This is an article from the November-December 1992 issue: Building the Mission Bridge

How Can All Peoples Be Reached By The Year 2000?

An Address to the ISFM, Kansas City, Missouri Sept 17-19, 1992

How Can All Peoples Be Reached By The Year 2000?

This year we celebrate the bicentenary of William Carey who is known as the father of modern day missions. Carey arrived in India in 1792. One hundred years later A.T. Pierson made the statement: "At this centenary of William Carey; God's signals flash like lightning and boom like thunder around the sky. By every mightiest argument and most persuasive appeal; by every motive drawn from a world's need and our opportunity; by every open door and loud cry; by every Scripture prophecy and promise, and by every unfolding of Providence, Christ is just now saying to His Church, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.'"At the bicentenary of William Carey we can readily say "A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by the Year 2000." And borrowing from D.L. Moody--who believed the world could be evangelized by the year 1900--we might add, "it can be done, it ought to be done, it must be done."

African Example

Perhaps, this has never been quite so clear to me as when standing one month ago amidst more than 12,000 black African ministers of the gospel from more than 2150 African denominations and forty five countries. With hands raised toward heaven they were all praying aloud together as William Kumuyi was being commissioned as regional coordinator of AD 2000 for Africa. Kumuyi is pastor of the largest church in Africa, with missionaries in 35 countries and many languages of Africa, and meetings in 600 districts in Lagos. Minutes before, the Africa 2000 Declaration had been signed personally by more than 10,100 ministers. This was a moment of dedication--not only for William Kumuyi--but for each one of them to the task that they had set for themselves as they declared:

  1. We meet in the recognition of our historical background of civil wars and tribal strife but we join together as one body in Christ, standing on the promises of the Word of God and believing that God loves Africa and wants to use Africa for his glory. While poverty and starvation and AIDS threaten many across the land we know that the Church is the pathway to peace and prosperity and is the salt of the earth.
  2. We acknowledge that the enormous and diverse problems we face in society in Africa are due in part because the church has not taken up its role as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Further, we have been so taken up with our own problems that we have not looked upon the spiritual needs of the African countries in North Africa and other parts of the world.
  3. We repent and humbly confess our sins of omission and commission as a church, as well as the collective sins of the countries that we represent from all of Africa.
  4. We thank God for the missionaries who have come, beginning with Robert Moffat, a little less than 180 years ago and for the advance of the gospel in Africa and the size, the scope and the commitment of this generation's African church. We recognize that we have sometimes struggled with our missionary friends from overseas. We regret that they did not train and prepare us for cross-cultural missions. We also recognize that we have experienced division between denominations. For this disunity we repent before Almighty God.
  5. We acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit in adding to the church those who are being saved in the continent of Africa such that there has been a remarkable growth of the church during this century. We also acknowledge the emergence of new forms of biblical Christianity from the African soil.
  6. We consider that we are living in a singular moment in the history of the church as we move toward the year 2000 and believe that God has graciously opened a window of opportunity for reaching all of Africa by the year 2000 and also participating together with Christians from other cultures in seeing a church for every people and the gospel for every person in the world by the year 2000.
  7. Furthermore, we acknowledge the biblical, historical and current day importance of intercessory prayer as a primary strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission.

For the complete text of the seven resolutions following these seven declarations, see page 11.

As we observe the remarkable spiritual initiative of the church in the two-thirds world today, as this movement in Africa suggests, we can be both encouraged and expectant that the obstacles can be overcome so that there will be a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000.

"The supreme question of the hour for the Christian," said A.T. Pierson 100 years ago, "is the evangelization of the world by the end of the century." Today it again is the supreme question of the hour for the Christian.

In fact, we have much to rejoice about when we compare the state of Christianity with that of Carey's day. In his Enquiry Into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen, Carey estimated that fewer than one-third of the countries of the world had any gospel witness. Today we are not only talking about every country but also every ethno-linguistic people group in every country of the world.

The question before us at this consultation is: What will it take so that all peoples be reached by AD 2000?

I. For all peoples to be reached by the year 2000, the biblical priority needs to be affirmed in the mission agencies and among the local churches around the world.

