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

Not the Same Person

They had been watching how often I called Stephanie out to the build site to consult her wishes and were willing to listen to why we had unconditional love and respect for each other.

By: Joshua Lewis
June 01 2024, 2:20 pm | Comments 0

Life with the Great River People

When we have worship, I pray for the Great River People. My family is a team. We work together to tell people about Jesus.

By: Nathan Lewis
June 01 2024, 9:07 am | Comments 0

Soaked but Still Alive

I squinted as the evening sun shone through the coconut palms, a shocked look still lingering on my face from the peril of the story. “God definitely protected you!” I said.

By: Carly Tirado
May 01 2024, 8:40 am | Comments 0

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

Please pray that I will find an opportunity to share Jesus with Dehaw and others. They are wonderful people.

By: Joshua Lewis
April 01 2024, 8:47 am | Comments 0

Reshaping the Land

Like the water that flows and shapes the land, our actions have lasting effects on the future.

By: Carly Tirado
March 01 2024, 9:10 am | Comments 0

Choose Your Own Adventure:  DBS and the Rabbit Church

Discovery Bible Study puts the elements of the early church into your study time so that by the time they know what a church is, they will already know how to run one.

By: Josh Lewis
February 01 2024, 2:22 pm | Comments 0

In His Honor

Pray for us as we cast new nets into our community, looking for those who, like Srey Neang, are thirsting for the water of life, our friend Jesus.

By: Carly Tirado
January 01 2024, 10:45 am | Comments 0

Soty and Vari

Pray that they will make Jesus the King of their lives, counting the cost and counting it joy.

By: Josh Lewis
December 01 2023, 9:56 am | Comments 0

Manan:  Big Liver. Even Bigger Heart.

Pray that we can use this time together to disciple Srey Neang into a soul winner with a vision to reach her people for Jesus. Pray that Vanna will take a stand for Christ. Pray that the testimony of what God has done for them will be too good not to share.

By: Josh Lewis
November 01 2023, 9:02 am | Comments 0


How she has survived these past five years despite never having a minute to care for her own needs is a true testament to the love of a mother and the sustenance of God.

By: Carly Tirado
October 01 2023, 11:00 am | Comments 0

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