ABWE is praying to change that by launching its “Open Initiative”— an effort to access religiously restricted countries and unreached people groups with missionary teams focused on starting churches.
The goal is to mobilize at least 60 new missionaries to work among six people groups or in areas around the world that are considered “unreached”—meaning that less than 2 percent of the population are professing evangelicals and less than 5 percent are Christian adherents of any type.
ABWE, working alongside North American evangelical church partners, plans to gather the teammates and resources needed to establish new churches among:
- Nomadic Muslims in West Africa;
- Islamic peoples in South Asia;
- Refugees throughout Europe;
- Majority religionist expatriates in the Caribbean Basin;
- and the national residents of Japan’s Kanto region.
“It’s daunting to consider pioneering the good news of Jesus in a closed country,” ABWE President Paul Davis acknowledges candidly. “There’s a tension between the restless conviction to go and the sense of feeling overwhelmed by the next steps.”
The Open Initiative aims to rekindle a missionary spirit among individuals and local churches—and remove obstacles that often hinder Christians from serving in hard-to-reach contexts.
“We want to help people overcome the barriers they might be facing as a missionary to the unreached, by providing training, strategy, and the support they need to go and share the good news of Jesus.”
The initiative’s leaders are prayerful that by 2027—ABWE’s centennial anniversary—at least seven new teams will be actively serving in these unreached context.
Harry G. (last name withheld for security), is heading up the Open Initiative for ABWE, and says that the end-goal is to spark deeper thought and action about the “Great Commission”—the command in the Bible for Christians to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt 28).
“We want to see mission leaders, supporters, and missionaries be energized, not overwhelmed, by the unreached. We want them to look around and say, “Who else around us in this country are unreached as a people group?’ How can we change that?” Harry explains.
“We’d like to raise a new generation of missionaries in churches and ignite the church’s Great Commission thinking.”
The Joshua Project, a statistical body cited by leading missions experts, estimates that 3.28 billion individuals, qualify as “unreached”.
Individuals interested in praying for, financially supporting, sending a missionary through, or applying to serve with the Open Initiative are encouraged to request contact from an ABWE leader on the initiative’s informational page.
Those interested in joining as prayer partners can also opt in to receive daily text message updates. Visit ABWE.org/open for more information.
For nearly 100 years, ABWE has served the local church by mobilizing, supporting, and empowering missionaries who engage in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and partnership with national believers. Throughout its history, ABWE workers have taken the gospel to the least-reached and helped disciple the church to maturity where the gospel has already taken root.
Now, as a global family of ministries, ABWE’s 1,000 missionaries use a variety of ministries and skillsets to most effectively reach countless people living across more than 80 countries.
With almost 100 years of experience on the missions field, ABWE trains and supports 1,000 missionaries reaching 84 countries. If you’re exploring missions and wondering what opportunities fit your unique skillsets, read through our current opportunities. Feel free to start a conversation about the next steps in your journey to missions, as well.