This is an article from the July-August 1995 issue: GCOWE 1995

Adopt-A-People: Racing from GCOWE ‘95 to AD2000

Strategic New Initiatives to Channel The Resources Of The Global Church Of Christ To the Unreached Peoples Of The 10-40 Window

Adopt-A-People: Racing from GCOWE ‘95 to AD2000

The AD2000 and Beyond Movement has challenged the world with the goal of a church for every people by the year 2000. The means of achieving this goal is becoming clearer all the time.

At the marvelous Global Consultation on World Evangelization, (GCOWE '95) Adopt-A-People emerged as the strategy of choice for the delegates to the Unreached Peoples Track. Adopt-A-People was the one strategy most often mentioned by various regional leaders as a top priority in reaching the peoples of their area. Dr. John Richard, the Associate International Director of GCOWE '95 said while at GCOWE, "Every congregation should adopt an unreached people because congregations are what will provide the prayer, support and the mobilization to uphold the missionaries and tentmakers to serve among these unreached people groups and they can link with the agencies."

In the GCOWE '95 Participants Handbook p. 100, John Robb, Coordinator of the AD2000 Unreached Peoples Network, issues a clear and heartfelt call, "The greatest requirement for effectively reaching unreached peoples is prayer. Jesus said, 'pray the Lord of the Harvest and He will send forth laborers . . .' (Matt. 9:36-38). Through the international Adopt-A-People Movement, churches and prayer groups are increasingly focusing intercessory prayer on particular unreached groups and seeing spiritual breakthroughs. The key is praying in a consistent and informed manner."

The Adopt-A-People program was developed by the U.S. Center for World Mission in 1980 and it has now become a worldwide movement. The response has been tremendous and has resulted in the release of much focused prayer and financial resources for many hundreds of unreached people groups. ,For example, the March, 1995 issue of Alliance Life, the magazine of the Christian and Missionary Alliance tells that in 1993 the C&MA offered 142 unreached peoples groups for adoption to their churches in the USA. These were peoples they were working among or planning to work among. In just two years 172 C&MA churches have adopted one of these people groups for prayer, financial support and other types of involvement.

But while Adopt-A-People is well established in the U.S.A. It's greatest success will doubtless be seen in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Africa, Asia, Latin America

A spectacular example of this took place in San Jose, Costa Rica in 1992. An Adopt-A-People Consultation was held by COMIBAM in which key mission leaders in all the countries of Latin America agreed to take responsibility for the adoption of definite number of unreached peoples by mission agencies and churches in their countries. The number was based on the proportional size of evangelicals in each country.

As a result Adopt-A-People Campaigns are underway in most Latin American countries. Patricio Paredes of Costa Rica is the COMIBAM Adopt-A-People director for all of Latin America and is working closely with the AD2000 and Beyond Movement. Moises Lopez of Comimex says, "Adopt-A-People is the simplest, most effective way churches of Mexico can participate in the goals of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement.

In Africa, Bayo Famonure, General Secretary of the Missions Commission of the Association of Evangelicals, has invited Phil Bogosian, Director of the International Adopt-A-People Campaign to conduct seminars in September for the leaders of the National Evangelical Fellowships of six countries in West Africa. Famonure stated that the Adopt-A-People program is indispensable to Africa's involvement in completing the Great Commission and plans to hold similar seminars all over Africa.

Throughout Asia more and more countries are beginning Adopt- A- People programs, including India, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines. According to Ebenezer Sunderaj, director of the India Missions Association, India has over 70 mission agencies in its Adopt- A-People program which is called Serve-A-People.

Met Castillo, Executive Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of Asia is convinced of the importance of the Adopt-A-People program and will be initiating multi-national seminars similar to those in Africa, to launch Adopt-A-People initiatives in the countries of Asia.

The basic idea underlying the Adopt-A-People program is to get dozens of churches or prayer groups praying regularly for a single unreached group. These churches would be encouraged to pray with increasing fervor as they received the regular updates that

missionaries send to adopting churches or prayer groups containing exciting reports of answered prayer within their people groups.

Great New AAP Media!

The Adopt-A-People Campaign of the U.S. Center for World Mission is now producing two new regular media tools to provide ongoing inspiration, information, prayer needs and "how to" articles for those in the movement.

One, the Adopt-A-People Global Prayer Digest, is a magazine focused on a different unreached people group every day, now published in Spanish, English and Korean.

The Center's International Adopt-A-People Campaign is also producing a quarterly Adopt-A-People news and prayer video called Global Countdown 2000. It is a perfect tool for prayer groups focused on the 10-40 window.

Avoiding Duplication

While prayer, and the release of finances are central purposes of the U.S. Center's International Adopt-A-People Campaign, another vital aspect is keeping the score. Where are we in our progress to complete the Great Commission? This information is not only important for the strategic focus of global prayer, but it is also crucial to mission agencies so they can avoid duplicating each other's efforts.

