Missionaries See Success in ‘55 in 5’ Initiative

The coast of northern Mozambique is predominantly Muslim. Men do evening prayers on the beach. Source: Biblical Recorder

More Christians live in Sub-Saharan Africa than in any area of the world.  However, despite Sub-Saharan Africa being one of the fastest-growing regions of the world, more than 27,000 people in the region die daily without ever having heard the gospel.

To help reach the world for Christ, the International Mission Board (IMB) has set a goal of ministering to 55 unreached people groups through a ministry initiative called “55 in 5.”

Affinity leader for Sub-Saharan Africa, Daren Davis, said, “We were looking for big, audacious goals that we could go after as [missionary] teams. As I looked at this reality of 55 unreached and unengaged people groups, I began to evaluate that and think through that and ask the Lord, what do we do?”

IMB missionaries Jay and Kathy Shafto are partnering with local Christian groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to reach two of the unreached people groups. Working with Vincent, a local pastor from the DRC, the Shaftos began a 124-mile trek to meet with the Sonde people, which in the past have been resistant to missionaries.

Upon discovering the Sonde did not have a Bible in their own language, they began an oral Bible storying project.  Further, the missionaries discovered two different Baptist denominations were already active in the region.

“We have been happy to bring support to that engagement,” Kathy said.

Six Sonde Christians are now learning 25 oral Bible stories. Thirteen people choose to accept Christ, and four Bible storying groups began. Four Sonde Christians are receiving leadership training.

Additionally, the Shaftos reported the evangelistic efforts of a local Ngongo woman named Mama Helen helped the team of missionaries reach 3000 members from her community and 167 committed their lives to Christ.

The gospel is also reaching Mozambique through the work of missionaries from New Zealand and Japan, who have been active in the area. 

“I’m thrilled that we are seeing momentum with our personnel, but we are also seeing momentum across our African partners,” Davis said. “We have churches that are highlighting these 55 unreached and unengaged people groups. We have WhatsApp groups that are receiving the prayer updates and the different ways in which we are advertising and promoting prayer.”

As people groups continue to be reached, IMB remains committed to fulfilling the Great Commission and working to ensure all persons have an opportunity to hear the gospel.

Source: Biblical Recorder