A. Explanation:

The highest priority in missions today is not only cross-cultural evangelism but cross-cultural evangelism to the unreached. Let me repeat that. The highest priority in missions today is not only cross- cultural evangelism but cross-cultural evangelism to the unreached. Today's biggest challenge is to reach the unreached. The single most important task is to see that a viable indigenous church be established within each ethno-linguistic group of people.

B. Biblical Evidence:

"A world having turned from God," Graham Scroggie wrote in his book The Drama of World Redemption, "He left it and chose a Man through whom He would ultimately by Christ reach the lost." That man was Abraham. The first major act of God following the formation of the different ethno-linguistic peoples and the scattering of the human families of the earth by language groups was the divinely initiated missions mandate for blessing to be experienced among each of these families. The Call of Abraham in Genesis 12 was with the promise of being a blessing to all the families of the earth. As the father of God's people--including Israel and all who believed--you and I as believers were in Abraham and called to be a blessing. Dr. Bruce Waltke, who co-authored the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, assured me that from his perspective both the Old Testament and the New Testament missions mandate have an ethno- linguistic people group focus.

Jesus instructed his followers to disciple panta ta ethne, all the nations, all the ethno-linguistic or people groups.

In Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus how to recognize the time of His coming and the end of the age. Jesus described to them some of the signs of the end time. He said there would be noise of battles, famines, earthquakes as well as strong persecution among those who follow Him. But then Jesus becomes more specific concerning His return when He says in verse 14, "And this good news about the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all peoples and then the end will come."

You can trace the thread of the concept of nations or people groups through the Scriptures all the way to Revelation, the last book in the Bible. They will be there from all languages and peoples. God's eternal concern for the unreached peoples is clearly expressed in:

Rev. 7:9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Rev. 5:9 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation."

These unreached peoples have been called by such different labels as hidden peoples, frontier peoples, by-passed peoples, unpenetrated peoples, or unreached peoples, but they represent the target peoples in God's plan.

II. For all peoples to be reached by the year 2000, the reasons for progress towards the goal need to be understood and the do-ability of the task affirmed.

In a survey of Christian leaders around the world, in preparation for the upcoming Global Consultation on World Evangelization by the Year 2000 and Beyond, the question was asked, "How do you know that the world has been reached?" The vast majority of the 1100 respondents from 60 countries said "a viable church among every unreached people group in the world."

There is a growing conviction of the do-ability of the task. Never in the history of the church has the completion of the Great Commission been as feasible as it is today. The number of Great Commission Christians is proportionately higher than ever, and the church is more international than ever, the resources available to us are greater than ever, and our understanding of the task before us is clearer than ever. We no longer talk of 2.4 billion unreached individuals, we now talk of a few thousand unreached people groups.

When Donald McGavran reviewed the responsiveness of the people movements in the Punjab with Fred and Margaret Stock, who wrote the book by that name, he developed the need to focus on people groups in his book The Bridges of God. Simultaneously in Guatemala, Cameron Townsend was confronted by the Indian who said, "If your God is so great why can't he speak my language?" Consequently, Wycliffe Bible Translators was started to translate the Word of God in the language of each people.

A watershed in the concept of unreached people groups was at Lausanne I in 1974 when Ralph Winter spoke on the subject of cross-cultural evangelism. Very casually he said "...there are still 2.4 billion people beyond the range of present efforts of any existing church or mission." At the closing session of the 1974 gathering--which Time Magazine called the most formidable forum of Christians ever to gather together--Billy Graham picked up on Ralph's concern when he said, "It is not enough that we witness to our near neighbors, we must cross cultural and linguistic barriers with the Gospel."

All these years the U.S. Center for World Mission has maintained a consistent focus on the unreached peoples, which has significantly influenced the way we look at missions. In his capacity as Chairman of the Strategy Working Group of Lausanne and Director of MARC of World Vision, Ed Dayton continued a strong emphasis on the unreached peoples, incorporating practical strategies in the book Planning Strategies for World Evangelization. David Barrett has contributed significantly with his strong emphasis on the unreached peoples and the least evangelized world. John Robb has traveled extensively throughout the world--giving seminars on unreached peoples. Frank Kaleb Jansen has poured his heart into the Unreached Peoples Map, and so many others have made enormous contributions.

