The following article was written in 2010 and we recently pulled it out of the archives. To date, there is a missionary family on the field here with us and another on deputation to Greenland. With God all things are Possible!
When we think of Pioneering, we think of Adventure. We think of every young boy’s hero, Daniel Boone, the Trailblazer. There is a lot of adventure with being the first one to discover a new world. It is exciting to be the one making inroads into a new territory that has never been chartered before. What an adventure Daniel Boone had as he blazed the trail into that wilderness!
Pioneer missions is similar. What an adventure it has been to be the first Baptist missionaries into this spiritual wilderness! How exciting it has been to bring Good News from a far country! We have seen God do the impossible over and over again. We have seen God open the door to Greenland and give us the authority to invite others to this pioneer mission field. Wouldn’t you like to join the adventure and claim an unreached village for Christ!
When we think of blazing a trail, we think of Danger. It is not easy being the first ones. There are always things you never expected or planned on happening. On one of Boone’s trips, his son was captured and killed by Indians. This scared the settlers so much that they went back East. In those early years, most settlers traveled in large groups to better protect themselves against the dangers on the trail. Boone gained his fair share of battle scars to prove the dangers of settling a new territory. How we admire those brave men who sacrificed all to cut a road through the wilderness in hopes to find their “American Dream.”
There are dangers and trials lurking ahead of the pioneer missionary that he can never be fully prepared for, because no one has gone before and helped prepare the way. He can take classes, read books and do all he can to ready himself, but the path is an unknown path with unforeseen hardships. It is by God’s grace and by the prayers of His people that the pioneer lives to tell another day. Greenland has had its fair share of unforeseen trials of which I don’t have the space to go into. Missionaries are not involved in Missions in order to pursue the American dream, but to pursue the mind of Christ and fulfill His last commandment on this earth, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature!” Pioneer missions isn’t about staking land, but about claiming souls for Jesus Christ!
Lastly, when we think of cutting that trail into the wilderness, we think of Loneliness. The men with pioneering spirits were no doubt some of the bravest men to ever live, but sometimes even they got lonely. How many brave men have fallen, been wounded, or lost heart on this lonely path. Boone left family and friends behind and found 30 people willing to cut a trail through the wilderness. It was a lonely feeling being alone in that seemingly “God forsaken” wilderness.
The Arctic is by far one of the loneliest and isolated mission fields. There are no malls, no Wal-Marts and, of course, no McDonalds. Sometimes we are blessed just to have food on the shelves in the grocery stores. As bad as that sounds, the most disheartening feeling is the lack of Christian fellowship. There are no other missionaries in Greenland! There is no one to share the work with. There is no one to be encouraged by. On most mission fields, there are several missionaries within driving distance of each other. There is no doing that in Greenland - a place where there are No roads connecting the towns. The only way to get in or out is by plane. One plane ticket to the next town costs around $1,000. Imagine coming from the US. The cost of getting here has discouraged many from even visiting this spiritual wasteland. Our town of 5,000 is small in size and sits on the Disko Bay surrounded by mountains. Winter lasts around 9 months bringing with it 3 months of darkness and lots of snow. Imagine being stuck in such an isolated place with no way out! Yes, it is overwhelming. For years, we have begged God to send someone to help and encourage us on this needy mission field.
The Wilderness Road that Daniel Boone carved through the Cumberland Gap was at first steep and rough and could only be passed on foot or horseback. As more and more traveled this road, it was widened and made to accommodate wagons. Twenty-five years after Boone’s first attempt at trailblazing a path through this wilderness, over 300,000 men and woman followed the path he had marked.
We are slowly making a path into Greenland. The more folks that trod this path, the easier it will be for others to follow. Wouldn’t you like to be a Pioneer and tread where no Baptist has trod before!
Trailblazing at the Top of the World,
The Shull Family in Greenland
The Shull Family in Greenland