Planes, trains, buses, motorcycles, cars and boats will get them as close as possible before they set off on foot to find hidden people groups. International Mission Board missionaries are going the extra mile, quite often literally. Why?
“We’re going to the deepest part of lostness, the place where nobody is looking for these folks, to be able to make sure they have the opportunity to hear the life-giving good news that Jesus saves and can move us from perishing to life everlasting,” IMB Vice President John Brady said.
It will take a lot of research, something IMB already conducts at the highest possible level. The IMB is committed to finding and engaging people so far off the map that not much is known about them and their exposure to the gospel. Earlier this year, the IMB launched a new initiative, Project 3000, to engage 3,072 unengaged and unreached people groups. Of this number, 784 groups have no Scripture in their heart language.
Explorers, IMB missionaries who will dedicate two years to this effort, will journey into the unknown to find out where these people groups live, learn about their culture, discern their literacy, develop ministry strategies and find people to partner with them in the task.
Ray Henry Holiday is in the pioneering group of explorers.
The Tennessean travels with a national partner to remote areas in South Asia for six weeks at a time to live among one of his 10 people groups. Once they arrive in the general area, they find transportation and accommodation.
Holiday compared his job to how Jesus sent out the 72. He’ll go with minimal supplies — “carrying my home on my back.”
He collects as much demographic information as he can and builds relationships. While he uses a translator, he also takes time to study the people’s language.
During his university years, Holiday served in Central Asia with the IMB’s Hands On program. He thought he’d be headed back to the Central Asian country, but when he heard the explorer job description, it was an echo of a burden and prayer the Lord placed on his heart three years ago.
As a high school student, Holiday prayed from Isaiah 6:8, “Here I am, send me.” The verse was shared at an IMB job conference when Project 3000 was presented and the explorer role explained. It further confirmed his calling.
“It’s a hard job, and that is part of the reason why I felt called to it. I feel like I have the gifting and ability,” Holiday said. “There is a great need. There is no one going to these folks.”
Pray for Holiday as he and other explorers scout out and research their people groups.
Pray the Lord will open the hearts of these unreached and unengaged people groups.
Pray God will call more people to serve through Project 3000.
For more information on how you can be an explorer or join the Great Pursuit in other ways, visit www.imb.org/great-pursuit.
Some names have been changed for security reasons.