Hopes and Challenges for Reaching the Unreached Peoples by the Year 2000

The "10/40 Window" is an area that roughly spans from 10 to 40 north of the equator and is home to nearly half the earth's population, 95 percent of the world's unevangelized people and 84 percent of its poor. Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism each have their spiritual headquarters here. For the more than one billion Muslims, more then 700 million Hindus and nearly 600 million Buddhists who live here, the great majority have never had any exposure to the love and truth of Jesus Christ.

We can rejoice that about 10,000 of the world's 12,000 ethnolinguistic peoples now have viable congregations of evangelical believers. There has been remarkable progress since William Carey left for India 200 years ago!

In one form or another the gospel has been preached in every country of the world. But this does not mean the world has been evangelized. Jesus command to "make disciples of all nations" does not simply refer to political countries, but rather to the ethnic people groups within them. Gospel hasn't yet effectively penetrated the cultures of about 2,000 peoples. These are the least reached peoples of the world. Approximately 1,000 of these peoples have virtually no Christian witness.

The world's remaining unreached peoples can be grouped into 12 affinity blocs through links of culture, religion, geography, and politics. Eleven of these affinity blocs are located in the "10/40 Window": Arabs, Sahalian Africans, Cushitic peoples of East Africa, Iranians, Turkics, Tibeto-Burmese, Indians, Malays, East Asians, Southeast Asians. The 12th bloc is that of the globally dispersed Jews.

Most of the least reached peoples in other parts of the world are migrant communities such as South Asians in Europe and East Africa or Malians in France that originate from the "10/40 Window" countries.

Within these affinity blocs are 130 "gateway peoples," peoples so strategic that a spiritual breakthrough among them could rapidly impact other related peoples.

Seeing the unreached peoples as part of affinity blocs and focusing first on the "gateway peoples" enables more effective networking and cooperation and a formation of "strategic partnerships" comprised of international mission agencies and national church initiatives to better coordinate and maximize the contributions which each part of the Body of Christ is prepared to make so that no people group is neglected. Only through a united effort can we see all peoples discipled in our generation.

These partnerships will ensure that every possible ministry and agency make a coordinated contribution and that every related smaller people is adequately covered with ministry.

Our greatest problem in the achievement of the AD 2000 goal is not such finding totally unreached peoples that need to be targeted nor even satanic or social barriers that prevent the entrance of the gospel, but rather how we can work together in the power of Holy Spirit to achieve this.

The greatest requirement for effectively reaching unreached peoples is prayer. Jesus said, "pray the Lord of the Harvest and He will send forth the 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 an informed, ongoing manner. "Ask of me and I will make the peoples your inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth your possession" (Ps. 2:8).

Questions for Reflection and Action

John Robb, U.S.A.
Coordinator, AD 2000 Unreached Peoples Network
Program Director, World Vision International