Whatever It Takes
By John Fletcher
Some years ago a small group of well-meaning young missionaries wanted to plant a church in Mauritania. Before they departed for the field, an older missionary came to give them his best advice. He had worked there among the Muslim people for more than two decades with little results. As the old man spoke of the needs and opportunities, the team got more and more excited. Finally, their leader was unable to contain himself and jumped to his feet.
“I think I have a plan,” he said. “We go in fast … we go in hard, and we plant the church in 18 months!”
The team went wild with enthusiastic agreement.
When they finally settled down, the old missionary spoke again: “Pioneer evangelism and church planting is hard work. You need to learn the language, understand the culture, love the people, and most of all commit yourselves to Christ Himself and doing whatever it takes … for as long as it takes.”
“How long might it take?” asked the team leader.
“Probably a lot longer than 18 months,” answered the old man.
The team never went.
Noble dreams, ambitious vision, impressive ideas, strategic plans, and even our zealous efforts are simply not enough. Beyond all these, pioneer missionaries must remain committed to the living Christ Himself—heart and soul—and persevere day after day after day.
Pioneers’ passion is to glorify God by partnering with local churches to send missionaries to places and people of greatest spiritual need and least opportunity to know Christ. In places just like Mauritania, a needy desert country in Africa’s northwest corner, Islam has been entrenched for 1,000 years. Statistical reports say the country is 99.84% Muslim, and there is officially no freedom to convert to another religion. Yet, in obedience to Christ, and in the face of such overwhelming odds and impossibilities, a Pioneers team seeks to do whatever it takes … for as long as it takes to plant a church.
Many of our missionaries find so-called “success” not in quick results or the amount of visible fruit. More often, they do the hard work of tilling hardened soil, faithfully plant seeds of the gospel, and persist through a long incubation period. They pray and trust God alone for a harvest—even if it is a future harvest they see only with eyes of faith.
Jesus illustrated an important lesson about the Kingdom of Heaven in His parables about the mustard seed and yeast—it begins small and grows quietly. And almost without notice, it grows big. So also, the gospel and Christ’s Kingdom are working their way around the world to all people groups.
Pioneers holds unswervingly to ancient promises of a glorious future—that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9). “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29). Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 picture the victory of the cosmic battle of the ages as The redeemed of all nations, peoples, languages, tribes, will gather around the Lamb’s throne and worship King Jesus.
A Voice from Africa
My colleague Dr. Solomon Aryeetey is a medical doctor. He led a Pioneers team among the Fulani Muslims in Mali and later started Pioneers-Africa. I like how he expressed it:
“Some say that Islam is a threat to the Church. No one threatens Jesus Christ. The God who said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light also said, ‘This gospel will be preached in all nations,’ and that will happen even in Saudi Arabia.”
Today we live in the Acts 29 era of Kingdom expansion. We pray, “Do it again, Lord, just as you did in the early Church.” Let us so live, then, as the first believers did. Committed to Christ. Committed to each other. And committed to seeing the task continued and completed among the unreached—whatever it takes … for as long as it takes.
Start a conversation with one of our mission mentors about taking your next steps in expanding God’s Kingdom.
Stories from the pursuit
Photo Essay – Remembering What God Has Done
Turning points from our 40 years: “We continually reminded ourselves that God didn’t say, ‘Go into all the world where you can get a missionary visa.’ He just said, ‘Go into all the world.’”
Seeking God on the Edge of the Sahara
“There is no easy way for people to follow Jesus here.” Pray for more to seek God, and for those already seeking God to not lose heart.
Opportunity: Learn about Muslims and Islam
Is God calling you to serve in the Muslim world or among Muslims close to home? Go prepared.