By Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis
Today, there are 1,600 unreached ethnic groups, the U.S. Center for World Mission estimates. About 300 new people groups are being engaged by missionary workers each year for the first time, according to David Taylor, a leader at the U.S. Center.
This means that by the year 2020 all remaining unreached groups will receive an introduction to the gospel, according to their projections.
Such a dramatic fulfillment of Bible prophecy (that the gospel will be preached to all peoples before the end will come, given in Matt.24 & 28) has been the quest of evangelicalism.
Undertaking the daunting task of reaching 3,000 unreached groups, a task force at the U.S. Center eight years ago began coordinating conferences, efforts and prayers to launch missionaries into the remaining unreached parts of the world.
“Within our lifetimes, we are going to be able to say that for the first time since Jesus gave the Great Commission, we have finished the task of ‘beginning’ – getting missionaries to every nation, tribe, people and language,” Taylor says.
“I can’t help but think, it is our generation that will witness the 2,000-year anniversary of the Great Commission given by our Lord Jesus,’” he says.
“Wouldn’t it be an amazing Christmas gift if by that time we will be able to say, ‘Here are the rewards of your suffering, people from every nation, tribe, people and language, worshipping and representing your name form Jerusalem to the ends of the earth,’” Taylor says. “We are closer than ever to that reality coming to pass.”
Founded in 1976, the U.S. Center for World Mission conducts research, innovates solutions to overcome barriers, and utilizes media to promote preaching of the gospel worldwide.
As part of the overall effort, the Presbyterian Church in Mexico, representing 5,000 churches with a total of 2 million members, launched a “sending program” and began to devise a manual for church planting, Taylor noted.
“There are literally thousands of denominations with millions of members in the non-Western world which do not have mission sending programs,” Taylor notes. “This was one of the major oversights of the mission work of the last century.”
The Mexican Presbyterian Church will host a missionary conference next year with 1,200 participants, Taylor says.
In December, the U.S. Center for World Mission is praying for the Middle East, with an initiative dubbed “Light the Window.” Plays are underway to form an association for indigenous mission organizations in the 10-40 window, a latitudinal swath of the earth through Northern Africa, the Middle East and China that represents the area of the globe least-reached by the gospel.
More than 70% of missionaries today are from non-Western world, Taylor notes.
“Let’s double-up our efforts and give it our all in this final sprint to the end!”