Recently, a Pioneers team aired Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ on national television in a Muslim-majority country. After the showing, 65,000 people responded with text messages requesting more information.
Pioneers missiologist Dwight McGuire says these people were directed to a Web site video called, "The Secret Life," which stimulates viewers to explore their religious beliefs.
"Out of those who responded, 6,500 were Muslims who asked for New Testaments. After we sent those New Testaments out, we got responses back saying that about 85 of them had made professions of faith. We recognize that about 30 of them represented not just an individual, but a group of individuals," says McGuire.
This is the genesis for starting cell churches, says McGuire.
"Research has shown that mass media is poor at persuading people to consider other religions, but it is effective at identifying people who are in the searching mode," McGuire explains. "There are many who are disenfranchised. We want to try to identify those. There are also radical groups trying to identify these same people, so we, in a sense, are competing with those radical units."
McGuire continues, "By switching our focus to looking for seekers, we often had over 100,000 respondents, eventually leading to dozens of discussion groups -- precursors to cell churches."
Creative use of mass media, national television, videos, text messaging, the Injil (New Testament) and small discussion groups are all integral elements of Pioneers' ministry to see church-planting movements begin among the unreached.
McGuire says when individual Muslims turn to Christ, many of them fall away from their faith. "Persecution is so intense that they end up falling away, many of them. We know that when small groups come to faith, the persecution makes them stronger."
Pioneers is now seeking to find group leaders and train them to train others; in this way, the multiplication begins.
Currently, Pioneers is looking to expand the program into other Muslim nations, and McGuire says that will take significant resources. "Each of these projects, [like] this last one, costs us somewhere around $35,000 for the Bibles, mailings and those types of things. Because this seems to be a successful model, we desperately need people who have any kind of media background who are interested in being missionaries."
Pioneers was founded in 1979 by Ted Fletcher, former National Sales Manager for The Wall Street Journal. With 1,800 members serving on 188 teams in 84 countries, Pioneers mobilizes teams to glorify God among unreached peoples by initiating church-planting movements in partnership with local churches.