Mao and Phoenix are working to see a gospel movement among the Hui, a Chinese-Muslim people group of 13 million in East Asia that has fewer than 2000 Christ-followers.
These Converge missionaries know that at any time, up to a dozen police officers could come knocking at their door to look through their things, take pictures and intimidate them. Authorities are offering a monetary reward to anyone who reports about the work Christians are doing. Also, the government has thrown many foreign Christian workers out of the country in the past two years.
Amid these challenging circumstances, this couple depends on prayer to sustain them.
“We are much grateful for our partnering churches being faithful ‘rope-holders’ holding the rope through prayer and encouragement, even as we go down to the dark places where the Islamic strongholds are,” Mao said. “The prayers they lift up are indeed our lifeline.”
Eric and Janet Johnson began their ministry in Mexico City in 1983. The first church the missionaries helped plant folded six months after they left when the pastor resigned. They were unsure of what to do next and were wary of starting another church.
“We were sending letters back to churches saying, ‘Help us pray in this so that we can sense God’s clear direction,’” Eric said.
God answered and opened the door in 1989 for the Johnsons to work with a dynamic young pastor and a team of other leaders of an established church. The Johnsons served there for 11 years, continually implementing new ministries and helping shape the church’s DNA. That church has steadily grown from 300 people to more than 3600.
“For the people we were supported by to be praying as we asked them to for God’s direction in such critical issues as ministry assignments and relationships — this is a team effort,” Eric said. “And it can’t be just us on our own trying to do it. If it’s not a team effort, it’s not going to work because too much is at stake.
“We’ve seen some real prayer warriors in our supporting churches. And when we visit them, and they say, ‘We pray for you every single day,’ it’s like ‘wow.’”
Dan and Tina Gibbs oversee a thriving, self-sustaining missionary hospital in Gembu, Nigeria, that provides holistic care and a gospel witness to the people of their region.
Every month, they ask their supporters to pray that they will follow in God’s footsteps and that he will give them the wisdom to meet the needs of the day, Dan said.
Tina saw the power of prayer when she asked people to pray for a couple of children from a Muslim family who were hospitalized with burns. The mother of the child who survived realized it was God who healed her daughter.
“I really believe only through prayer can we make a difference with Muslims,” Tina said. “It’s such spiritual warfare thing. It was very clear to this mother, and she went to a Christian church to give thanks to the God that healed her daughter.”
All these missionaries stress the importance of praying for the people they are trying to reach with the gospel.
“We ask our partnering churches to pray that the strongholds that hold the Hui people back to be torn down,” Mao said. “For them to really begin to acknowledge who Jesus is and to see a lot of their misconceptions corrected.”
For Tina in Nigeria, the main thing she asks people to pray for the Nigerian people is that they will develop a heart for God and understand their need for a relationship with Jesus.
“The biggest challenge in our area is people adding Christianity on top of tribal religions,” she said. “We’ve had a hard time even finding evangelical people.”
Want to know how you can pray for our missionaries? See each couple’s specific prayer requests and pray for them today.
Dan and Tina Gibbs
For Dan’s recovery from two strokes, that the doctors would figure out the best course of treatment
For the Nigerian leadership team in our absence
For wisdom in helping church leaders in all denominations in their area to realize that the syncretic beliefs they have are damaging their relationship with God
Eric and Janet Johnson
For God’s clear direction as we seek to discover how and where he would have us serve him in “retirement”
For God to lead the coaches and churches in Mexico who are doing Cosecha (Harvest), the Spanish adaptation of the Retool Kit Pathway, to finish the process well and to experience the health, growth and transformation that he desires for them
For God to continue to expand and strengthen the Red de Amor teams of pastors’ wives throughout Mexico as they grow in their ability to love God more, love each other more and bear more fruit with joy.
For God’s abundant blessings, fruit and protection on our families as they serve him in Mexico City, Indianapolis and elsewhere in the world
Mao and Phoenix
For the Hui Initiative — for God to fulfill the vision of seeing a gospel movement among the Hui unreached people group in our generation, with the specific faith-goal of seeing one million Hui people in Kingdom communities within the next 10 years
For us workers (local and foreign) to be able to have platforms/avenues/channels to penetrate Hui communities and have a positive visible presence among the people
For all our Hui Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) to be faithful in reaching out to their family members
For protection for MBBs, other workers and us, that every weapon from the devil formed against us to be rendered ineffective and powerless
This January, Converge will embark on a movement-wide 21 Days of Prayer. Across the globe, Converge churches, congregations, leaders and missionaries will pray for God’s leading in our lives, our churches, our movement and our mission fields. As we fully submit to God in prayer together, he will display his person and his power in unprecedented ways to advance the gospel so more people can meet, know and follow Jesus.
In this video, Converge president Scott Ridout invites you, your church leaders and your church to join us in 21 Days of Prayer.
Michael Smith, Converge Content Specialist
Michael Smith serves as Converge’s content specialist. He has nearly two decades in the newspaper publishing industry. Michael worked as a copy editor and designer for the Tampa Tribune for more than a dozen years, and has also been a member of the editorial staff of Florida Baptist Witness and other publications across the Southeast.