By Graydon Jessup
The objective of The Jonathan Project is to plant multiplying churches among the least-reached people groups on the planet.
These are people who live under oppressive regimes, in inaccessible locations, and in areas where Christianity and Christians are the “infidel.” Nearly 2 billion people fall into this “least-reached” category. They have never heard the name of Jesus. They don’t have the faintest concept what a church is about.
This 10-year-old ministry was designed by missionaries on the field in East Asia. The original goal was to plant a church a year, but the magnitude of the task soon moved the missionaries to expand their vision exponentially. They began to dream of developing church planting movements among the least reached.
Out of those dreams and prayers, The Jonathan Project slowly developed. Over these 10 years, well over 1,000 churches have been planted, and more than 300,000 people who had never heard of Jesus have accepted him as Lord and Savior and are serving him today!
Raising Up “Jonathans”
In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan, son of King Saul, and his armor bearer went after an enemy garrison located on a nearby hill. Jonathan’s decision to attack was ridiculous. It was so “off of the charts,” in fact, Jonathan had to sneak out of his own camp without telling anyone his plans. Jonathan’s challenging words to his young armor bearer were: “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6, author emphasis).
We are looking for “global Jonathans” who have the heart and attitude of the biblical Jonathan. We are seeking men and women who look at the impossible hill and go after it. These men and women are willing to put their lives on the line for the preaching of the gospel among the very difficult least-reached people groups.
These modern-day “Jonathans” know people remain unreached because of the incredible negative and fierce political/religious pressures of a given area. But these “Jonathans” march forward into those situations anyway. The places they are called to teach and preach the gospel appear impossible, just like the battle the biblical Jonathan fought. These “Jonathans” often live with murderous threats on their lives, their families, and their church members. These “Jonathans” from all over the world are convinced, “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
There is so much more to this Jonathan Project story. When the gospel is proclaimed, transformation takes place! Men and women, boys and girls who had never heard of Jesus see the light.
• Broken relationships in families are healed.
• The powerful curses of spirit worship and ancestor worship are shattered and people experience peace in Jesus Christ in amazing ways.
• Young girls are NOT sold into the sex slavery operations of the world.
• Young boys reject inclusion into radical terrorist organizations.
• New believers practice compassion and forgiveness within the context of age-old cultural divides.
• Health issues, such as sanitation, clean drinking water, and diet, are introduced to the believers and these new practices contribute to a healthier environment for the new followers of Jesus Christ.
• This transformation of a village is so obvious that visitors can immediately see the radical difference between a village walking in the light of Jesus Christ and a village that has rejected the forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ.
Let me explain the transformation with this illustration. One of the least-reached people groups in East Asia has practiced a tradition that is in the process of being reversed by the power of the gospel. In this tribal group, a father builds a small hut alongside the family house for his daughter when she reaches the age of puberty. The young girl stays in that small hut and any man or boy in the village can approach her hut and be intimate with her. If a man or boy comes to this girl three times, he must marry her.
Sexual diseases are rampant. No one knows the identity of her first child’s father. Male travelers passing through the village are invited to visit these girls.
When the gospel was preached to this formerly unreached people group, and the village leaders became followers of Jesus Christ, they concluded on their own, “the God we are learning about would not approve of what we are doing with our daughters.” Slowly from village to village where the gospel has been preached and believed, the small huts are being torn down by the dads, thereby protecting and honoring the young girls. This gospel is being proclaimed by Jonathans who are going to the “least-reached among us” and faithfully proclaiming the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
Many of the villages are in the opium triangle of East Asia. Many of the villagers have been opium addicts all of their lives. But when men and women, boys and girls respond to the call of Jesus Christ and give their lives to him, they are abandoning their drug abuse. They then tear out the opium plants they have farmed all of their lives and plant other crops more suitable to their standing in Jesus Christ.
By removing the opium plants, they risk beatings and persecution by the drug warlords who rely on these farmers to supply them with their opium. But the new believers stand tall. Their response: If you take our lives we will be with Jesus forever.
Telling the Story
Because so many of the unreached people groups of the world are illiterate and have no Bible in their language, the Jonathans are trained to tell the story of the Bible orally and chronologically from Genesis to Revelation. The Jonathans then, in turn, train the new believers how to tell the Bible story chronologically.
The Jonathan Project is finding, identifying, training, and releasing global Jonathans to plant multiplying house churches among very difficult unreached people groups. Because we teach people who teach others, who then teach others (2 Timothy 2:2), we are praying and working toward the objective of planting more than 100,000 churches among the unreached people groups over the next five years! As this unfolds, the world will witness a true church planting movement taking place in our generation. These global Jonathans believe this can and will happen over these next five years!
Graydon Jessup and his wife, Judy, head The Jonathan Project. Visit their blog at graydonandjudy.blogspot.com or contact Graydon at email@example.com.