Jack Frizen is finishing up 28 years as the Executive Director of IFMA--an association of North American mission agencies. When he was asked to identify the most significant trend in missions during the last twenty years for the Evangelical Missions Quarterly on its twentieth anniversary, he answered, "My choice is the renewed focus on unreached people groups and penetrating the frontiers still remaining."

There has been some shift within mission agencies to allot more personnel to unreached areas, while at the same time there have been new agencies formed with a major focus on reaching the unreached.

In their longest article ever devoted to the missionary effort, with a pioneer missionary on the cover, TIME Magazine wrote, "The most important change in Protestant missionary strategy in the past ten years has been to identify and seek to contact some 16,000 tribes and social groups around the world that have been beyond the reach of the Gospel."

The Adopt-a-People Clearinghouse was established in March 1989 on the campus of William Carey International University in a gathering of leaders of 48 mission agencies who recognized the need for an independent clearinghouse that would have an exclusive focus on the unreached peoples. The Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse has continued to grow to 75 agencies today. Its commission is threefold: 1) to compile a global database of unreached peoples to track which peoples are unreached, 2) to collect and compile profiles on these peoples and 3) to act as a "marketing agent" on behalf of mission agencies for the unreached peoples.

After two years a list has been compiled of unreached peoples, clusters and ethno-linguistic blocs, as have other lists including a list of two thousand least evangelized peoples by David Barrett and Todd Johnson with Patrick Johnstone. Both Patrick Johnstone and Kaleb Jansen reckon that a high percentage of the larger blocs listed have significant church planting efforts among them. Kaleb suggests that this is as high 80%. We are beginning to have visibility within these groups of the church planting work that is being done among them.

The growth of two thirds world missions to some 50,000 cross-cultural missionaries today, with expectation of that number more than doubling by the year 2000 at the present rate of growth, is full of promise.

Agreement by many on a basic understanding of what an unreached people group is resulted from the work of a sizeable and representative group of people in 1982 who defined the concept of an unreached people group in these words, "A people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside (cross-cultural) assistance."

All kinds of partnerships, cooperative ventures and alliances are taking shape around the world. As a result of an AD 2000 meeting held in May in Riga, Latvia, at which the declaration commitment of the more than 800 Christians from 14 republics of the former USSR was to see the 138 ethno-linguistic people groups of that area reached by the year 2000. At that meeting an alliance of church planting mission agencies was formed. As of last week twenty agencies had joined, with a commitment of sending 300 long term missionaries in the next three years and supporting 500 national missionaries. A report from Wycliffe suggests that there are already believers among each of the 138 ethno-linguistic groups in the former USSR.

Major national initiatives toward the year 2000 are taking place around the world. In at least 100 countries of the world today there are spiritual initiatives of Christian leaders in those countries toward the evangelization of their countries by the year 2000 and beyond. Even in a country like Bangladesh, with its great needs, the initiative of the Garos tribe alone has resulted in a church among all of the 20 indigenous unreached tribal peoples of Bangaldesh. The Garos are today almost 100% Christian, and I will never forget their commitment at the 100 year celebration, "A church among each of the peoples of Bangaldesh by the year 2000." And they are doing it.

But for all the focus, growing conviction and momentum of the do- ability of the task, we still face enormous obstacles as we seek to complete the task by the year 2000.

