This is an article from the November-December 2013 issue: Unleashing the Gospel Through Storytelling

From 16,800 to 1

Joshua Project's Unreached People of the Day

From 16,800 to 1

Research often stays on dusty bookshelves, rarely entering the minds and hearts of the masses. Joshua Project was started in 1995 to help the mission’s community know which ethnic people groups have few if any Christians. Then, the Internet was in its infancy and mobile apps only existed in science-fiction movies. Joshua Project was initiated as part of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement, to provide insight to mission organizations, but God has used it to bring awareness of unreached peoples to the Christian community. 

How do you help people comprehend the estimated 7,200 unreached people groups, let alone the world’s approximately 16,800 total groups?  Before people can comprehend what the research means, they must be exposed to it first. Joshua Project has succeeded in broadening exposure to unreached peoples, though this has been more from God’s providence than from strategic planning. 

In 2001, when Joshua Project first published the complete unreached people group list on a website, mission leaders and organizations were the audience. A website provided an inexpensive and quick way to make research available. Joshua Project was unsure who would be impacted, but God used it to influence a wide variety of Christians. The Internet and other later technologies enabled anyone who had access the ability to be exposed to the research. However, exposure does not equal inspiration.

Numbers and lists do not usually awaken hearts and minds and motivate people to act in deep ways. Thus, Joshua Project has never been content to simply fill minds with statistics and facts, but instead to expose Christians to the realities of people groups who live without access to the gospel. Unreached People of the Day was started in 2008 with this goal in mind. The idea was that if Christians were confronted with just one unreached people group, their interest in learning more, praying and eventually acting could be sparked. 

The Unreached People of the Day focuses on one people group each day and encourages concerted prayer. Initially, 366 unreached people groups, one for each day of the year, were randomly selected and simple profiles with a photo and map were created. Recently, a second set was developed to present a unique group for each day every two years. (Profiles for all people groups are available at

The Unreached People of the Day widget, which now appears on thousands of websites, was the first tool used to deliver each day’s group beyond the Joshua Project website. Today, the widget can also be displayed on a website in seven different languages.  Also now more than 17,000 subscribe by e-mail in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean. Thousands of others use it through the iPhone and Android apps and social media. Unreached People of the Day has not only helped people go from 16,800 to one; it has united thousands world-wide daily in prayer for the unreached. 


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