Who Are The Unreached Of The World?
As followers of Christ, we have been given the commission to make Him known to every tribe, tongue, and people of the world. We have been beckoned into a relationship with Him and then told to freely give that which we have received. The Lord yearns to be known by those whom He has created, and He has asked us who do know to take on the yearning to make Him known as our own.
To do this, we must understand something that is challenging for the western culture to comprehend: there are people in the world, there are whole groups of people, who have never heard about God and the message of Christ.
In the American church, we know that there are people who do not believe. But, it is so much more challenging to recognize that there are people who do not believe because they nor anybody around them has ever heard one thing about the True God.
It is crucial that we who are reached come to understand that we must learn which nations and people groups have not come into contact with the heart of the Lord revealed in Christ and our role in changing that reality.
What Makes A People Group?
To understand more about unreached people groups, we must first know what a people group is. A widely accepted definition of people groups would include the defining characteristics as follows:
There are an estimated 6,500 spoken languages in the world today. Because of the vast amount of dialects, language is an immense barrier between different people groups.
There are certain aspects of people groups that form their cultural identity. These can be customs, social institutions, economic structures, religious beliefs, and other commonalities that bind certain groups of people together.
3. Geographic location
Geography plays a significant role in the making of people groups. Based on their location, people are bound together and separated from others in different locations. Geography also dictates much about a people group’s economy, traditions, and language.
Religion is a significant divider between people groups. In many cultures, people are united and divided by religious beliefs and affiliations.
Ethnic affiliation creates groups of people who share common beliefs, languages, cultures, and so on. The ethnicity of a people group distinguishes them from others around them that do not share those commonalities.
6. Socio-economic status
The social and economic standing of people creates distinctions between people groups. The socioeconomic status of a person determines their position in society.
Unreached and Least Reached People Groups
As we come to an understanding of what it means for a people group to be unreached or least-reached, we see that they face two realities:
- Unreached people do not know the truths of the Gospel, who Jesus is, and what He has done for the salvation of the world.
Those who are considered unreached do not know the name of Jesus or the truths of the Gospel. They have not been reached by that which brings salvation.
- Unreached people do not have the presence of the church or believers around them.
The unreached do not have access to or contact with other followers of Christ. These unreached people do not have a church around them that can make known the truths of the Bible and Christ to them.
Based on these two criteria, we can define unreached people groups as those who have no community of native believers around them, as well as no means for establishing a church or discipleship. The least-reached people groups may have a small number of native Christians but still, have little to no means for establishing thriving churches and discipleship programs.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He commanded that disciples be made in every ethnic group. This reveals God’s desire to be known by every tribe, every people group, and every person within every nation.
According to the Joshua Project, there is an estimate of 16,531 people groups in the world today, and out of those groups, approximately 6,701 are unreached by the Gospel. This means that about 42% have minuscule to no access to the message of salvation and life. These statistics are a staggering picture of how desperately the world needs to be reached by the truths of God’s heart for them to know Him through the message of Jesus.
Why Is It Important To Know About The Unreached?
As believers, especially in the Western world, it is not easy to comprehend the gravity of unreached people groups. We have access to Scripture, the Gospel, and a church community. Yet, for so many around the world, this is not the reality. To be unreached is to lack the access we so readily have, which is to lack the hope of salvation we have been given by hearing, knowing, and having faith in the Gospel.
We need to understand the reality of unreached people groups as something that we cannot ignore. If trusting in the finished work of Christ is our only means for eternal life, and we know that people have not yet heard, we should allow our hearts to be impacted in ways that require a response.
In God’s great love, He wills that His name is made known to all people, that all people may have the chance to come into a relationship with Him. We know that His plan will be accomplished, and we know that He has beckoned us into partnering with Him in His mission.
As we who have been transformed by the Gospel of salvation ask ourselves: “why should we care about the unreached?”, we must look to the ways Scripture reveals God’s deep care for the unreached.
In speaking on the life of Christ, John Piper says, “Jesus’ primary concern—the very first petition of the prayer he teaches—is that more and more people, and more and more peoples, come to hallow God’s name. This is the reason the universe exists. Missions exist because this hallowing does not.”
Let us ask ourselves what Paul did when reminding believers of their obligation to make the Gospel known where it is not: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14). Then, let us pray for hearts aligned with our Savior’s to be those who make it their aim to partake in reaching the unreached.
At Ethnos360 Bible Institute, we equip believers with a knowledge of Scripture so that they may share it with those who have never heard the Gospel message. Find out more about our program and how we aim to take part in reaching the unreached.