Author Archives: Jon Hirst

30th Anniversary

By Jon Hirst with Randy Rosso

As some of you already know, GMI is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Dating back to 1984, Global Mapping International (originally named Global Mapping Project) has been bringing light to decision making and has played a large role in shaping Global Mission over the years through research, mapping, and mission publishing.

In light of our milestone anniversary, we added a new page to our website highlighting ways in which you can celebrate with us this year!

Timeline: Take a historical look at the past 30 years of our ministry and key events that have brought us to where we are today.

30th Anniversary Missiographic: Join us in learning about 5 maps that changed missions and how the maps themselves have changed over the years with new technology and information.

In the Words of Others: See what our founder, our partners, and other missional leaders have to say about GMI and the 30 years of strategic mission and mapping research we have done.

“Global mapping fills a strategic place in the task of world evangelization. We need the kind of global database that GMI can provide.”
- Edward R. Dayton, Vice President, World Vision

Support! Whether it be financially, prayerfully, or in service, we would greatly appreciate your partnership which will allow us to continue to serve the mission community for another 30 years and more.

Special Annual Report: Annual reports can be hard to get through…but not this one. Featuring GMI’s 30 year timeline, 5 maps that heavily influenced Global Mission, retrospective thoughts from the board, and other highlights of GMI’s ministry, this annual report stands out from the crowd with more than just financial information. You pretty much get everything stated above and more, all in a wonderfully created, colorful PDF.

Celebration Events: Who doesn’t like getting dressed up to commemorate an anniversary or milestone? We would love to have you and cordially invite you to attend one of our two 30th Anniversary events. One of which will be in Colorado Springs, CO on November 8th and the other will be in Pasadena, California on November 22. Make sure to RSVP before October 30th!

Thank you for all of your continued support, partnership, service, and love. We couldn’t have done any of this without you, and we look forward to the future!

Praying for the Persecuted Church

By Jon Hirst with Randy Rosso

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is coming up in November. The first two Sundays of November (2nd & 9th this year) are recognized by the church as days to pray specifically for the Persecuted Church.

Hebrews 13:3 tells us, “remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

So what/who exactly is the persecuted church?

The persecuted church represents the 100+ million Christians around the world who are persecuted, or made subject to hostility and ill-treatment, for their belief in Jesus Christ. It is not a physical church or in a certain country, it’s globally.

The top 5 countries facing extreme Christian persecution are North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan with around 45 other countries being labeled at least moderately persecuted. The World Watch List has a really interesting map and list of the most persecuted countries right now.

Image source:

With ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq & Syria) declaring an Islamic State, killing tens of thousands of people, waging war against multiple nations, and declaring Christianity to be punishable by death, there is an enormous prevalence for the need to pray for the Persecuted Church.

How can we pray for and help the Persecuted Church? (website and resources from Religious Liberty Commission and World Evangelical Alliance) provides a list of free downloads for your use and distribution in praying for and helping the Persecuted Church. One of the resources, an extract of a sermon on what Christians can do to help, is very beneficial. A few of them include:

  • Mobilizing prayer (prayer events, email alerts from organizations involved in the persecuted church
  • Stay informed on the status of religious freedom worldwide
  • Volunteer or help with organizations and ministries involved
  • Give financially to an organization that works with the Persecuted Church
  • Be a spokesperson! i.e. social media, petitions, etc.

Operation World, an organization that created a prayer guide for every country and put it in a book, created The Persecuted Church Prayer Devotional. It provides you with one country per day along with the facts about the nation and prayer requests.

Another great way to pray for the Persecuted Church is by reading your Bible. The New Testament was written to Christians facing persecution, so it is a great resource for praying for them as well! Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusades for Christ) explains how to find Biblical prayers for the Persecuted Church along with other prayer resources. Click here to see Cru’s resources.

In closing, the Persecuted Church definitely needs our help and prayers. Two days a year is not even close to enough time dedicated to praying for the persecuted church, but thankfully we have the ability to pray for whatever we want, whenever we want. I encourage you to take a look at these resources, do some of your own research, and come up with your own ways of helping and praying for the Persecuted Church. Our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ need us, so let’s do something about it!

RSVP for Open Doors’ IDOP webcast here.

Also, stay tuned for a GMI Missiographic focused on this topic being released next Tuesday, October 28! Make sure you subscribe to the e-newsletter so you won’t miss it.

Missionary Retention: Going the Distance

By Jon Hirst (with Randy Rosso)

“If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” - Emil Zatopek

Missionaries who are called to cross-cultural service want to make a significant difference in the lives of those they go to help. They intuitively know that it is a marathon, not a sprint. But too many are being pushed to sprint and aren’t making it to the most productive times.