III. For all peoples to be reached by the year 2000, we need to understand and face the obstacles to be overcome.

  1. A disproportionately low percentage of the personnel and financial resources of the body of Christ are being channelled for frontier missions. In fact when you get to the core of the core of those who are both spiritually and materially the poorest of the poor, you find that 2.3 Billion people in 19 countries receive only 6% of the missionary force.
    David Barrett has suggested that we give special attention to 3,030 segments. "These 3,030 segments make up one quarter of the world's population. They involve some 2,000 peoples, 1,000 urban centers and 30 countries. Less than .01% of the total mission force is working among this group. They receive about 1,000 missionaries, .1% of all Christian literature, .01% of all Christian TV, and less than .01% of every missionary dollar."
    (Why? One reason is that while we have the information and facts about these segments, we have not adequately communicated them to local churches and mission agencies.)
  2. Mission agencies and local churches are still not clear on the facts, nor the implications of those facts. In responding to the draft list of 6000 unreached peoples or adoptable peoples published by the Adopt-a-People Clearinghouse, the General Director of one of large denominationally-based mission wrote, "We are working among 25 to 40 unreached people groups around the world. I say, '25 to 40' because one never quite knows if a certain group is classified as 'unreached' or not." In my opinion this comment is more a reflection on the researchers and missiologists who have been establishing parameters than on the local church or mission agency.
  3. While some churches have responded to the challenge, many have not. David Smith, U.S. Director of Mobilization for WEC International, with its long record of missions to unreached peoples, wrote the following response to the list of 6000 unreached groups in a letter dated August 26, 1992, "We are somewhat curious. In the years we have been involved, we have communicated with every church that has shown interest. We have aggressively communicated with them. We have had five that have really adopted… I hope other missions are having more success." Since 1989 only eleven churches have adopted unreached people groups through the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse. In fact, the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse is aware of only 100 unreached peoples that have been adopted in all these years.
  4. We who are in the data collection, analysis and dissemination process have sometimes confused those we wish to mobilize by the variety of models we have proposed for understanding the state of Christianity. For example, one researcher has given technical meanings to terms such as "Christian" and "evangelized" that run counter to the intuition of most practitioners. David Hesselgrave, head of the Evangelical Mission Society, has noted that these terms are "up for grabs." As Pete Holzmann has researched this issue extensively in recent months, he notes that there appear to be two areas of misunderstanding and disagreement among various parties. He observes, "We can live with disagreement, as long as we understand each other and treat each other with the love and respect God requires of us." The two major areas of focus are: 1)What is the proper meaning of exposure to the Gospel, and how is it measured? and 2)What is the proper meaning of response to the Gospel, and how is it measured?

David Barrett has done us all a service by trying to quantify the level of exposure to the gospel that has been given to various segments of our world.

Measuring Response

What about measuring response to the gospel? This relates directly to our subject of reaching the unreached peoples. We can all think of some people groups that need no cross-cultural assistance to evangelize their own people and thus are clearly reached. We also know other people groups that just as clearly require cross-cultural assistance and thus are unreached. And we all know yet other groups for which the need for cross-cultural assistance is uncertain and thus we find them difficult to classify.

Billy Graham has stated that it takes 5% effort to win a person to Christ and 95% effort to ground that person in his faith in Christ. We need to be careful that in our zeal to get to the clearly unreached people groups we don't abort God's purposes for those groups which have a good start but still require cross-cultural assistance.

The sheer number of people that call themselves Christian in a given people group can give a clue to whether a group is reached or not, but is by no means determinative.

Dr. Paul Kauffman is an early Pentecostal missionary and the originator of the very fine periodical Asian Outreach. He has developed one of the best and most succinct answers to the question of "When is a people group reached?"

It is reached when the believers in that group have been sufficiently grounded in the Word of God that they can be identified as disciples of Jesus Christ, who will then begin to multiply themselves in their own people group and then into other groups--in obedience to Christ's commands.

Friends of the International Society for Frontier Missiology, here are some suggestions:

  1. We must repent from all that has hindered the advance of the gospel to the unreached.
  2. We must state clearly the definitions we are using to have a standard of accountabiltiy.
  3. We must communicate with clarity in a user- friendly way to bring the light of understanding to the unfinished task.
  4. We must understand the differences between our own theological and statistical bases in order to understand where it is that we can work in unity and where we work on separate paths.
  5. We must all give a clarion call. It would be sad to be left out of the greatest harvest of all time, of the reaching of the unreached peoples, of penetrating the last vestiges of enemy stronghold on peoples, as the kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdoms of our God and His Christ.

IV. For all peoples to be reached by the year 2000 we must take the steps necessary for the goal to be reached.
Ed Dayton, who worked with David Frazer, wrote an outstanding book, Planning Strategies for World Evangelization, which focused primarily on the task of reaching all peoples, recorded from an '82 meeting a seven step or stage process to accomplish this goal for any one unreached people group. For all the unreached people groups to be reached, these steps need to be taken and applied to all the unreached people groups. In discussion with Kaleb Jansen, Director of Adopt-a-People Clearinghouse, we have made some slight modifications to the phases.

Stage 1 -- "Reported" A people group needs to be reported as unreached.

