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Starting from Scratch: Ministry to an Unreached People Group*

Stories from the Field, 7 May 2024

Speaker: David

Proverbs 16:9 – In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.


David began with this verse – a reminder that even though we make plans, it is the Lord that determines our steps. He went on to share about how he and his wife chose to work with the Zedsee people, an unreached people group, set up a home there, built relationships and discipled the early believers.

Making decisions

As an example, David gave the example of how he and his wife decided which country to go to, and which people group to serve. They felt they had a calling to missions, but no specific calling to any country or people group. They decided on the country based on some practical requirements such as wanting to be near Singapore for annual visits home, not liking extreme cold, and an inability to eat chilli! Later, when it came to choosing the group to work with, they saw that there was a need and an opening to serve this group, so they took it up. The burden for that particular group grew as they lived and worked among the people. David said that it was only in retrospect that they became sure that this was God's will for them.


Key people

To help them along the way, God sent people who played very significant roles in their ministry. One of them, Mr L, was not even a believer. He was the person who met them when they first arrived, and helped them get set up in their first flat. Later, when they wanted to move to the town in the Zedsee area, they remembered that he was from that area. He introduced them to a friend in the town, and through the network of contacts, they found a place to live. For the record, the flat they rented belonged to Mr L’s friend’s friend’s landlord (that’s 4 people)!


Another key person was Ms H, who had become a believer through another missionary, and had brought a few friends in the small town to faith. She helped David with some language learning, then introduced him to those believing friends in the town. One of these became the first drafter of the Zedsee scriptures, and this group was the first Zedsee group that David discipled.


Discipling the believers

David and his wife strongly feel that physical presence and frequent contact is important when discipling new believers. Living among the people gave them opportunities to speak into the new believers’ lives when they faced difficult issues. The people could see that they lived under the same situations and conditions. That's what it means to be incarnational – living among the people and being subject to the same limitations. One thing they had to remind themselves was they were just enablers – spiritual growth comes from the Holy Spirit. As Paul said: I planted, someone else watered, but the Lord makes them grow.


Handing over

After 10 years in the field, David and Sharon handed over their project to another team and returned home to Singapore to place their children in the Singapore system. Having engaged in pioneering work among the Zedsee, leaving the people was like parents saying goodbye to their children. Even after all this time, they feel like a piece of their hearts has been left in that culture, in that town, with the people.


The project has been progressing well under the new team, and the New Testament is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2026. And the believers are still holding fast to their faith. Praise the Lord!


* Unreached People Group (UPG): A people group which has few believing Christians (usually under 2% of the population) and does not have the resources to evangelise their own people group without outside assistance. The 10/40 Window is home to some of the largest unreached people groups in the world.

Unreached people groups©Joshua Project

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