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What Are Unreached People Groups (UPGs)?
What is a people group? A group where the various members share a common culture, language, and self-identity. For our purposes, it is the largest group within which the gospel can spread without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.
Why are they unreached? A people group is considered unreached when there is no indigenous community of Jesus’ followers able to engage this people group with church-planting. Technically speaking, less than 2 percent of the population actively follows Jesus.
Nearly one billion people have little-to-no access to the gospel or any missionary presence. Sometimes, they are referred to as “least-reached,” “unengaged, unreached people groups,” and “last frontier people groups.” While there are various terms and sub-categories, the vision is to see every people group reached with an active indigenous church spreading the gospel.
Unreached vs. Unengaged
If all people groups in the world had an equal distribution of evangelical churches, there would be nearly a thousand churches for each people group. Yet a quarter of the people groups in the world have no church or active missionary presence. These people are Unengaged, Unreached People Groups (UUPG). Though much progress has been made in planting evangelical churches among the unreached, there is still a need to focus on people groups without any access to the gospel.
The term UUPG indicates an ethnic group with no viable, reproducing, evangelical Christian church-planting strategy. According to www.peoplegroups.org, “Gathering believers and planting churches are the keys to establishing an effective and multiplying presence among these people groups.”
Why Unreached People Groups?
From Genesis to Revelation, God pursues all ethnic people groups to bring them before His throne.
By taking a closer look at the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus commands us, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” He was not referring to modern political nations; the translation of the Greek used in that passage indicates “ethnic group.” He uses the same language in Matthew 24:14.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Jesus’ desire is for every people group to join the Kingdom of God. Christ commissions us as His ambassadors to go into the whole world to proclaim the good news.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” – Revelation 7:9
Where Are Unreached People Groups?
Christian missionaries coined the term “10/40 Window” to signify a geographical region between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude. This region – covering North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia – is considered the last frontier for world missions and home to a majority of unreached people groups. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population live in the 10/40 window, and approximately 90-95% of these people are considered unreached. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Non-Religious groups make up the four dominant religions in this area. Interestingly, this region is also where 85% of the world’s poorest live.
The Role Of The Church – What You Can Do?
At International Project, our goal is to see churches planted in the 10/40 window by focusing our training, discipleship, and church-planting efforts on immigrants and internationals from within this region. New York City is now considered the most diverse city in the world, with over 50 unreached people groups. We hope to see a church-planting movement spread from NYC back to the 10/40 window through internationals and diaspora groups.
All Are Called To Be Global Christians (Mt 28:18-20)
We can all play our role in engaging unreached people by praying, sending, mobilizing, welcoming, and going.
Our 10-month Equip Missionary Training is designed to get your feet on the mission field and provide hands-on training to reach the unengaged, unreached people groups in your own communities. Whether you take this training back to your hometown or continue mission work overseas, our coaches and mentors will train you to make disciples who in turn take part in the Great Commission.