Some mission agency or person needs to report that a specific group needs cross-sultural assistance. Minimally this includes a description of the locations where this group can be found, the names it is known by, the sizes reported for it and the languages in which the people communicate with one another and the outside world, including, for example, the trade language, the native language and the school language.

Currently there are several lists circulating on the unreached. We need a target list for AD 2000 purposes to enlist prayer, to promote deployment of missionaries and the channeling of other resources, and to monitor progress toward the goal.

"Why do people want a list of peoples?" you might ask. "God already has a register of the peoples (Psalm 87:6), but we don't know where the group boundaries really are until we run into them, and we won't know exactly how many boundaries there are until we have crossed all of them." This may be true, but we need to start somewhere. Certainly, any list will be dynamic and changing as new groups are discovered and other groups are recognized to be extinct or reached. A single penetration will not necessarily be adequate to reach all the individuals within most of the megapeoples for which we have names. Yet certainly all the people groups within a megapeople will be brought closer by the penetration of one of the groups among them.

Mexico Case Study

Ron Rowland of Wycliffe has reviewed the response from the field in Mexico. Of the 270 people groups listed in Mexico, Ron offered the following encouraging comments after response from the field in Mexico and some Ethnologue checking: There may be up to five possibly unreached peoples which were not included in the list and which will require further checking. However very few of those which were listed come under the category of "unreached." Nine of these are non- indigenous groups that will require special strategies such as the Afro-Seminole Creoles, the Chinese, German Jews, Japanese, etc. Ten of the indigenous language groups are "unreached," and one unidentified; all are under 8000 in number. In addition Ron notes that all are in a language family where there are Christians in related languages who could evangelize them.

The list of unreached peoples for Mexico, on the basis of the work done by Wycliffe, could be reduced from the 270 currently listed to just 18 or 19, with the others listed in another category.

Ron Rowland discovered in his review of the list sent out by the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse of 6000 macropeoples, megapeoples and people groups, that all the groups still considered unreached in Mexico are in language families accessible to Christians currently speaking some related language.

Following, its development in 1989 from a broad-based coalition of mission agencies the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse began the work of compiling a global data base of the unreached. For the first step on reporting, there were two parameters that were sought, name and location. These were inputted into the computer one by one by one. Mission agencies participated and sent in the names of the unreached peoples they were working among or had identified on the field. Twenty-three hundred of the 6000 names of peoples currently on the list were gathered this way. The remaining 3700 came from research done by individuals primarily from the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse.

Stage 2 -- "Evaluated" The reported group needs to be verified by a reliable source.

Several important items should be assessed at this time: 1) The existence of the group 2) the classification of the group as a macropeople, megapeople or people group 3) four key elements reported: primary or representative locations, common names, varying estimates of size and the languages they are known to use 4) the religion and/or belief system 5) is there a multiplication of churches? 6) is there an indigenous trained leadership capable of leading the group? 7) are there adequate resources to reach their own group such as the Word of God in their language and available, etc.? 8) Do they have a missionary movement reaching out from their midst?

On June 8 a preliminary list of 6000 names of macropeoples, megapeoples and people groups was published by Adopt-a-People.

Stage 3 -- "Preparation for Adoption" Adequate research must be completed to permit interested Christians outside this group to make a decision to reach it.

The listing of 6000 published by the Adopt-A- People Clearinghouse was sent out in conjunction with the the Unreached People Resource Track of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement and MARC Publications. It was sent to the 75 participating mission agencies of the Clearinghouse. It was also sent to national research centers, committees and researchers in various countries around the world. A total of more than 200 packages were sent out around the world.

The response to the list was interesting. Sometimes it created confusion. For instance, one General Director wrote back, "I am still trying to figure out what it is you want me to do with the extensive material you sent on June 8 with a follow-up letter on August 19."

To others it created frustration, "We did try, but got totally frustrated in the process when we read the section on 'Reasons to Adopt.'" It also produced gratitude, "A hearty word of thanks... to produce this composite list of unreached peoples. We are fully committed to work together with you on this. It's badly needed." Others have put in significant energy and personnel into the review and validation process, such as Wycliffe Bible Translators. Wycliffe sent out the listing of people groups to each of the fields by country and have received responses from twelve countries so far, including Mexico, Peru, and Nigeria. National researchers and research teams offered their input. In fact, the Church Growth Research Center in Madras, India went through each of the columns for each of the 1765 people groups on the list of 34 pages, thus partially validating the list. Others were also prompted into action.