In a world where everything is expected to speed up and get more efficient, spiritual transformation and incarnational ministry still require long-term investment. You can’t speed up God’s work, as He works apart from time; however, we all seem to be trying to do just that: hurry Him up. With attention spans decreasing by the year, our modern world thrives off of quick, interesting, and constantly new ideas and processes.

Somebody once said to try to do things the right way the first time, because otherwise you will probably end up having to re-do it later. The same could be said about missions. Some agencies seem to be focusing on getting more and more missionaries sent, and not properly selecting, training, and supporting their current missionaries, causing them to leave. Efficiency is not always effective.

The cost of sending a missionary cross-culturally is significant, and sadly, too many aren’t making it to the 8-17 year window where statistically missionaries see the most fruitful service. High turnover has far reaching and widely spread effects, from the missionaries themselves, to the organizations, to the people they were serving, to other missionaries and staff at that agency. US agencies were found to have a varying 38-78% 10 year retention rate. This proves further the importance of the problem at hand.

So, how can we look at field service as a marathon and support these key field workers in their long-term service?

Our missionary retention infographic along with the reflection and application will provide you with some ways to go the distance and increase your missionaries’ effectiveness, rather than their efficiency.


Know & Go: Informing and Inspiring Global Mission - Click Image to Close

By Jon Hirst (with Randy Rosso)

GMI is coming out with a new book, Know & Go: Informing and Inspiring Global Mission. It is a brief and practical look at why KNOWING is important to your GOING on mission. Our team hopes this resource will allow you to make better, educated decisions in response to your calling as a Kingdom worker.

What is the purpose of acting without knowing what you want to act upon? You see this unfold in our personal lives, business, ministry, college, everywhere. So many people dive head first into things before learning about them. Learning from experience is not a bad thing, but the resources spent in trying to figure it out can be frustrating. Imagine researching something before attempting to act upon it. The time and resources saved would be enormous, and the outcome could be a lot more rewarding and effective. We try to highlight the importance of knowing what you want to do before you do it in this novel.

Besides providing insights about the role of information in mission, this book is also an inspirational call to action. I state in the final chapter, “God does not give us the grand gift of knowing for ornamental purposes. The reason we know is so we can go.” The question now remains: What are we going to do about it?

We all know the verse that holds Jesus’ instructions for us. Matt. 28:19 - “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations…” The Great Commission, as it is dubbed, is not a mere suggestion. It is our call, our mission, our goal. But so many of us go on mission knowing so little about the places and people we hope to reach with the Good News.

We can work at this in many ways, and one of the ways is going on mission. If you allow him, God will lead you to do great things for the Kingdom and will work through you in the lives of people around the world. What is God calling you to do?

This quick but motivating read will help you explore the power that KNOWING has in effective GOING on mission. As Matthew West says in his song, Do Something – “It’s not enough to do nothing. It’s time for us to do something.” We are the hands and feet of God’s work, if you allow yourself to be.

You mission, should you choose to accept it, is knowing what to do with all the information that surrounds us and then responding in obedience and going on God’s mission.

While this book won’t be available till November 1, you can pre-order your print copy today to receive 25% off. Click here!

Your Mission Starts with #ThrivingPeople


Exuberant, flourishing missionaries can have such an incredible impact on the Kingdom, if they stay in the mission field. Our survey provides your mission organization with the ability to reach into the hearts of your staff and find out if they are truly thriving.

All of us here at GMI are very excited about the launch of our latest project. It is a Field Missionary-Friendly employee survey called Engage.

We teamed up with Best Christian Workplaces to create this customized assessment to help agencies understand their global staff and make Spirit-led decisions to help them thrive. You may remember us doing this survey almost a decade ago, but it is revamped and even better this time around.

“The Engage Study is the best way to measure the health of those on your front line and strategically focus your resources to improve their effectiveness. The return on your investment in Engage could be significant.  Best Christian Workplaces Institute is thrilled to join with GMI to serve leaders supporting those ministering on the front lines,” said Al Lopus, Best Christian Workplaces Institute president. (GMI Press Release)

We launch the survey fully later this week at the Missio Nexus Conference.


As the latest Casting Crowns song, “Thrive,” goes, “We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive!” This is not only true in our everyday lives, but also in the mission field.

We, as brothers and sisters in Christ, all desire to see the unreached people of the world hear the great news of the Gospel and for peoples of all different origins and countries become disciples of Jesus. But this can only be achieved with effective missionaries that are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and thriving people is where it starts.

What does thriving people mean to you and your mission agency? This is the tagline of our campaign and we want to hear what you think thriving people equals. With fun photo contests on social media and at the Missio Nexus Conference, we are trying to raise awareness about the idea of thriving people.

