hungary stands between them and their longed-for sanctuary.
Children roamed the sidewalks as their parents sat on cardboard and flattened mattress pads. Young men read graffiti from other travelers written on the walls. All awaited the next leg of their journey. Would it be by bus, train or perhaps another tiring day on foot while being exposed to the rain and cold?
One day at the station, Victoria and her coworkers noticed a woman sleeping at the base of a stairwell in the overcrowded train station—now operating as a makeshi migrant camp. As they started a conversation, they learned the woman was sick, pregnant and unsure of when she would be able to leave. Without blankets or a jacket, another bitterly cold Hungarian night seemed impossible to endure.
Victoria, having seen God work one miracle after another for these migrants, listened and offered to pray for her in Jesus’ name. The woman gladly accepted the prayer, grateful that someone would care enough to sit and listen to her story. Victoria also prayed for blankets or sleeping bags.
Five minutes later, Victoria got a call from a teammate. They had just received a cash donation from some friends and used it to buy sleeping bags for the refugees. They bought hundreds. Victoria was shocked. Her teammates could not have known she had prayed only minutes earlier for this exact need!
Victoria returned to the station and found the woman. Her eyes lit up as she saw the sleeping bag. Of all the people struggling through this crisis, God specifically heard her prayer and provided both healing and a sleeping bag. She shared her gratitude.
This is only one of countless stories of how God is revealing Himself and His goodness in spite of a truly terrible situation.
God’s love is moving among the unreached and we praise God for the heartfelt response thus far to our Love Moves initiative. Gifts to Pioneers Love Moves initiative will help in three key areas: sending more missionaries to the unreached and supporting those already serving, providing security training to those serving in hostile regions, and serving refugees. Find out more at www. pioneers.ca/lovemoves. If you would like to give to this effort, please call us at 866-268-8778 or donate online at pioneers.ca/give.
By a Pioneer in Canada
The scene is dramatic. Mary, on the donkey, very pregnant and starting to go into labour. Joseph, frantically going from inn to inn trying to find someone, anyone, to give them a place to stay for the night. But there is no place. As the scenes are re-enacted many ask, “Didn’t they see that she was about to give birth? Why didn’t they have compassion on them?”
The answer was simple – “There was no room for them in the inn.”
Jump ahead to the year 2015. The news footage shows massive movements of people as they try to escape ISIS, different governments, and look for a safe place for their families. And now it is time for us as Christians to answer the same question – “Will we make room in our inn?”
Across Canada, many churches are answering “yes” to this question. One of these churches is in the Owen Sound, Ontario area. In late August, they were part of a sponsorship program which brought in a refugee family of four from Eritrea.
“When I heard of the refugee crisis, I knew I had to help,” explained Christian, a church member. “Imagine … leaving all your belongings, getting on a rubber dinghy with your children, as you pray that you make it to the other side. No one does that for no reason.”
The refugee committee is made up of 6 couples who each take different responsibilities that include fundraising, translating, medical, education, paperwork, ESL and driving.
“It is important to realize that sponsoring a family is more than just a money thing. Anyone can give money but the time commitment is huge, especially in the first year,” explained Diana, a refugee committee member. “But it is worth it,” she quickly added. “It is what Jesus wants us to do. We are blessed so we can share our blessings. How can I not share all that God has given me?”
Many firsts have taken place for the Eritrean family over the last 4 months such as seeing snow, riding a bicycle and swimming. “For me, a highlight was watching Grandma write her name for the first time,” explained Jeff, the pastor of the sponsoring church. Grandma, who was married at 11, had never had an opportunity to go to school but is now studying English five days a week.
When Grandma was asked what she would say to refugees waiting to come to Canada, she smiled and said, “Tell them Canada is good and the people are kind. Come, you are welcome here.”
Would you like to learn how you can help the unreached peoples that are coming here to Canada? Consider sponsoring a refugee family. More information can be found at www.theEFC.ca/MiddleEastRefugees. Pioneers also has several teams that are ministering to Canada’s newcomers. If you would like to learn more about joining our full-time missionary work here in Canada, you can talk to a mission mobilizer by calling us at 866-268-8778 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were in the Kurdish Autonomous Region (KAR) of Northern Iraq to assess what God is doing among the local people and the refugees flooding in from Syria, and other regions devastated by ISIS. The meeting room held about a dozen Christian leaders, who were working in various cities. It was the first time that all of them were able to meet together. These brothers are ministering in cities that are under the threat of ISIS and the threat of persecution from those who oppose Christianity. Most of them are new Christians themselves.
The older gentleman who made the above statement went on to explain three things God is using:
1: Education – More Muslims are able to read today than ever before. This allows them to read the Koran for themselves, rather than simply relying on what the Imams are teaching. When people are able to read, they are able to think more for themselves and find the truth.
2: Internet – Since more people are able to read, they are able to find things that are written online. As a result, more Muslims are not only hearing the truth about Islam, but encountering the Gospel on their phones and computers. (Arab World Media, an online ministry of Pioneers, is proclaiming the Gospel in Arabic.)