India Case Study

Bob Waymire, of Light International, is one researcher who was prompted into action by the distribution of the list. His review of the India portion of the list builds on a 10 year history of working with a variety of organizations in India--including the India Missions Association--towards establishing effective information gathering, managing, and application techniques and structures.

India is probably the most diverse country in the world when it comes to peoples and people groups. The difficulty in describing this broad mosaic is compounded by the caste system, the large number of languages and dialects, the tribes, and the varieties and strains of religions. India hosts almost one-quarter of the all of the 6000 unreached peoples listed by the Clearinghouse. Bob writes, "Over the past decade considerable effort has been expended in determination to effectively describe and status the people groups in support of evangelism and church-planting. Good progress is being made, and a methodical state-by-state survey is in progress coordinated by the National Socio-Cultural Survey Committee functioning under the auspices of the India Missions Association (IMA)."

As a result of the work on verification and validation of the list in India, the review by Wycliffe, and the work by Light International, three status reports concerning India have been assembled:

  1. A status report primarily on the ethno-linguistic blocs (approximately 365 entries). This contains up-to-date status reports on various aspects of the progress of the Gospel, including the number of Christians in each group. Missing is any definitive data on the number of churches/congregations.
  2. A case-study/status report on the state of Bihar which includes the latest data from the "harvest field/harvest force" survey just released. This identifies Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Muslim Groups, and Backward Castes. (Surveys are also near completion in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states.)
  3. Basic people group status by state (approximately 1735 entries). The status applies to groups less than 2% Christian, and depicts status in 12 categories (reported, verified, heard, responded, translation, etc.). There is a group listing for each state with status provided by state.

Although there are many duplications in group names, the status from state-to-state varies greatly. In most cases there are language variations by state also.

It should be noted that much of the data are estimates accumulated from a wide variety of sources. Very little of the 1991 Census data is available about religions by state.

An AD 2000 target list is expected to be available by December 31, 1992.

Stage 4 -- "Adopted" The people group needs to be adopted. The Adopt- A-People Clearinghouse is planning an adoption process by assigning people groups to churches by zip code around the U.S.

The U.S. is no longer alone in desiring to adopt and reach the unreached peoples. In Latin America, COMIBAM is sponsoring a meeting next month (Oct. 92) to consider national and continental strategies for the adoption of unreached peoples and to equip key Latin American researchers to coordinate the establishment of "permanent national research functions" in every country in Latin America.

Costa Rica has taken major steps toward becoming a full partner in reaching the unreached peoples. They went through a process of determining that 50 people groups was their "fair share" as the church in Costa Rica, based on a proportionate approach to the number of evangelicals in the continent of Latin American and the number of unreached peoples in the world.

The Latin American Federation of Evangelical Missions, FEDEMEC, representing over 30 denominations and Christian organizations, started in 1986 with a goal of establishing a church planting movement of disciples of Jesus Christ in at least 50 unreached people groups by sending 500 church planting missionaries by the year 2000. In February they reported that adoptions were already up to 100. A series of meetings with denominational leaders, involving prayer and research, has taken them through a pre-adoption process. At this point the pre-adopted peoples were presented to the national assemblies of the different denominations who assessed and approved adoptions which then took place at a subsequent national level meeting. They are engaged in exploratory trips, local church missions mobilization, missions training, and I fully expect that, at the current pace, they will meet their goals.

Africa is seeking to send out 10,000 cross-cultural missionaries by the year 2000. There is a heavy burden among Africans for the people groups of North Africa.

Prayer Increasing

One of the most hopeful elements in the adoption process is the growing burden among God's people. Intercessory prayer by the local church for the unreached peoples at this stage will release enormous spiritual power and raise up workers for the harvest field.

A significant global initiative, with enormous implications for reaching the unreached peoples by the year 2000, is a month of concerted prayer and fasting for mission outreach into the 10/40 window scheduled for next October (1993). Research indicates that more than 80% of the population of unreached people groups live within the 10/40 window. This is apparent whether you consider the 170 megapeoples listed by David Barrett and Todd Johnson, or the list of 72 peoples on the Unreached People Map published by Frank Kaleb Jansen.

