To understand who the unreached peoples are, we must first see the world and the nations through a “people lens.” The world is people—distinct peoples bound together by ties of language, culture, ethnicity, religion, shared history and other aspects of identity. (Political nationality is only one layer of identity).
Unreached people groups are those groups whose populations (which can range from hundreds to millions) contain only a very small percentage of people who follow Christ (2% or less). Typically, this small percentage is not sufficient to build and sustain a movement to Christ internally. Those who are part of an unreached people group have little to no opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel—one that is culturally intelligible to them. In this case, the gospel must be presented and lived out by people from outside their people group.
The majority of the remaining unreached and unengaged people groups live in a section of the world often called the “10/40 Window.” This rectangular section of the globe is located between 10 and 40 degrees North of the equator and roughly encompasses North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Called by some “the hardest, darkest places” of the world, the 10/40 Window is home to:
· 82% of the poorest of the world's poor
· 84% of those with lowest quality of living
· The main centers of Islam, Buddhism, & Hinduism
· The least resource investment by global followers of Jesus
· The least sharing of the Gospel message
Some unreached peoples are also unengaged—meaning there are no known believers even trying to reach them. Unless a group of believers chooses to engage them, they may never have an opportunity to hear the Good News. Identifying—much less crossing—cultural and spiritual barriers to find redemptive bridges is an extraordinary challenge and one of the main reasons that over 7,000 people groups remain unreached—and many of these unengaged.
Jesus commanded his followers to “disciple all
nations." A closer look at the word “nations” reveals that He was not
referring to political countries like Russia or England but the people groups
within them. The Greek word is ethne
from which we derive English terms like “ethnicity” and “ethnic group.” Jesus
has commanded us to disciple all the ethne
in the world. This is His heart—and he
has entrusted it to us, his body. This extraordinary challenge awaits us—the 7,000
remaining unreached people groups of the world. We can take hope that even
while He has commanded us to go, He also promises that he will be with us every
step of the way, to the end of this age.