What difference do thriving people make? You know the answer but what are you doing about it? Will you Engage with your missionaries and learn from what they have to say? Your mission depends on it!


Connect with us at for the full description along with prices, information about our #ThrivingPeople social media contest, and more!

Find us on Facebook, and You Tube,

How Can You Personalize Missions Recruitment? Understanding Five Categories of Searchers

Among all the possible workers for your ministry, how can you sift through those who have potential and personalize your connection with them?

Your website strategy and process for gathering contact information online can help you focus on those most likely to serve with your agency.

GMI research on the attributes of those searching has yielded five distinct profiles of searchers. Understanding and addressing the needs of each of these segments helps you develop specific strategies for each segment.


Scouts are serious about missions someday — when they finish school, pay off debt or obtain workplace experience that could equip them for service. The objective in creating a web experience for Scouts is to build engagement so that when the time for serving arrives, your agency has top of mind awareness.

Scouts are interested in understanding the identity of agencies and discovering resources that may be helpful to them — and others — as they proceed along their journey.


Strategists have clear focus and goals as they are exploring mission opportunities. Their actions on your agency website are designed to help them answer this basic question: “Does this agency do the kind of mission work that I feel led to do?”

Clarity of purpose leads Strategists to seek out specifics about what an agency is doing, how it is going about the work, and how they might fit into the picture.


Enthusiasts are excited about the prospect of cross-cultural ministry. Enthusiasts typically take time to explore your website and all aspects of your agency’s identity, including vision, focus, strategy, and beliefs.

A distinctive of the enthusiasts is that they are interested in specific information about opportunities for service (both short- and long-term), requirements and salary structure. They want to picture what it would look like for them to serve through your agency.

Faith Matchers

Theology matters more to some searchers than others. Faith Matchers believe their affinity with an organization’s statement of faith is an essential screening mechanism for considering a particular missions agency. Once the doctrinal questions are answered, Faith Matchers will explore mission and vision, geographical focus and cross-cultural mission opportunities, both long-term and short-term.


Tourists are focused on short-term opportunities as their avenue for cross-cultural engagement. This segment is experiential and wants to understand what a short-term opportunity would offer them. They want media-rich sites so they can see what happens in the field.

Agencies that offer a variety of short-term opportunities should develop a specific web strategy related to Tourists.

Segments and Strategy

While you may focus on one or two segments of searchers, a deeper understanding of all the segments can spark creative engagement strategies. Emphasizing key segments is important for effective recruiting, but understanding and accommodating a variety of paths to service can multiply your efforts.


Want to read more from Searching to Serve: Recruiting Kingdom Workers Online? The full report gives specific web strategies that your organization can use. Click the link to read more about the book by James Nelson and Carla Foote and purchase your copy today!

International Literacy Day: What do Oral Learners do in a World of Words

The majority of Africa, along with a few other countries, has a literacy rate of 75% or less. However, approximately 80% of the world (5.7 billion people) is classified as primarily oral communicators (

Why are so many people oral communicators? Technology. Andy Butcher states, “And in parts of the world with long-term high literacy rates, many younger people prefer to listen to, watch, or discuss something rather than read about it” (page 51, Seeing Your World). People, especially the youth, just don’t like reading.

Words and Women

Technology is not the only reason, however. The inability to access education also creates a barrier to literacy. This hindrance has caused women and girls to make up 2/3 of the world’s illiterate population due to their lack of access to education.

Not only that, but many women are faced with the responsibilities and duties of being the sole providers and care-takers for their families. (see Female Head of Household Map on page 14).  In addition to all of the stress and limitations, mothers are “victims of all evils within communities and societies,” according to Waghmare (page 17).  This in turn can lead to women having poor health and further decreasing their chance to become literate.

Spoken Possibilities

As technology becomes increasingly more advanced and spreads into areas of low literacy rates, it also becomes simpler and easier to use for both literates and non-literates.  Examples of this can be seen in all the latest smartphones and apps.  Siri, equipped with speaking capabilities, can speak and type the information that you requested.  The information is then available to both someone who can read and to someone who cannot.  Also, all apps are represented on a tablet, iPad, smartphone, etc. as icons (sometimes with or without words), rather than just a word or words.  These new advances encourage orality rather than literacy.

Reframing Evangelism and Discipleship

The Church has had a large focus on developing literate Christian leaders so that they could be more effective thinkers and doers.  Stan Nussbaum, an expert in African Missions, thinks differently.  His thoughts on this traditional development “has been tragically handicapped by attaching it so exclusively to literate methods” (page 53).  Literate methods are still needed and very important to global missions; however, a focus on non-literate tactics in areas where the people are primarily oral communicators could see tremendous success.