This duplication has become a serious problem for two reasons: scarce resources are wasted and harmful divisions are created. Mongolia serves as a vivid example of this problem. In the last 3 years, 2000 Khalka Mongolians have become Christians. Needless to say this is one of the most heartening breakthroughs in missions. The problem is that there are over forty mission agencies working there, when 2 or 3 would have been sufficient.

The 37 or 38 extra mission teams cost millions of dollars of scarce mission money. Moreover those missionaries could have been effectively deployed among other unreached groups. Another result has been the understandable and inevitable competition for converts by the various mission teams, creating unnecessary division and confusion. This has happened among many other people groups.

While commendable efforts have been made to create existing helpful databases these are not updated frequently enough to show that agencies in Argentina, Korea, Canada and South Africa are all planning to send missionary teams to the same unreached groups.

The Answer

To solve this problem the Adopt-A-People Campaign of the U.S. Center has established relationships with existing and forming AAP programs around the world to receive electronically all changes among unreached peoples with whom they are working in addition to any new initiatives to work among additional unreached people groups.

This data will then be synthesized and sent back electronically every month to each AAP campaign around the world as well as to major mission researchers. This data will, of course, be carefully encrypted to avoid any possibility of endangering pioneer missionaries or their ministry. This means that each month they would have a completely updated global database on the current status of work among the remaining unreached peoples.

This will avoid incredible duplication in that a mission agency in Korea contemplating sending a team to an unreached group in Borneo, could readily see that a mission agency in the Philippines was well along in their plans to field a team to the same group. They could then, either plan a joint effort, or select another group in Borneo with whom no agency is working.

Filling The Gaps

Two other research initiatives will fill in the gaps on the remaining unreached peoples. Mission agencies cooperating in the global AAP movement will be training and assigning their missionaries to spend a small but important part of their time to do ethnographic research on unreached people groups adjacent to their own work.

In addition to collecting data in this way, the International Adopt- A- People Campaign has been laying the groundwork to train and enlist evangelical students in third world countries for ethnographic research. Thousands of such students could be used to do grass roots people group research during their school breaks, in countries where more exact data is needed like India, Nigeria, etc.

It is hoped that this kind of "checkable" database will be a vital feature of a projected global meeting of mission agency leaders in 1996. In such a meeting any of hundreds of interested mission agency leaders could take responsibility for any of the remaining groups. The progress in each group could then be monitored on the AAP Database monthly so the global missions community could determine if more resources are needed for that group to be reached. In this way we can track the progress toward planting a strong church movement in every group by AD2000.,

To better coordinate the Center's International AAP Campaign, several USCWM staff members will open up a branch office of the Center in the Philippines, in the Metro Manila area. Phil Bogosian, the International Director will be there in July. Larry Boggan, the Assistant Director will be there in August. Two other staff members who are raising support will be there there in the next few months.

The move to Manila reflects the fact that most of the remaining task is in Asia and that 70% of evangelicals live in Asia, Africa or Latin America. They will be in constant communication with Pasadena by e- mail. The Center's U.S. AAP Campaign will be directed by David Imboden, Chairman of the Mobilization Division.

It is the goal of the International AAP Campaign in Manila to help every country with a significant evangelical community have a strong AAP campaign in their country by mid-1996, with active involvement in the AAP Database.

How About You?

At the end of his article in the GCOWE '95 Participants Book, John Robb asks the challenging question, "Is there one unreached people group for which I can especially take responsibility through prayer and mission involvement over the next five years?" As more and more churches, prayer groups, families and individuals around the world answer this question positively we will have a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000. It really can be done--it ought to be done--it must be done!


  1. If your church or group or family would like to adopt an unreached group, contact one of the mission agencies listed on page 33-35
  2. If you are interested in ordering the AAP Global Prayer Digest or the Global Countdown 2000 Video see pages 36-37
  3. If your mission agency would like to join the AAP Campaign contact the U. S. AAP Campaign for an application.

AAP Campaign 1605 Elizabeth Street Pasadena CA 91104 Phone: (818)398-2200 Fax: (818)398-2206 E-mail: [email protected]

Outside the U.S.

  1. If your church or group or family would like to adopt an unreached group, contact one of the AAP campaign offices listed in your country or region on page 33.
  2. To order materials check the AAP office nearest you for AAP resources they have produced or USCWM resources that have been translated or culturally adapted. Otherwise order from William Carey Library in the U.S. See pages 36-37.
  3. If your agency would like to be part of the AAP campaign in another country contact the office in that country for an application.
  4. For other information concerning the International AAP Campaign contact:

The address and phone number of the International AAP Campaign in Manila will appear in the next issue of Mission Frontiers.


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