Great River People

  • Pre-Entry
  • Pre-Evangelism
  • Evangelism
  • Discipleship
  • Phase-Out
  • Completed

About the People

About 230,000 Great River People border the Mekong River and live near Southeastern Asia’s major cities, such as Phnom Penh. Extremely poor, they survive by farming, fishing, building boats, metalwork and light commerce. Their bamboo homes are elevated to protect against flooding, and their diet consists of fish, rice and vegetables. Because so many men were killed in the 1970s, the Great River People’s line of descent is now traced through the women. The rural Great River People practice folk Islam, mixing veneration of the dead with magic and Muslim tradition (a blend of Animism and Islam). Outside efforts to promote Islam have stepped up recently, and the Great River People define themselves more by their religion than their historical origins. There are no known churches or scriptures among this people group.

The Great River People are an unreached Muslim people group in Southeast Asia, numbering around half a million. The opportunity for them to hear about the Savior and His truth for these last days is now! Muslim missionaries from overseas are seeking to make them more orthodox.

About the Project

Since the first millennium A.D., when advanced civilizations of the present-day country in Southeast Asia populated the area, this Asian country has had a checkered history. A protectorate of France for nearly 100 years and a monarchy on and off since 1953, this Southeast Asia region has been decimated by decades of civil war and corruption. An estimated 1.5 to 3 million were killed during Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge reign when money, medicine, religion and education all but disappeared.

Bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand, the nearly 70,000 square-mile country is 95 percent Buddhist (mostly Khmer people), three percent Islam (mostly Great River People), and only two percent are Christian. Textiles and tourism provide most of the hard currency. This region’s temperatures range from 50-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The wet season (May-October) and dry season (November-March) are both ushered in by tropical monsoons.

As our missionaries convey that we are people of faith—through simple prayer ministry, spiritual conversations and kindness—they gain people’s confidence and, by God’s grace, win their hearts for Jesus. The goal is to plant groups of believers who can spread this message throughout the entire people group.

One of the keys to reaching the Great River people is health ministry. By using simple health remedies, assisting the sick to find organizations able to help, and through the work of short-term medical teams, AFM missionaries have won many people’s confidence and hope to begin a small health clinic to meet the overwhelming need better. The Great River people have a tremendous desire to learn English, and teaching English to elementary-age students is an avenue to reach these people. Plans include expanding classes for older learners in the future.

People-Group Facts

  • Population: 230,000
  • Trade Language: Khmer
  • Religion: 88% Islam, 10% Hindu.

Frontier Stories

I Have a Dream

As we demonstrate to others that we love them, we will give short personal testimonies to allow them the opportunity to signal when they are open to transformation.

By: Joshua Lewis
July 01 2022, 2:28 pm | Comments 0

He Does Not Need Me Anymore

Looking back, we can see the growth from when we first arrived, and we cannot help but thank God for His patient guidance and provision.

By: Carly Tirado
July 01 2022, 11:31 am | Comments 0

New Digital Missions to the Great River People

Our time spent together praying and studying the Word has been of great inspiration and encouragement to him in his efforts to reach out to others in his community.

By: Eric & Carly Tirado
May 01 2022, 10:21 am | Comments 0

Exciting News x 2

We have many dreams for using this land, and we ask that you pray for God to lead us on the most fruitful path.

By: Carly Tirado
March 01 2022, 9:05 am | Comments 0

We’ve Had It! (COVID, That Is)

We will treasure our mission property with trees and trails more than ever, thankful our sense of smell has fully returned, and appreciative of the rejuvenating scents of nature.

By: Joshua Lewis
March 01 2022, 8:56 am | Comments 0

Chiruh - and Her Miraculous Healing

“If you are healed from this without amputating, then we KNOW it was God who healed you. Because human doctors have told us there’s no hope.”

By: Carly Tirado
January 01 2022, 3:02 pm | Comments 0

Righteous Traitors

The stories of the faithfulness of Daniel and his three friends have encouraged Katiet to be faithful no matter how much shame and ridicule he experiences.

By: Eric Tirado
December 01 2021, 8:46 am | Comments 0

Friend of Muslims?

If only my grandma knew that my job is to turn her enemies into her friends!

By: Joshua Lewis
November 01 2021, 8:28 am | Comments 0

Time With Chiruh

With tears in her eyes, she has thanked me for all I have done so far. She is ashamed she has nothing to give back to me, though I assure her I need nothing in return. I am on a journey with Chiruh, and I do not know where it is going. But I hope to point her to Jesus along the way as much as I can.

By: Carly Tirado
October 01 2021, 4:18 pm | Comments 0

Seeking You as a Precious Jewel

Will I remember that the next time someone steals my honey or overcharges me because I am a foreigner? Yes, if I continue feeding my soul with God’s word.
Let us be so changed that we feel selfish if we do not share the Gospel by living it before others.

By: Joshua Lewis
October 01 2021, 3:37 pm | Comments 0

Back to top