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Central Asia is a land of rich history and mountainous landscape. It is where Alexander the Great and his armies marched from Greece, to Turkey, through the deserts of Turkmenistan, over the mountains of Tajikistan and on to India. His goal, and many rulers after him, was to control these lands, regardless of the people who inhabited them.

Today, the spiritual darkness of Islam dominates these lands. Many people live in the belief that they must follow the rules of Islam to have favor with God. They feel trapped by the rules of religion. So many here do things out of fear of God to earn entrance into paradise.

ENCOUNTER is excited to be a part of seeing Muslims become followers of Jesus! We are currently partnering with one family already in Central Asia (country code-named “Teahouse” for security) and are now launching another young family who are second generation global workers and have deep roots here in Ventura. The Global Outreach team at ENCOUNTER, as well as some of our other experienced global workers, have been mentoring and praying for them for many years. It is an honor for our church family to get to be a part of their lives and innovative ministry as professional mountain guides, while they represent Christ to those living in darkness. In case you haven’t met them yet, we would like to give you a brief introduction. We hope you will reach out and meet this family while they are here in Ventura!

(For security reasons, we will not be sharing their full names or the exact location where they will be working.)

We are D, M and Baby J. We grew up in Ventura, CA and both graduated from Biola University with degrees in Intercultural Studies in 2015. We have just moved back to Ventura and are preparing to serve in ministry in Central Asia through the organization, World Venture. We spent the past four years living in Eagle, Colorado where D worked as a mountain guide (rock climbing and alpine climbing), and M as a preschool teacher. We had our daughter, J in December 2020. Central Asia has always been a place we felt God might be sending us. We took a vision trip there in the summer of 2019, where we met our future teammates, and felt a strong confirmation that this was where God was preparing us to work.

We plan to live and serve in a country that struggles with poverty, unemployment and a myriad of social issues. The ultimate issue is spiritual poverty, as the majority of people practice a form of folk Islam. Currently there are about 2,000 Christ followers yet most are so burdened with the challenges of following Christ in such a dark place and few are equipped and resourced to share their faith with others in their country.

Our goal is to support the local church by discipling young believers. We plan to develop relationships with men, women and children throughout daily life and through our mountaineering work. We are passionate about reaching whole communities, particularly in engaging families.

This country is 93% mountainous, and yet there is very little infrastructure for tourism. We are joining a team who have started a non-profit that focuses on developing mountain tourism as an industry that will benefit people economically. We have plans to develop a mountain guide training program that would provide local jobs based on the mountain resources that already exist. We find any time spent with people in the mountains, and particularly climbing, provides natural opportunities for discipleship and sharing the gospel.

Our prayer is to be fully funded by fall of 2021 and head to the field at the end of January 2022. If you would like to help us serve these people in Central Asia, we’d love to invite you to partner with us in prayer and regular financial giving. We need to meet our budget in order to go. If you would like to join us this way, you can contact us by emailing Encounter’s Interim Global Team leader, Rob Gapper

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