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October 1987


Editorial Comment

More and More People These Days Are Looking For A New Age

SFM: Practical Discussions Toward the Year 2000

AIMS First Annual Conference Mobilizes 800

Servanthood: Jesus' Model for Missions

Evangelizing the World in this Generation (1891)

Joshua Project: Identifying Unreached Peoples in Bangkok

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Identifying Unreached Peoples in Bangkok

—Trent Rowland

“We have reason to believe that today is a day of receptivity and opportunity in Bangkok. Yet I don’t find much clear understanding of what is involved in evangelizing that city,” said Mike Jaffarian, acting executive director of the Singapore Centre for Evangelism and Missions.

Jaffarian hopes Joshua Project will help change that situation. “The Joshua Project report could bring a tremendous breakthrough in mobilizing new and effective missionary efforts to Bangkok,” he said. “It will not only get people moving, it will get them moving in the right direction.”

Missionaries have been working in Bangkok, Thailand, for over 150 years, and while the church has grown, most of the converts are ethnic Chinese. Even though services are often held in the Thai language, few true ethnic Thai are found in congregations.

One national pastor said recently, “(The ethnic Thai) are very hard to reach. We don’t really know how to speak to them. They are not coming to our churches even though they are welcome.”

Some have suggested that the elaborately stratified Thai society may actually require several church planting movements before the church can begin to touch all of Bangkok’s social circles.

Recent research efforts in Bangkok have focused on identifying neighborhoods which have no churches. Such research has helped church planters identify where they want to plant churches, but the question still remains: who are the peoples within these neighborhoods? A Joshua Project team hopes to help answer that question.

Joshua Project, a part of the larger student mobilization ministry of Caleb Resources located at the U.S. Center for World Mission, sponsors short-term, cross-cultural research expeditions among unreached peoples. For three months, team members immerse themselves in a local culture. By building relationship with nationals, they seek to view the culture through the eyes of the local people and thus identify, locate, and characterize unreached peoples. The team then suggests strategies for planting churches among them.

After its biblical namesake who, along with Caleb, searched out the Promised Land and returned to mobilize God’s people to complete the task which God had entrusted to them, Joshua Project seeks to research unreached peoples around the world and mobilize the church to reach them.

In line with this goal, each Project expedition produces popular mobilization tools— magazine articles, slide/tape presentations, and videos—as well as a technical report tailored to the needs of missionaries and national Christian leaders.

Several past research expeditions in Asia and the Middle East have proven fruitful. One veteran missionary in the Middle East commented, “This . . . professional, analytical investigation has been necessary, refreshing and valuable to the witness of the church in this country.”

One hidden benefit of the Project expeditions is the experience and training each team member receives. Following a month of intense training, team members then begin their actual research. Such experience uniquely prepares them for long-term cross-cultural work among the world’s unreached.

Joshua Project staff have been conferring for many months with missionaries and national Christian leaders in Thailand. Both groups have encouraged the Project leaders to send a team.

David Robinson, OMF’s Bangkok superintendent, said that while population growth continues unabated (Bangkok’s population more than quintupled between 1950 and 1980), “Church planting work has plateaued, even come to a halt in some places. (I believe your) team’s findings will enable us to understand the need and match our limited resources to it in the most effective way.”

Joshua Project is still seeking a few more individuals to be part of the Bangkok expedition. If you, or someone you know is interested, call the Project at (818) 794-1532.   The Bangkok team will be finalized in November. Future expeditions are planned for other unreached cities.

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