Responding to Human Need
The last year has been a difficult one for the country and people of Afghanistan. Extremism rose, shortages became severe and the pandemic raged. Then the world watched in horror as the Taliban took city after city, the president fled and many scrambled to get out. Thousands were caught in the crossfire. As refugees left Afghanistan, Pioneers had missionaries waiting to serve them.
Pioneers missionaries in Southern Europe have been ministering to displaced Afghans for years. A growing church is led by Iranian and Afghan believers. In 2021, American churches, individual donors and Pioneers missionaries came together to show God’s love to those fleeing so He would one day be known throughout all of Afghanistan. Ministry to the heartbroken and traumatized continues wherever Afghan refugees are found.
In several urban areas of the U.S. and Europe, a growing number of teams are helping resettle refugees, provide English classes and trauma care and offer gospel hope.
One team partners with local churches and other ministries to stock basic supplies to help refugees get settled. A team of volunteers, including several young Afghan women who were refugees themselves, visits 5-6 new families a week. They distribute welcome baskets with the items an Afghan family needs most, including familiar items from local Middle Eastern markets and international grocery stores.
In addition, many Pioneers continue to minister to the poor and grieving in places most hurt by COVID-19 and pandemic shutdowns. Pioneers teams have set up relief programs, provided healthcare, and delivered packets of food and essential supplies to thousands of people in need.
See also our guide to praying biblically for Afghanistan and the Afghan people, Weep With Those Who Weep: How to Pray for Afghanistan
Mobilizing Missionaries Internationally
Spotlight on Africa
Founded 25 years ago, Pioneers Africa is now the second-largest missionary-sending base in the Pioneers family. Our African members have planted numerous churches. among the unreached in West Africa and beyond and provided insight and leadership for mobilization and ministry efforts around the world.
In 2021, West African Pioneers started at least 18 new churches and saw some 750 people come to faith.
One Pioneers Africa missionary team launched at least seven new Bible studies and brought 19 new believers to Christ, including a village chief!
This village chief suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. Several people prayed to their tribal gods, asking for him to be healed. But his condition worsened—to the point he was close to death. One of our African missionaries asked if they could pray for him. At first, he said no. But he became desperate. So, he allowed our missionary to pray over him. Our missionary prayed and shared the gospel with him. The head chief was healed, and he is now a believer.
When he came to faith, he said, “Let it be known that on this day, I serve the God of Abraham, and Jesus Christ is my savior, and all should follow Him.”
We praise God for our new brother in Christ! Because of his authority, his village is allowed to have Bible studies, and many people have come to faith.
Pioneers recently established a new office to mobilize workers from Egypt and neighboring countries. We praise God for their wonderful leadership and vision. A recent class of missionary candidates from Pioneers Egypt had already planted a church before they completed training.
Ministry Partners in Asia
Pioneers all over are developing more agile strategies for training, collaboration, evangelism and discipleship. In 2021, one of our Asian offices expanded its virtual training platform to provide pre-field training to a group of 30 new church planters over several months. This small office has already sent more than 20 Asian families and individual missionaries to locations from Asia to Africa and several nations in between.
Thirty years ago the country of Mongolia was almost entirely unreached with the gospel. Pioneers missionaries were instrumental in sharing the gospel and seeing churches planted there. Today, God is raising up whole teams of Mongolian church planters willing to serve God in other challenging places.
Pioneers leaders mobilizing Asian believers say it’s starting to look like 2022 could be their biggest year yet. “Please pray that roadblocks and travel restrictions would not get in the way of our new missionaries getting to the field,” says one. “We need the light of the gospel message to spread around the world through these servants of His.”
What God has done over many decades gives us hope and courage to mobilize more missionaries. Read stories of former pioneers in our free ebook, Fire & Ice
Through your support of Pioneers Media Outreach, the Word of God is being shared in some of the most difficult places in the world. Our most mature media ministry serves least-reached people in the Middle East and North Africa. There, reports show that 268 Arab world Muslims came to know Christ in 2021 while another 23 took the big step of baptism. We praise God for every person who began to follow Jesus. Lives are being transformed, and families and communities are gaining opportunities to hear the gospel. We can also report that more than 1,000 digital Bibles were downloaded. Every day, more people are asking for Bibles in their language.
Searching for the Way to God
A country in Africa is one of the fastest-growing social media markets in the world. Five years ago one in 25 people had a smartphone. Today at least one in five do. That’s a big jump in a short time. Many even have Facebook accounts, Instagram or Tiktok. While they may be too shy or afraid to approach a Christian in person, they are more curious and courageous when it comes to using their phones to search for answers about the way to God.
“Our family has been here more than 10 years now, and we are noticing more and more people coming to faith through their online connections. Facebook asks, ‘What’s on your mind?’ In online searches, young people here are asking, ‘Can you tell me more about the way of Jesus?’” – A Pioneer in Africa
For 15 years Izzabideen had been searching for the way to God. The traditions of his family didn’t leave him satisfied. During an internet search, he found a website that told him about the way to Jesus. He wanted to know more. Our network was able to connect him to a believer in his city who could tell him about the way to Jesus. This is what Izzabideen had been searching for. Soon he gave his life to Jesus and has shared the gospel with his family and others who also believed.
Retooling for Effective Mobilization
While 2020 brought a burst of fresh creativity to every area of our ministry, 2021 was a year to assess what worked and harness the most helpful strategies.
In 2021, more than 500 people let us know they wanted to talk about going to the unreached by completing our initial application online. A growing number communicated with us by text, followed QR codes to connect with a mobilizer or brought us their questions using a chat feature on our website.
To lower the barriers to mission engagement, we launched the first season of a mobilization podcast we called Relentless Pursuit. The podcast connects listeners with stories of missionaries who happen to be people just like them—with many of the same fears, doubts and difficulties.
This podcast is SO helpful, honest, and humble. The episodes are filled with incredible stories of God’s faithfulness and simple (not necessarily easy) obedience. The host and guests discuss the highs and lows of mission work with grace and honesty [and] apply principles to everyday life with clarity and conviction.” – Relentless Pursuit podcast listener
Podcast episodes, articles and videos were incorporated in the beta version of a new mobilization strategy, Pursuit Groups. Facilitators of these five-week, discussion-based, community-oriented groups help participants explore God’s heart for the nations and their roles in His story. We’ve already seen God use groups to prompt participants to take their next steps in missions. We hope to put this tool in the hands of many others to multiply our mobilization efforts.
Over the summer, we sent 23 young adults on Edge trips and a steady stream went out throughout the year as part of our Venture program. “All of this encouraged our team and helped us gain momentum for this coming year,” says Courtney, our Vice President of Mobilization. “We have great plans in store for 2022 and we are praying that God would use us to raise up laborers for His kingdom.”
“The most emotional part of the trip was saying goodbye to the local friends we made, and the local pastor who hugged us with tears in his eyes and asked us to come back. More than any of us here, he understands that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few." – 2021 Edge Team member
Listen to the Relentless Pursuit Podcast
on our podcast website or learn about Venture