The 137 million Shaikh in Bangladesh, 19 million Zhuang in China, two million Afar in Ethiopia, and 12,000 Kogi in Colombia are among 4,000+ ethno-linguistic-cultural populations that comprise the Unreached People Groups (UPG’s) of the world today. Some can be found within one country, others are scattered in communities that cross the borders of nation-states, and some are spread around the globe.
Since the Tower of Babel, people groups have come and gone: some were wiped out by conquerors or disease; others were absorbed by another group. Some have maintained their culture for centuries with little or no change; others have adapted, mixed and hybridized their ways while continuing to see themselves as a cohesive group in the midst of other cultures and peoples. Although some hold that our global economy and communication cause widespread assimilation of cultures, historically most people groups – like flowing water – conform to change as best suits them while maintaining aspects of their own uniqueness.
Over 4,000 groups are yet to be reached – with no indigenous witnessing church movement among them. Pray on behalf of these groups, for the reception of the gospel, and pray for those in authority over them to permit the peaceful spread of the Good News. Pray, recalling Paul’s words: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
Pray for more workers. Only 8% of all cross-cultural Christian laborers serve among peoples where the church has yet to be established! Author Dick Eastman observes, “Of all Christ taught in the Gospels, only once do we find Him sharing the Ultimate solution to all problems of world evangelism. Having painted the picture of a vast harvest, Jesus shares His only plan for reaping the harvest: ‘Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest’ (Mt. 9:38).” 1
Pray, knowing God’s plan will be fulfilled. We celebrate the first Advent – the coming of Jesus, the incarnate Lord of all nations. Jesus himself promises that when all people groups hear the Good News, his second Advent will follow: “…this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come” (Mt. 24:14).
Our Handbook prioritizes such praying: “We will apply our prayers and resources, in particular, along the frontiers of the unreached – those peoples among whom an indigenous, missionizing, church-planting movement has yet to be established” (¶21a).
Will you join with God in his passion for these thousands of nations yet to be blessed with the presence of a living, witnessing community of Jesus followers?
Pray with us!
- Dick Eastman, “The Hour That Changes the World,” in Dick Eastman on Prayer: Three Unabridged Books in One Volume (Grand Rapids: Global Christian Publishers, 1999), pp.153,154.