3: Muslim Extremism – ISIS is only the most recent iteration of terrorist groups that claim that they are the true Muslims. The atrocities being committed by groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS are causing Muslims to question their faith. First, they believe that the Extremists must be wrong in their understanding of Islam. But as they dig deeper, by reading the Koran itself, they are realizing that the Extremists’ brand of Islam is true Islam.
The leaders around that table all voiced their strong belief that God has brought about an unprecedented opportunity for the Church to reap a harvest among the Kurds.
This conviction was shared by a long-time pastor of a Kurdish church, whom we met the next day. He drew us a map of where some of the ethnic or religious groupings of Kurds were living before the crisis, and where God has moved them to, and told us:
The Kakais (a minority group – the men of this group have a distinct moustache) were moved from their territory to a different location due to the ISIS insurgency. The Yazidis, yet another minority group, were also moved. The Kurdish Catholics living in Baghdad were told by the ruling Islamic party to move out of their home with only what they could carry. They trekked north to the KAR on foot. As they resettled in different places, their only help came from evangelical Christians. Many people from these minority groups have recognized their need for Jesus as they were taken away from the comforts of their home to a place where they needed someone to save them. So, the Kakais and Yazidis are meeting Jesus for the first time, and the Catholics are saying that they are re-encountering Jesus in a new way.
I asked the Kurdish evangelical Christian leaders, “Would you leave if you had the opportunity?”
Their answers were varied, but had the same conclusion. “I did leave, but I came back.” “How can I leave these people behind?” “My in-laws are trying to take my wife away from me because they are angry that she has left Islam. They want to marry her off to a Muslim man to wipe away their shame.” “My children are no longer able to attend the local schools, because they are children of a Christian. I have ruined their future.” “But if we leave, who will show these people the love of Christ?”
The three of us, visiting from North America, were humbled by the love and dedication of these men of God.
“What would you like to tell the Christians in North America?” I asked them.
“Thank them for helping us with relief supplies. We don’t have much, but we are sharing what we can with those who have less than we do. We are grateful that people like you are coming to help us. Please keep sending help. Tell them to come also. We need the entire church of Jesus Christ to stand together. As the Bible says, if one part of the body is hurting, all of the body is hurting. We are hurting. Help us!”
On the plane ride back from the KAR, my mind wandered to what Job said at the end of his trials. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you…” (Job 42:5, NIV). Minority groups in Northern Iraq are going through an extraordinary time of suffering. However, the Lord is opening their eyes to see who He really is. They are in need of the Body of Christ to stand with them. How is the love of Christ compelling you to move?
Please pray for these refugees and for those who are risking their lives to serve them. May Christ’s love move us all to action! Perhaps God is moving you to give financially. Maybe He is nudging you to take a step of faith to go and join God in what He is doing across the ocean.
By Donnie Scearce, Director of Personnel
When a missionary family begins the long-term journey, with an irresistible passion to see a church planted among an unreached people, they usually begin with little more than a dream and a hope. A few years ago, 2009 to be exact, a colleague and I visited a small Pioneers team in the heart of Damascus, Syria. The team was in the final stages of Arabic language learning and cultural adaptation. While everyone knew that this learning was just the beginning of a life-long process, it was still a time of excitement as it would form the foundation of their growing ministry.
The team plan was to continue ministering in Damascus and watch how God would use them to see churches planted. Then through a series of unforeseen circumstances their plans were challenged. First, one family was required to relocate to a nearby country due to health issues. Then, in the spring of 2011, the unthinkable happened. Tensions in the country erupted into full-on conflict. This was the beginning of the ongoing Syrian civil war and refugee crisis. As the team was forced to leave they wondered, ‘hadn’t God called us to serve these people?’
This example highlights one of the lessons missionaries learn along the way: God tends to call us to serve Him among a people more than to a land or a geographical location. Just as the Syrian people spread out between Jordan, Lebanon and other neighbouring countries, so did the workers. The work and purpose that had begun in Damascus continues today among the thousands of Syrian refugees pouring across the borders.
These workers are involved in relief and development, both of which are necessary to demonstrate the love of Jesus in times of dire need. However, the long-term objective of seeing a movement of churches sparked is never absent from their hearts, minds, and actions – it is a mission that has migrated with the people. We celebrate the formation of 50 Bible study groups of Muslim refugee families and 62 believers trained in church-planting principles. Seeds of the gospel are being sown and Christ-followers are coming to maturity. Despite the unexpected changes to their plans this team continues to work towards the vision of seeing churches planted among the Syrian people. In the DNA of their vision is a core belief that ever since Pentecost, the church has been the primary agent of God’s redemptive love and grace to a hurting world.
While it may require years – sometimes decades – and detours across borders, the Gospel is on the move and the church is expanding. It is our blessing to play a small part in what God is doing in our generation!
Would you like to learn more about God’s heart for the nations? Consider taking a missions course with Perspectives www.perspectivescanada.org or Kairos www.kairoscourse.ca. They will change your life. The courses may even compel you to join a church planting team among the unreached!