The Pioneers Story (in brief!)

4 May 2021

How important it is to pause and reflect. In Scripture we find a heavy emphasis on remembering who God is and all that He has done and taught us. We don’t want to fixate on the past, but we do want our history to inform and inspire us for the days to come.

The history of Pioneers begins with the amazing stories of remarkable people. One of these was Florence Young, who served in China with Hudson Taylor. Returning to Australia in 1886, she started a flourishing ministry to Queensland cane field workers. Her work eventually resulted in hundreds of churches in the Solomon Islands and PNG.

Two years later, aristocrat Lilias Trotter gave up a promising career as an artist in England. She paid her own way to Algeria and spent her remaining forty years serving people of North Africa. Her story inspired the movie Beautiful Things.

In 1901 a young German doctor named Karl Kumm had a vision to establish a chain of churches across Central Africa. Today, over fifteen million men and women can trace their spiritual roots to the work of Sudan United Mission.

More recently, a young American Marine, Ted Fletcher, responded to a gospel presentation by Billy Graham on the front lines of the Korean war. Tedlater reflected, “I knew that how I responded to this invitation would not only determine my eternal destiny, but also make a difference for the rest of my life here on earth.”

Ted Fletcher with Bedouin shepherds in Kuwait after the Gulf War

In the 1970s Ted became friends with several mission leaders from Australia and New Zealand. They challenged him, “Ted, what are you writing in the pages of your life?”. Ted felt God’s call to step out in faith. In 1979 he and his wife, Peggy, founded Pioneers in their home. The first workers ministered in Nigeria and the South Pacific. The vision of the new organisation soon coalesced around the concept of ‘unreached peoples’, those beyond the reach of the gospel message.

Ted didn’t believe in ‘closed doors’. He was a man of faith and prayer with a bias for action. Pioneers soon became a fast-growing mission organisation, sending missionary teams with creative strategies to many countries.

In time, friendships and kingdom collaboration paved the way for a global mission sending model—a ‘from all the world’ perspective. Ministries launched decades earlier by Young, Trotter, Kumm and others linked arms with Pioneers to more effectively reach the lost. Today the Pioneers family includes wonderful people from all over the world.

Steve Richardson

As we look back at the rich history of Pioneers, we see how God has called men and women, young and old, from many walks of life to step out in faith and surrender to his wonderful plan. As Ted Fletcher said before his death in 2003, “We pray for unreached people and ask God—the Lord of the harvest—to raise up missionary laborers to go. He answers that prayer and sends them our way”.

– Steve Richardson, Director, Pioneers USA.

Is God calling you to join the mission field? Get in touch.

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