As COVID-19 spread and brought suffering to so much of the world, Pioneers teams all over the world responded to those around them. They partnered with dozens of churches and ministries on the ground to raise funds, distribute food and other supplies, pray with people, and look for new, creative ways to serve their communities.
In March, Pioneers set up a coronavirus response fund to support many of these efforts. By August, more than $200,000 had been raised for more than 30 coronavirus response projects in 16 countries.
One effort distributed more than 30,000 relief packages and fed more than 78,000 people. Another distributed more than 30,000 masks, face shields and hazmat suits to resource 120 hospitals and clinics.
A Pioneers team in the Middle East responded to the pandemic by offering food and medical aid to Sudanese refugees. Their efforts stirred many questions. Some refugees said they never had met such good people.
One refugee asked, “Why are you so loving and caring for people you don’t even know?”
These questions led to discussions that resulted in Bible studies. Refugees came to these Bible studies because they wanted to know why the God of the Christians was so different from their god. Soon, three new Bible studies had begun. Similar things were happening all over the world.
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to the Coronavirus Response Fund.
Our mobilization team held their first virtual prayer night in April. Friends from all over joined us to hear missionaries from across the world describe how COVID-19 was affecting their lives and the lives of the unreached people they serve.
What a joy to see more and more people respond to the world’s suffering by committing themselves to prayer. Several more virtual prayer nights followed as the year went on.
Hundreds of people from both sides of the Atlantic joined together to pray for Pioneers workers and their local partners during the unprecedented year of lockdowns and quarantines.
Then in early autumn, we partnered with our mobilization base in the United Kingdom to promote a self-guided, virtual weekend of prayer for the Middle East. This partnership invited Christians in the US and the UK to join together to ask God to move mightily in this part of the world.
Read Five Ways to Pray for Missionaries
(During the COVID-19 Crisis).
Teams in Central Africa had served for years with little visible fruit. But in 2019, God drew a man to Himself who would play a key role: Bishara. Despite fierce opposition from his family—including several attempts to kill him—Bishara developed a great love for Christ and for people.
He has started dozens of Bible study groups ranging in size from three people to sixty.
In the spring of 2020, as the coronavirus shut down schools and businesses in the country, Bishara started going from house to house to see who was ready to be baptized. Hundreds of these new believers said yes. New groups of believers are maturing and multiplying.
We plan to share more of this amazing story in 2021 through a brand new podcast and book.
to be among the first to know when the new podcast and book launch!
Creativity in Mobilization
2020 brought a burst of fresh creativity, innovation and connectedness in almost every area of ministry. Like so many others, we rapidly shifted to digital ministry strategies, training programs, processes and leadership meetings.
Though we could not travel to churches, schools and conferences to connect with people face to face, we used the technologies we had to continue raising up workers for God’s global harvest. More than 500 people completed our preliminary application online, letting us know they want to talk about going to the unreached. Pioneers USA was also blessed with almost 200 new missionary candidates.
Nearly 200 new missionary candidates joined Pioneers—during a pandemic year!
Training those God raises up has been another challenge, but by turning our orientation into a virtual event we were able to begin equipping these new workers. The first time we tried it, several of the participants joined us from locations in the Middle East where they were already living and serving in various ways.
These creative new strategies for mobilization, recruitment and training will help us serve even more effectively in the future.
While we won’t stop providing face-to-face training when possible, new strategies for mobilization, recruitment and training (such as our first e-learning course for marketplace-minded workers) will help us serve even more effectively in the years to come.
Check out Pioneers' first e-learning course, Six Keys to Work and Business
Unable to host Church Partner Forums, our Church Partnerships Team launched an online interactive series for church leaders called The Greenhouse. These free events, now monthly, address ways churches can grow in global outreach. More than 100 people registered for each of the initial Greenhouse events and many watched the video recordings and connected with Church Partnership Facilitators.
Members from over 125 churches participated in Greenhouse events in 2020!
“I felt like a lot of light bulbs went on for me today,” said one participant. “I want other members of our missions committee to hear this so we can discuss and pray about these things together.”
“Pioneers takes the time to invest in us. We appreciate how you’ve reached out to us several times in this pandemic...”
“It is so clear we are partners with Pioneers,” said another. “Pioneers takes time to invest in us. We appreciate how you've reached out to us several times in this pandemic and made sure everything is fine and how you have offered different things for us to help us grow like The Greenhouse.”
View the archive
of past Greenhouse events.