To learn more about Seeing Your World or to purchase a copy, please visit

Is Your Ministry Challenge a Puzzle or a Mystery

The type of research and thinking required in global mission has fundamentally shifted and few have taken notice. I don’t say this to be controversial, I say it because today I see people asking last century’s questions and hoping for 21st Century insight.

Most of our line of inquiry in mission is assuming that we simply do not have the information and need to collect it in order to understand our world better and make decisions. This was the case in the mid-1900’s when the amount of activity and complexity of the activity were fairly limited. In those days the question, “Where is the church and where is it not?” “How many Christians are there in a given country or province?” “Where is a Scripture translation underway and where is a translation needed?”

In today’s globalized world the complexity is much higher but the amount of information we have is also exponentially greater. Today’s complex world requires us to ask questions that will overlay various pieces of the information already collected to give us insight to very specific situations.

The difference between a line of research defined by a lack of information and a line of research defined by multiple streams of complex or conflicting information is described in Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article, “Open Secrets” (reprinted in his book “What the Dog Saw”). In this article Gladwell applies Gregory Treverton’s principle of “Puzzles vs. Mysteries.” Simply put, when solving a puzzle the main ingredient needed is more information. However, when solving a mystery the main ingredient needed is insight.” Gladwell goes on to give very practical examples. Finding Osama Bin Laden was a puzzle whereas understanding Enron’s fall was a mystery. The first required information in the form of intelligence. The second required people to go through mind-numbing amounts of publicly filed paperwork and understand the complex financial tools being employed in risky ways.

In the missions world today, we have fewer puzzles and more mysteries. There are still places in the world where we simply need more information. There are countries like Laos, North Korea or parts of India where we truly need more basic information about the Church and the status of the Gospel. However, for most of the world you can get this information at one level or another.

Our greater challenge involves the mysteries of mission. For instance, “How do we know when a church is sustainable?” “What triggers growth in a national Church?” “How do we measure and understand discipleship?” “How do we reach a people group when so many are in cities and in diaspora communities?”

For each of these items we have a myriad of data points, on-the-ground stories and theories. The challenge is to work through the data and the complex situations to try and come up with possible ways to understand these questions and make decisions based on that understanding.

If what Gladwell described is really the situation facing mission, that has significant implications for the mission community. For one thing, we need fewer counters and more analysts. We need fewer people out collecting data in the field and more people analyzing what we already have. We also need people who are able to understand complex cultural, religious and geopolitical realities.

Secondly, those of us in leadership need to recognize the difference between the puzzles and mysteries and think strategically about what we are trying to solve. Many of us are mobilizing the resources necessary to solve a puzzle when we really have a mystery on our hands.

The last century required persistent puzzle solvers but this new century will require inquisitive detectives who love a good mystery. Do you have any good detectives in your mission agency? If not, now is the time to start looking.

The People Have Spoken - Top 5 Missiographics

Last September we launched our Missiographics Service. So instead of sending out a new infographic this week, we decided to bring together the 5 most popular ones we have produced based on the amount of people that have viewed them. These infographics provide very unique information on topics ranging from church planting, globalization and growth of the church in Brazil and Indonesia.

We hope that taking another look at these will give you the chance to engage with the content in a deeper way, allowing you to revitalize your mission efforts with our research findings. Also, for those of you who are new to our bi-monthly emails, our prayer is that this Top 5 collection will give you a quick look at what Missiographics are about along with providing possibly some of the most relevant information we have collected thus far.

NOTE: Click on the image to visit the Missiographic Page on our site.

1. Global Bible Searches - What Are People Searching For?

Have you ever wondered what passages people around the world were searching for?
Thanks to Bible Gateway (, we are able to bring you that information so that you can get to know the people you are trying to reach better.






2. What Roles Should Individuals and Nations Play in Global Church Planting?

Church planting can seem fairly simple, but many questions arise like who, where, when, and how. This infographic, thanks to the Global Church Planting Network, will help you understand the size of the challenge, the types of roles needed and some examples of who should fill them.






3. Indonesia: THINK BIG!

Indonesia is a vastly underrated country for how BIG it is. This infographic will help you better understand the religious makeup, population, geography, and more.








4. Brazil: An Emerging Force in Global Mission

Brazil has been in the headlines a great deal recently, from the World Cup and the upcoming Olympics to economics and poor living conditions. But did you know that the Brazilian Church has been impacting the mission field immensely?






5. On Mission in a Moving World

In the world today, there are many people moving from place to place, and a large amount of them are moving due to extreme pressure from war, trafficking, and others. This infographic will help you meet them where they are now.