Who we are


1979: Gairdner Trust Ministries
The Lord raised up a unique vision through Ron George who established the ministry in 1979 in the UK under the name “Gairdner Trust Ministries. It was named after Temple Gairdner, a Scottish missionary who laboured among the Muslims of Egypt in the early part of the twentieth century.

The leadership of Gairdner Trust Ministries was deeply moved by events coming out of one of the first trips into Central Asia. A UK member met an Uzbek Christian who was desperate for the Scriptures in his own language. The following year when that member returned to deliver the Scriptures, he learned that the Uzbek Christian had been arrested and placed in a psychiatric hospital. He later heard that an overdose of drugs was administered to this Christian and he died in the hospital.

1980’s: Researching Central Asia and educating the church in the West
The first years of Gairdner Trust Ministries were devoted to raising awareness among the Church in the West about the needs of Central Asians. Muslim awareness seminars were held, prayer fellowships started, literature published, and inquiries about Central Asian Muslims were answered. Pioneer researchers were sent to the then little-known areas of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Xinjiang in Western China. Wherever our researchers went they found millions of Central Asian Muslims who desperately needed the Saviour. Churches in the West had little or no information about these people.

Gairdner Ministries began to publish People Group Profiles on a regular basis and longer ethnographic research reports called SCANs (Society of Central Asian News) were also developed. Muslim Peoples News started to be distributed. The more that was published, the more that was taught, and the more traveling that was done, the more the ministry grew. Soon others wanted to get involved.
Prayer groups were started, and the publications continued to make many thousands aware of these unreached Muslim peoples. Additional members joined and a three-week annual Islamics course was started, which was also used as the training and orientation for introducing people to the organisation. As the vision grew so did the work. Evangelistic work began among Central Asian Muslims residing in Western Europe and North America – particularly among those who had recently come from countries which were basically closed to Western Christians living there. Some teams were then formed in these western cities, to reach the Turks and Kurds and other Central Asians living there with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Up to this point, most of the ministry was centered in the UK and Europe, although some efforts were being started indirected toward North America and Turkey.


1987: Renamed “People International”

In 1987 the leadership of Gairdner Trust Ministries decided to change the name of the organisation name was changed to People International (PI), and a new focus was added. Not only were they committed to educating the Western Church about Islam and Central Asian Muslims, but also more direct efforts in evangelism and church planting began to take place among Central Asians in Central Asia.
With this new thrust, short-term teams were sent into “closed” areas of Central Asia, and where possible we started to place long-term teams were established.
In addition to the UK office being opened in 1979, new “National Offices” were opened in the USA (1986), the Netherlands (1987), Germany (1991), Australia (1993), New Zealand (1994) and Canada (2007). There was a South Korean Office from 2012 until 2018. Efforts are being made to recruit from South America.


1991: Focusing the Ministry
In 1991 Clive Pritchard took over the leadership of People International. With the political changes taking place in Central Asia as a result of the collapse of communism, new opportunities opened for “tentmakers” to live and serve in these countries. The former emphases on educating the Western church about Islam and facilitating ministry among displaced Central Asian Muslims living in the West were mainly set aside in light of this unprecedented opportunity for ministry directly among the millions of totally unreached Muslims representing hundreds of ethnic groups. PI sharpened its vision, focusing its priority on church planting in Central Asia itself, placing long-termers on various fields throughout the broader Turkic and Persian worlds—from Turkey in the West to North-West China in the East, and from Tatarstan in the North to the Central Asians living in Pakistan E.g. Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Turkmen. Humanitarian projects were established that addressed some of the physical needs that members encountered, and also giving members access into Central Asian society. By the end of the decade nearly half of PI’s field based members were living in Uzbekistan.


1999 -2004: Workers begin to be expelled
Beginning in Turkmenistan, but spreading to other countries as well, Central Asian governments became increasingly hostile towards the presence of foreign mission workers. Turkmenistan expelled all the PI workers in 1999 to 2000 and in 2006 problems began in Uzbekistan, culminating in the expulsion of most foreign workers by 2008. Many of these members moved to other parts of Central Asia such as Kyrgyzstan or Turkey and some began to develop a non-residential training strategy, inviting key believers from harder to access countries to come for short training sessions in easier countries. Also at this time PI began to recruit Central Asians who wanted to minister via radio, TV and internet. At this time PI began to use a NRM (non-residential missionary) strategy. In areas where it was impossible or almost impossible to reach nationals in their homelands, this strategy is very effective. People can live in one country, whether in the West or even in a more free Central Asian country, and minister via radio, TV or internet. Also, PI workers can go in to train national believers or nationals can travel outside their homelands to be trained by NRM’s in another country. Most of this effort has been focused on Turkmenistan but not exclusively.


2000’s: Reorganisation and Expansion
At the beginning of 2007 Clive Pritchard stepped down as International Director, and, a new International Director was appointed. Michael Johnson, formerly a leader in Pioneers, was released with their blessing and took up the role in July 2007. He began a restructuring of PI which was completed in the summer of 2010.
This restructuring saw the establishment of four regions within the area that PI works, each with its own regional leader. Following this ministries were started in areas where PI had not worked before, particularly in the Muslim areas of Russia and China.
During these years work continued in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and PI was involved in various humanitarian initiatives, particularly in Pakistan. In the late 2000’s and into the decade of the 2010’s PI was able to expand its work into what we now call “Greater Central Asia” where other Central Asian Muslims live and originate from, such as in various areas of China and Russia. PI is also open to committing people to the diaspora of Central Asian Muslims as God leads.


2010’s: Consolidation in Turkey, changes in leadership
During these years there were a number of changes in leadership in PI. New national office directors were recruited, and new regional leaders appointed. In 2016 Michael Johnson stepped down as International Director and Dr Mike Wall was appointed. Mike had previously been the Principal of All Nations Christian College in Ware, UK. Dr Ruth Wall became Director of Training. Also during these years PI teams were established in cities outside Istanbul in Turkey for the first time; and the doors began to open again in Uzbekistan, leading to the re-establishing of teams in Tashkent. By contrast, following the annexation of Crimea by Russia, long-term work in Russia became increasingly difficult.

The 2020-2021 pandemic
During the pandemic most PI workers stayed on the field despite many enduring harsh lockdown conditions. Like many other organisations, much work began to be done using online forums, for training and ministry.
God Gave the Increase
People International is fully committed to sending long-term members who move into the heartlands of these peoples, equipping, training, and enabling these members for effective ministry. They are challenged to cultivate relationships among the Muslims and ultimately work to establish Christ’s church all across what we call “Central Asia”.

Our focus has unreservedly remained upon establishing and enabling the church planting in Central Asia. At the same time, along with direct evangelism, discipleship, and leadership training, PI has been used by God to relieve much suffering among those in need. Humanitarian projects have been established in many of the countries. Caring for orphans, performing thousands of eye surgeries, training doctors, digging water wells, building schools, and teaching mothers to care for their children with cerebral palsy, are some of the projects PI has been involved in. These projects also allowed PI’s members access into CA society.

Furthermore, PI members have also been involved in Bible translation, since this is a key ministry for the establishing of the Church and building up believers. PI members have been involved in many different Central Asian Bible translation projects.

People International continues to be fully committed to sending long-term members who move into the heartlands of these peoples or wherever they are found, equipping, training, and enabling these members for effective ministry with the goal of seeing local churches established and built up in the nurture of the Lord. They are challenged to cultivate relationships among the Muslims and ultimately work to establish Christ’s Church all across what we sometimes call “Greater Central Asia.”