By Mark Ellis –
In the quest to fulfill the command of Jesus to make disciples of all nations, the remaining known unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPGs) were adopted for gospel engagement in the next two years.
The commitments to reach the 343 remaining groups were made at this year’s Finishing the Task conference in early December, organized by The Issachar Initiative.
A UUPG is a group of people without a single known worker doing evangelism and church planting in their people groups. “In many cases UUPGs don’t have a single believer and have never had an opportunity to hear about Christ’s love and forgiveness,” according to Dusty Hoffman with CRU.
Pastor Rick Warren exhorted more than 600 missionaries, strategists, and pastors attending the conference toward action. “It’s time for the Church to stop debating the Bible and start doing it,” he declared.
In response, the final commitments made by attendees exceeded the goals of organizers. “In all, 603 unique people group adoptions were indicated. Many UUPGs were adopted twice, three times and even four times, increasing the likelihood of the people group receiving a team of missionaries soon, or even multiple teams of missionaries,” Hoffman noted.
There were many moments of Spirit-filled unity among the 280 different organizations that attended FTT. One 30-something missionary from East Asia came to the microphone and said “I’m only one man. I don’t lead hardly anyone compared to most in the room. But I would like to adopt all the remaining people groups in my country if you will help me.”
Four mission agencies responded to the young man’s faith and will be partnering with him to ensure that every group in that country is reached.
“Perhaps it was the increased focus on prayer and repentance that led to this unity,” Hoffman observed. “ Within two hours of the event kicking off attendees spent an entire session praying through the Lord’s prayer together.”
At one point in the conference attendees removed their shoes and walked on a gigantic map of the world to pray over each nation. “In some instances, pools of tears were seen on the map as God led people to cry out for those who’ve never heard of Jesus in their land,” Hoffman said.
The next steps will be to recruit, train and send nearby workers into these 343 people groups.
“The commitments of these first missionaries will begin the process of making disciples in those people groups, thus hastening the day when the Apostle John’s vision of “a great number of people” “from every nation, tribe, people and language of the earth” “standing before the throne” of God is finally realized.”
It may be noted that various mission organizations define unreached groups differently. Some experts that study world missions will contend there are still thousands of unreached and under-engaged groups. “The results at FTT are indeed a milestone to celebrate, but there is a massive amount of work still remaining to finish the task,” one observer concluded.