This is an article from the May-June 1998 issue: The Mission to the “Aucas”

Prayer Is the Key to OMF/REAP Adopt-A-People

Prayer Is the Key to OMF/REAP Adopt-A-People

Strategy Success

From its earliest days when it was known as the China Inland Mission until today, Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) is one of the great success stories of missions history.

Their passion and commitment to boldly go where no one has gone before to reach unreached peoples with the gospel is reflected in their current strategic venture called REAP, which stands for: Reaching East Asia’s Peoples.

Dave Dougherty, Assistant to the U.S. National Director of OMF, believes that REAP—OMF’s Adopt-A- People Strategy—is the key to accomplishing the organization’s goal of reaching East Asia’s 100 most unreached peoples with the good news of Jesus Christ’s salvation.

“I am personally convinced that the Adopt-A-People (AAP) strategy is the greatest tool we have to mobilize resources and penetrate the final frontiers,” said Dougherty.

In 1993, OMF launched REAP as a mobilization tool to plant churches among the most-difficult-to-reach peoples in East Asia. Key to their success has been prayer and encouraging churches to adopt one or more of the 100 targeted groups. By narrowing their focus, OMF has been better able to maintain lines of communications with churches, Bible study groups and individual families who have chosen to partner with them through adoption.

“Our adoption program is a commitment to strategic prayer,” said Dougherty, “without the solicitation of funds.”

Measuring Progress

While REAP has seen work begin among 68 of the 100 targeted unreached people groups, it is also noteworthy that other ministries have partnered with OMF in adopting 34 of these 68 groups.

Currently there are regular updates going out on nine or ten of the REAP unreached groups, which is one area OMF is tartgeting for improvement in their adoption strategy. “We are attempting to be more faithful in our updates because new information is crucial to a prayer ministry,” said Dougherty.

OMF has been in existence for 135 years with at least 80 of those years serving under the former name of China Inland Mission. With famous missionaries like Gladys Aylward and others, they have long identified themselves as an agency called to reach peoples little or never before exposed to the gospel.

Dave Dougherty believes that praying for unreached peoples in the 10/40 Window geographical area of the world has been helpful, but he is quick to point out that 70 percent of the unreached peoples are found in the right side of the 10/40 window— which happens to be where OMF is focused.

The reason Dougherty feels so strongly about AAP is because “it’s ideal for churches looking for a way to focus on missions, (therefore) we are continually trying to find ways to link churches with unreached peoples through adoption,”

Three Guidelines

From his own experience Dougherty provided the following helpful advice for churches considering adoption:

  1. Be willing to start small with your AAP program and let it grow. Maybe use one or two Sunday School or Bible study groups in your church to get started with the concept. “This is a lot easier than trying to go full blast, get the whole church involved and then having individual leaders who get a vision for adopting a people group get burned out because there isn’t a successful church-wide concert of prayer for your adopted people group every month,” said Dougherty.
  2. Be realistic about what your church can do. Dougherty points out that 80 percent of the unreached people groups are in what is known as “creative access countries,” where mission work has to be done almost in secret because security concerns are very significant.
  3. Try as much as possible to work with people who are on the ground in the unreached area working with the adopted people group. Try to arrange a visit with them. The greatest way for churches to have success with AAP is to get people involved on a number of different levels.


Dougherty also recommended the use of the USCWM’s Adopt-A-People resources and has found the most helpful tool to be the 52-page AAP manual, which is a how-to guide on adopting an unreached people group. (Dave is no stranger to the U.S. Center having worked as an assistant to Dr. Winter from 1981 to 1985. Readers of the Adopt-A-People Global Prayer Digest continue to benefit from Dougherty’s work today because Dave wrote the scripture lessons that are still used as a part of each month’s daily devotional.)

“Working at the Center was like a great graduate course in missiology and mission mobilization,” Dougherty said. This is one reason why Dave has such a great appreciation for the AAP program, but he also knows from seeing first-hand that the strategy works. He even cited examples of indvidual families who have adopted a people group and then participated in a church plant among the same people until their group was no longer unreached. But Dougherty likes to see whole churches get involved—like Faith Bible Chapel of Arvada, Colorado, who have adopted the Kazakhs—because he believes God has given Adopt-A-People to the global Church as a key way of fulfilling the Great Commission.

While each church’s experience with AAP is going to be different, depending upon their level of commitment, Dougherty believes “Every church should seriously investigate adopting an unreached people group.”

Editor’s Note: If you would like to pursue adoption as a possibility for your church, fellowship or family—or—if you are interested in learning more about adoption resources, please contact the US Center's AAP office at (626) 398-2200.

For further information on OMF and REAP contact Dave Dougherty at (303) 730-4160 or email him at: [email protected].


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