New Frontiers: The Spice Islands Initiative

by Ivan Veldhuizen, Executive Director of International Ministries
Converge Missions

Leaders of the massive mosque eagerly directed us into their hour of prayer. Our shoes, so different from any others in this religious city, were carefully set aside by a gracious host for safekeeping, so they wouldn’t be swiped while we observed their rituals of worship. As we ascended the stairs, numerous people nodded in a gesture of welcome; no signs of judgment or repulsion were present. Entering the cavernous room of marble, we heard the patter of feet echoing throughout, reminding us of the emptiness of religion. Women with heads covered were relegated to the back of the room while men came in throngs, kneeling with heads to the floor near the imam front and center.

Gracious Islam. We were welcomed with open arms. We were honored as desired guests.

We observed the rituals, the repetition, the desire to please their god, the dedication of hundreds. We were overwhelmed with the hollow hum of praying, well-meaning disciples.

Most had never heard yet. Of Jesus, that is. Still, after 2000 years, the gospel has not penetrated this region of the world. They mean well, they try hard, but they don’t know.

Let’s get strategic

We will continue to expand our impact in the 30+ countries where we’re already working, but these Spice Islands are Converge’s newest ministry field. There are more Muslims in this country than in any other nation in the world. With a priority on least-reached peoples, Converge is committed to being a key player in helping fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime. That’s what led us to this place — it is filled with unreached (UPGs) and unengaged unreached people groups (UUPGs).

We are deploying a 10/10/10 strategy — 10 teams of 10 global workers in the next 10 years, with a multiplication factor: each Western worker or couple will partner with five to eight indigenous church planters who will be on the front lines of ministry. This means that by deploying our global workers in this initiative, we will help mobilize 250-400 national workers. These will become effective church planters among the UPGs and UUPGs in the Spice Islands. The Lord has already provided outstanding in-country church planting partners for effective collaboration.

Did you know that radical extremists are tilling the soil of Muslim hearts? When the average adherent to Islam witnesses the radical violence of fellow adherents, he or she begins questioning, “Is this a religion I can continue to embrace?” “Could I learn more about what I really believe?” The latest statistics in regions close to our target areas report that 11 percent of those given a full presentation of the gospel respond by becoming disciples of Jesus. That’s also the highest response rate seen in this country.

Our International Ministries team is eager to go all out in the Spice Islands. Besides partnering with nationals, we are seeking partners from the Global South — Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans and Brazilians. We are investigating various strategies to employ simultaneously in various regions. Among these are The Timothy Initiative (TTI), which plants house churches in Asia as fast as rabbits have bunnies;and business ventures that create environments for evangelism and church planting. We also are seeking other  creative ways to bring the gospel to those in this overlooked region of the world.

No longer overlooked

Jesus' heart beats for the overlooked and forgotten. In fact, the Father has delayed Christ’s return until “this gospel of the kingdom is preached in the whole world, as a testimony to all the nations [ethné] and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).

The Spice Islands are no longer overlooked. The time is now. There is an urgency to our task. God has called Converge to be a vital player in bringing these people to Jesus. It requires all of us — every pastor to prayerfully consider his role, every church to identify and send workers and every believer to seek the Lord for his or her part in this great endeavor.

Someday, when standing before the throne of Christ, we will engage in worship with those “from every nation and tribe and people and language,” and know we had a part in seeing this become reality.

Now it's time for action. Learn how you can be involved.

    Point - September 2018

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