How do you get started in a place where there is no gospel witness? Why are there still ‘forgotten communities’ in today’s world?
They all require the church to count the cost if they are to be reached. But are we willing to send people to places that are risky because of remoteness, high levels of persecution against those choosing to follow Christ, kidnapping, or even a global pandemic?
Are we willing to invest for the long term – if multiple languages need to be learned, hearts are spiritually ‘hard’, or professional qualifications need to be improved in order to secure a visa?
The church is finding all sorts of ways to cross barriers and reach people with God’s spoken word in this digital age.
A radio broadcast can be picked up in a remote Eritrean village; a Fulani herdsman can have God’s word on an SD card that plays through his mobile phone and young people in Indonesia can hear God’s word preached via YouTube.
We can be brought into relationship with one another, through the communication of God’s word across a distance, just as Paul found as he wrote to and prayed for the church in Colossae, whom he had never met.
Yet the good news of relationship with God through Jesus is, at its heart, designed to be shared through relationship with his people.
God counted the cost and sent the word in human form, that we might know him. He has made the church his body on Earth today, to continue to bear witness to Christ in person through relationship; through lives lived out in the power of his spirit.
Serving in Mission is excited to see that worldwide there are still churches willing to send their best people to hard places to bear witness to Christ through relationship.
Our Faithful Witness in Forgotten Communities initiative started last year to better enable this work.
This initiative is supporting new ministry efforts by SIM to launch and establish teams of faithful witnesses from all over the world to demonstrate the goodness of Jesus Christ in communities where people currently live and die without ever having one Christian friend.
Working with partner agencies and recruiting from churches across the globe, we are already seeing teams come together and we have prayed and listened to understand what is needed in six specific locations – Chad, Mali, Nigeria, north Africa, South Asia and Thailand.
Each team has no more than two people from any one nation, and each has a mix of skills and experience, with an experienced team leader, sometimes from a partner organisation.
SIM International Director Dr Joshua Bogunkoko says: “Less than five per cent of missionaries and mission funding go to places where people have never heard the good news of Jesus. Traditional missionary sending depends on the presence of other mission workers in locations, and so cannot address this imbalance. SIM’s Faithful Witness in Forgotten Communities initiative is designed to send a team of gospel workers to where none exist.”
Each member of a Faithful Witness team is given up to one-third of their funding for the first five years, so they can get going and start communicating back what they are seeing and doing – building their support as they go.
If your church would like to partner with a specific team, you can find out more information at sim.org/Faithfulwitness or watch a video that features several SIM leaders giving an overview of this pioneering mission.
By Deborah Agnes, SIM UK Personnel Director
- For the Lord to raise up multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-skilled teams to work in this pioneering mission.
- For gospel workers to raise the resources – financial and other needs – and trust in God’s perfect timing.
- That churches will be led by the Holy Spirit and guided by his word and his love for all people to support the Faithful Witness ministry.