Over 10,000 African ministers are committed to enlisting the participation of 5 million Africans who will participate in this initiative of prayer and fasting, concluding with major prayer rallys at stadiums throughout Africa on the last Saturday of the month. Over 60,000 are scheduled for a simultaneous prayer rally in Osaka, Japan and will be praying "through the window." Simple training materials are being prepared, along with a 31-day prayer guide for the month of October, 1993. These transferable materials will be funnelled through an estimated 150 prayer networks, denominations and parachurch ministries.

Dick Eastman is the chairman of this initiative, called Praying Through the Window. He explains that "Every Home for Christ already has contacted our 70 global offices, encouraging their involvement in helping alert EHC's estimated 250,000 global prayer partners. Jane Hansen, president of Women's Aglow International and vice-chairperson of Praying Through the Window, said, "I am so excited to see the almost 500,000 women identified with Women's Aglow International in 2,500 chapters across 105 nations become involved with this bold campaign to focus prayer on the 10/40 Window."

In Nicaragua, the President of the Alliance of Churches has expressed a commitment to mobilize 2000 churches in Nicaragua for this event. This month, in one of the largest churches in Mexico, an initial seminar is being held to prepare over 1,000 participants for participation in this October 1993 effort.

This focus on the spiritually neediest part of the world will lead to prayer for the whole area and adoption of specific countries. The Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse will be providing unreached people materials to those praying for the whole 10/40 window and then in greater detail for those praying for the unreached peoples within each country.

Stage 5 -- "Church Planting" Initial field work needs to begin with the intent of establishing an evangelizing culturally indigenous church. The question is whether there is anyone there working with church planting as the primary goal?

Stage 6 -- "Exposure" We need to make the claims of Christ widely known among the target people group to the extent that we can be sure that the gospel has been adequately presented (50% of the people are being exposed).

Here are some factors to consider in determining the extent to which a group has been "exposed":

  • radio broadcasts
  • the Jesus film
  • Christian literature distribution
  • surveys to determine the extent of knowledge and understanding of the Christian message

It is also essential to determine the extent to which the Word of God has been translated and the extent to which it is available to the individuals within the people group.

Stage 7 -- "Church Planting Movement" This is the recognizable indicator that a group may no longer need cross-cultural assistance, and may be reached.

  1. Is there an evangelizing church? The group needs to have an indigenous community of believers with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize the remainder of the group with little or no outside (cross-cultural) assistance.
  2. Is there an adequate core of effectively trained church leadership? Without this, the movement cannot last.

Stage 8 -- "Cross-Cultural Mission Movement" To return to Kauffman's grand summary, this is the true indicator that a group is really no longer unreached.

Let us close by reviewing the steps for reaching the unreached:

  1. Reported, with identification its primary locations, names, sizes and languages.
  2. Evaluated for existence, classification, reported information, primary religions, existence of a multiplying church, indigenous trained leadership, existence and availability of the Word of God, and an indigenous missionary movement.
  3. Preparation for adoption through completion of a profile detailing the cultural and traveling distance to the closest church and the existence of churches and mission agencies targeting this group.
  4. Adopted by churches or mission agencies for focused prayer, information gathering and financial investment.
  5. Church Planting has been initiated as the primary goal of some outreach to them.
  6. Exposure of at least 50% of the population to the gospel through radio broadcasts, the Jesus film and the distribution of Christian literature. Credible surveys must be taken to verify the extent of understanding of the Christian message. In addition, the Word of God must be translated and available.
  7. A Church planting movement must be growing among the group, with competent indigenous leadership.
  8. A Cross-Cultural Mission Effort must be reaching out from within the group.


Thomas Wang, founder of the AD2000 Movement, has said, "Sometimes when I close my eyes, it is as if I hear a bell ringing in heaven, and God says, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, time is up! You have been procrastinating long enough. It is time to finish the job.'"

For all peoples to be reached by the year 2000 the biblical priority needs to be affirmed among mission agencies and local churches around the world.

We must make this our top priority.

We must realize that this is what God is waiting for.

We must make ourselves fully available to Christ for His purpose.

And we must be careful not be be sidetracked, but keep in view God's deepest passion: Reaching the Unreached!


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