January 7, 2022 | View All Stories

Mission Fields to Watch in 2022

A lot of people stumble into the new year exhausted and relieved, thinking, Whew, isn’t it great to be done with last year?

It’s true that 2021 brought more stress, turmoil, and uncertainty. We’re surrounded by stubborn problems, new challenges, and growing fears.

But as Lamentations 3 says, the Lord’s mercies are new every morning. 

So I want to encourage you now at the beginning of 2022 to look in faith for the Lord’s mercies. And even to dream big dreams and hope big hopes for this year.

Because God has a big dream for the world — everyone knowing the glorious name of Jesus. And He is working every day to make it a reality. God is doing amazing things in our fallen, chaotic world!

As we start 2022, I invite you to look with me and see what the Lord is doing and be encouraged.

Specifically, I look forward to seeing what God is going to do in four countries this year. They all happen to be in the 10/40 Window, where the majority of the world’s unreached people groups are located. They are also Muslim-majority countries where persecution can be extreme. But the Lord is moving!

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is at the top of the list, and not just because of the crisis this country is experiencing. Before the Taliban regained control last year, the Afghan church was one of the fastest-growing churches in the world. Now the situation is tougher, but the opportunities for growth are still there.

Right now a small group of believers is reaching out to their Muslim neighbors and relatives with food, firewood, and the Gospel. This is how hope is going to spread in this country — one family, one relationship at a time. True hope for Afghanistan lies in Jesus!

I’m praying for the Lord to do a marvelous work in this war-torn country and bring hope out of the ashes. 

Iran

There aren’t many places with greater restrictions on Christianity than Iran. House churches meet in secret. Some even worship silently so that their neighbors can’t tell what they are doing and turn them in!

But Christianity is growing faster in Iran than in any other country in the world because believers are committed to sharing the Gospel with their neighbors. Hundreds of thousands of New Testaments and Bibles have been distributed in the past few years. Iranians are watching Christian worship videos on YouTube and signing up for online classes to learn about Jesus.

One Iranian church planter said, “To see so many Iranians engaging in evangelism inside the country and many more participating in Scripture distribution and discipleship gives us great hope and confidence that the church in Iran will grow much more than what we are already celebrating!”

I know these faithful brothers and sisters will continue spreading the Good News among their neighbors and also reaching out to Afghan refugees and others. 

Turkey

At the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is definitely a strategic country. I was privileged to visit Turkey in 2021 for a conference of leaders from Muslim-background churches around the Middle East and North Africa.

What a blessing! It was amazing to see the camaraderie and joy as these brothers and sisters exchanged stories, encouraged each other, and discussed plans.

While I was in Istanbul, I met a pastor who is connected with 30 churches around the country. It was awesome to get a glimpse of what these churches are doing to share the Gospel with Muslims around Turkey, where more than 95% of the population is Muslim.

ANM is part of a unique network of Christian leaders from Muslim backgrounds around this region. They are able to reach out to their Muslim neighbors in ways that others can’t do. The new connections they are forging will greatly enhance their ministry.

I can’t wait to hear more about the tremendous work the Lord is doing in Turkey.

Bangladesh

Muslim-background believers in Bangladesh continue to expand their ministry to native Muslims as well as the Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. It’s wonderful to hear the stories of conversions from Islam to faith in Jesus. There are almost 900,000 Rohingya in refugee camps in Bangladesh right now. They desperately need both practical help and eternal hope in Jesus. Native Bangladeshi missionaries are delivering that to them. In the fall, 27 new Rohingya believers from the refugee camp were baptized. More are coming to faith every month.

I visited Bangladesh in 2019 and was amazed by how much the local Christian ministries are doing: publishing Christian books, sending out mailings to interested Muslims, training new pastors, delivering humanitarian aid. These brothers and sisters are powerhouses for Christ in a very difficult place. 

God is at work in Bangladesh. Our ministry partner there has a dream to see 30%, or 50 million, of Bangladesh’s 160 million people follow Jesus! His small army of missionaries is out there making it happen.

Would you pray with me for these countries?

There’s one more thing that links these countries: they need your prayers. Would you pray for God’s kingdom to advance in these critical mission fields this year? 

Here are three ways to pray:

  1. Pray for their leaders. In each place, greater coordination will help Christian leaders accomplish more this year as they work together effectively. Also, please pray for new leaders to be identified and trained to carry on and expand the work.

  2. Pray for the persecuted. ANM’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Brother Kevin, says that his persecuted brothers and sisters most often ask us to pray for boldness and faithfulness. Please pray specifically for new believers from Muslim backgrounds. They need safe housing when they face opposition from their families and neighbors. They may also need help finding new jobs. Many new believers have lost their jobs because their employers found out about their Christian faith.

  3. Finally, please pray for ministry among refugees in these countries. This is a time of great turmoil, and millions of people have been forced from their homes. Pray for Christians in these countries as they reach out to refugees and migrants with the Gospel.

I’m so excited to see what the Lord accomplishes in these four countries and around the world in 2022.

I hope your heart is encouraged.

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Oliver Asher

Oliver is President of ANM.

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