Open Initiative Launches First Missionary Team

ABWE takes the next step in its plan to send teams to seven more unreached people groups by 2027.

Only months after announcing the Open Initiative—a focused effort to send missionaries to religiously-restricted countries and unreached people groups—ABWE has launched its first team from the initiative to Southeast Asia.

Comprised of five missionaries trained to start churches, the team is establishing themselves in a predominantly Muslim area of the world, focusing on an unreached people group (UPG) of 20 million people with less than 500 evangelical Christians. Two more missionaries are expected to join the team in the coming months.

Harry G. (last name withheld for security), leading the Open Initiative for ABWE, says, “God is at work. In the last 30 months, I’ve seen 29 people come to the unreached countries of South Asia as missionaries through ABWE; in the five years prior, I saw three.”

Overall, the goal of the Open Initiative is to mobilize at least 60 new missionaries to work among seven 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;
  • Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists in the Caribbean Basin;
  • and the national residents of Japan’s Kanto region.

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,” says ABWE president, Paul Davis.

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 contexts.

“Historically, about 15 percent of missionaries serving with our organization were focusing on unreached people groups,” says Harry. “I think God is opening the eyes of the church to how they can serve. This is about raising awareness and promoting the need for praying and unifying how we plan to reach the unreached in the world.”

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 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 skill sets to most effectively reach countless people living across more than 80 countries.