60 million people, 5 countries, one God-given vision. As the Mekong River flows through diverse landscapes, home to around 100 different people groups, so OMF Mekong Minorities exists to see locally driven movements of reproducing churches among all these peoples, obeying Jesus and his Great Commission. Mekong people groups range in size from a few thousand to 20 million people. In most of these groups, Christians are a tiny minority.
Here are six ways we seek to see God’s kingdom come in the Mekong region:
Our teams use creative strategies to enter hard-to-reach places, connect with local people, learn their heart languages, and seek people of peace who can help the good news of Jesus Christ enter a new community. As we seek those God’s Spirit has prepared, we serve them practically, identify ourselves as Christ’s followers, and seek to engage in gospel-sharing conversations.
Mekong workers share the gospel in ways that can be readily understood by those hearing it for the first time. But it’s also important that local Christians can easily adopt the methods used to share the message. We often introduce the gospel through Bible stories of God’s work from Creation to Christ. Where possible we share with households, recognising that God often uses families as the foundation of new churches.
The Great Commission in Matthew 28 directs us to make disciples of all nations. We believe that when Jesus said his blood ‘is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matthew 26:38), he intended that many from each people group would receive his forgiveness. What is it going to take to see many people coming to Christ and forming church planting movements among each of the Mekong peoples?
Mekong workers set growing focused prayer as our foremost ministry. Convinced that prayer comes before any movement to Christ, Mekong teams centre themselves around prayer and call others to pray for the peoples of the Mekong region. Many Mekong teams have organized an annual month of prayer for their people groups. Several of these have been running for over a decade and involve thousands of people worldwide.
As new churches become independent and reproduce by planting new churches, we place special value on training leaders. Only by investing authority in leaders from within the people
group can we see movements really
become indigenous, carrying on far beyond what cross-cultural workers can do themselves and lasting long after they are directly involved.
As discipleship groups meet, they begin to do the things that churches do, such as prayer and worship, hearing and obeying God’s word, fellowship, outreach, giving, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and choosing leaders from within the group. We help these groups to gain an identity as a local body of believers who have the vision and accountability to multiply themselves by going out and planting more churches.
When people do believe in Christ, discipleship begins, often in groups. Those who cannot read the Bible for themselves can drink in the sustaining food of God’s word through oral Bible stories, which they hear, discuss, and practice each week. Goal setting, vision casting, and accountability are built into discipleship groups, so that new Christians not only grow in their faith but also immediately reach out to their own family and friends and disciple them in the same way they are being discipled.
Does this all really work?
Most of the peoples of the Mekong region have very few Christians today for good reasons. The places they live are difficult to reach. The complex mix of cultural identity and minority languages make communication challenging. Pressure from families and authorities creates many hardships for local believers.
Despite these challenges, we are seeing movements to Christ developing in several people groups in different parts of the Mekong region. Local Christians and churches are increasingly partnering with Mekong teams in effectively bringing the good news to those who are waiting to hear. Even the Covid-19 pandemic has helped us find new strategies to reach the hardest-to-reach people. In this issue, you will hear how God is leading Mekong teams and local Christians to answer the question: What is it going to take to see the Mekong peoples reached?
We long to see the Mekong River region become a sea of praise to our heavenly Father, with people streaming to him from all the high mountains and scattered valleys of this vast area. ‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14). Join us in learning about these precious people groups, praying for the knowledge of God to flow into them, and considering whether God has a role for you in serving Mekong peoples.