Destiny, promise, the impossible becoming the possible … it all starts with prayer.
Her lips hidden under her burka moved slowly with a constant whisper. Only her eyes and her hands were visible, and a string of prayer beads was rolling through her fingers in rhythm with her whispers.
Seated next to her, I leaned close and asked if she was praying. Her eyes sparkled as she nodded yes. I too was praying, confident my intercession was heard. My heart was inspired that she would seek and find the One who was the answer for all her prayers.
It began with prayer. A simple plea to know Him more and the longing for some hidden destiny that my Australian corporate career could not fulfill. Within months, I resigned my job and boarded a plane in Melbourne, Australia, for Denver in the U.S. As I prepared for takeoff, I sensed the Lord speak, “Genesis 12:1-3.”
I took my Bible and read the promise God made to Abram, who in loving obedience was beginning a journey to an unknown place and people, and a destiny not yet known. The full implication of the Abrahamic Covenant would come to me over many years, but in November 1990, the words I read conveyed a personal blessing and responsibility for His Name, for the nations … and a promise of something more. I took a pen and crossed out Abram’s name, replacing it with my own, Leonie. Like Abram, God had positioned me for a journey to unknown places and peoples for His great eternal plan.
High in the Colorado Rocky Mountains serving with Youth With A Mission, I learned of the thousands of distinct, unreached people groups in the world existing without the loving knowledge of Jesus. How could this be? Jesus was worthy of the worship of all peoples! Deeply challenged, I began to pray.
In the coming years, God would use me to pioneer a movement of prayer, people and provision for the sake of fulfilling the Great Commission among unreached people groups of the Himalaya. Jesus being worshiped where He is not!
The Himalayan Mountains stretching across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet was where I first came face-to-face and heart-to-heart with the unreached. Trekking into remote villages untouched by the gospel, I met and prayed for peoples enslaved under the impossible burden of ancient religions, without any hope of a Deliverer. At the roof of the world, my heart heard His promise of something more: the voices of the unreached lifted in worship to Jesus! The Lord prepared me with His perspective—with God, nothing is impossible!
My journey to see Jesus worshiped where He is not has been blessed by partnership with local churches worldwide. In 2012, I came to Living Way Fellowship (Littleton Foursquare Church) in Highlands Ranch, Colo., to serve as the missions pastor. In October 1996, the church, on their own journey to the unreached, adopted a Muslim unreached people group living throughout Southeast Asia. The pastors and congregation pledged to the Lord that they would pray until His church was established among the people group, and would continue to seek God for His direction to do whatever was needed to see this happen. They committed to pray, give, partner and go.
In 2016, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of this adoption. Giving thanks to God for His faithfulness and remembering the historical breakthroughs spanning two decades, our congregation, many people new to the vision, including our missionary families who have faithfully served on the field, renewed our commitment to continue to seek the worship of Jesus and the establishment of His church in our unreached people group.
It began in prayer and continues today. Prayer gives you God’s perspective. Prayer opened our eyes to see that we can engage with unreached people groups everywhere. You can cross an ocean, or you can cross your street. At Living Way Fellowship, we are discovering God has brought the unreached to our doorsteps as immigrants, business people, students and refugees. We can share a welcome basket with a new Hindu neighbor, or host a Christmas party to share The Christmas Story with Muslim families from war-torn Afghanistan.
The journey to see Jesus worshiped among the unreached is the great adventure of prayer, partnership and fulfilled promise! It is His church—the coming together of mission and the local church powerfully united as God intended. It is the vibrant new generations of Jesus-followers from unreached people groups dedicated to lead their people into His divine promise to know Him and be His blessing to the nations. It is the faithfulness of God, answering prayers and fulfilling destinies in His great global plan. Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18, NKJV). And as the prophet Habakkuk recorded, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).