International (OM) — God hears us when we pray according to His will. We see Him working in the lives of our families, friends, neighbors and co-workers as we pray for the needs of those close to us.
However, there are more than 3 billion people around the world who don’t know God. Often, they don’t even know a single Jesus follower who can tell them that God listens to their prayers.
Many of these people are concentrated across five geographic areas: the Sahel (1), the Arabian Peninsula (2), the North Caucasus (3), South Asia (4) and the Mekong (5).
By spending time in prayer for people who do not yet know God’s amazing love, we align our hearts and minds with His, and open ourselves to how He might desire to use us for His work in the world.
In the eastern region of the Sahel, Christians make up less than 4% of the population, while in the western countries, there are still very few. Like their neighbors, believers face many hardships, including food insecurity and internal displacement. Many Christians also face religious persecution. But through Jesus, the Sahel has hope, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus followers there are equipping believers to make disciples.
OM comes alongside local Jesus followers who are passionate about sharing the transforming love of Jesus with the people of their country. OM provides training, discipleship tools and, in some cases, small business consulting to help local Jesus followers earn a sustainable living while they share the gospel message throughout the country. OM also supports Jesus followers seeking to be Jesus’ hands and feet by providing physical aid and engaging in relief efforts for those in need.
The Arabian Peninsula
It’s reported than there are fewer than 1,000 Jesus followers among Arabs in the region. Not only do believers suffer government persecution, but they also struggle to find community with other Christians and places to freely worship Jesus. Nevertheless, God is working. Many young people in the country are open to hearing the good news of salvation, and Jesus followers are actively living out the love of Christ to their Muslim neighbors.
OM supports and encourages Jesus followers in the Arabian Peninsula (AP) who seek to authentically live out their faith among those who do not know Jesus. OM comes alongside those who seek to pray for and bless people living in the AP and look for opportunities to answer questions about what Christians really believe. OM fosters a movement of prayer for those who have never experienced God’s love and equips those sharing truth through a variety of social media and online channels.
The North Caucasus
The church is small in the North Caucasus, and it can be difficult for Christians to share the message of Jesus’ love with their neighbors in the face of cultural pressure and persecution. The region is particularly difficult to reach with the gospel message because of political instability, government corruption and ethnic strife. Amid these difficulties, though, believers are living out the love of Jesus that brings peace and unity.
OM comes alongside Jesus followers who move to the North Caucasus to work and share their faith and life with local people. To find more skilled professionals who will go to the region, OM is liaising with churches across Russia to encourage more businessmen and women to investigate how they, too, could serve God through their jobs among a people group who don’t know Him.
The nations of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh comprise the region of South Asia and are three of the top five nations with the highest number of people who don’t know the message of Jesus. South Asia is home to more than 1.5 billion people, and the sheer number of those without easy access to the gospel is overwhelming.
Hinduism and Islam are the two most popular religions in South Asia. It’s projected that, by 2030, India will have more Muslims than any other country in the world. Communities of Jesus followers face prejudice and oppression from family and the culture at large, causing many to fear reaching out to their Muslim and Hindu neighbors. There’s also been an increase in terrorist attacks against Christians, as well as anti-blasphemy laws targeting Christ followers.
Still, the people of South Asia are hospitable and friendly, and the local church benefits from deep historical roots. Ministry throughout the region takes a holistic approach, with Christian believers sharing the truth of the Bible alongside practical service assisting refugees, contributing to education and community development, rescuing women and children from trafficking, training local Jesus followers to reach their own communities and more.
The vast majority of people in the Mekong have never heard of Jesus or even met a Jesus follower. Historically, the presentation of the gospel was coupled with the message of abandoning one’s culture, which caused many to view the message of Christ as a form of colonialism. For this reason, growth of Jesus followers often occurs through the work of same- and near-culture believers who can contextualize the gospel message.
OM in the Mekong is partnering with church leaders to equip committed Jesus followers to engage in meaningful social work and live out God’s love in places that lack access to the gospel. From distributing food to people who are homeless to visiting children with special needs to organizing and sponsoring educational programs for children affected by poverty, OM team members and partners seek to show God’s love in action and develop relationships with people in need.
Through these bridges, those who are interested can learn about the gospel and receive further discipleship.
Jesus followers are also using their God-given talents to establish themselves in credible positions throughout society. By living out God’s love in their workplaces, operating with integrity and acting out biblical values through business decisions, they have opportunity to shine for Jesus in a place where He is not widely known. In partnership with other organizations, OM is mobilizing more believers in Christ to pursue Kingdom-driven, sustainable business in the region’s secular environment and providing ongoing coaching to those already following God’s call to this part of the Mekong region.
Header image courtesy of Operation Mobilization.