Imagine that you are managing a company aiming to reach the whole world. The red dots represent places where you have yet failed to get to - even if you have had more than enough time to build your presence. Now you are up for a meeting with the CEO. You know that he loves you, but that he is not happy with the situation. You also know that there is nothing you can say to your defence.
The map has nothing to do with Coke or other consumer products. It is made by Joshua project. Each red dot represents one unreached people group – groups of families, youngsters, elderly people, women and men who are born, live and die without having any real chance to get to know about Jesus Christ.
Like in the eastern part of Mali in Africa: The bus is overcrowded as it takes off from the regional capital city of Kayes not far from the Senegalese border. Heavy rain showers reside in the hillsides threatening to attack the bus as it drives fast on the EU financed road that leads towards the capital Bamako. Villages and towns pass the windows quickly as the bus finds its way through the green coloured landscape. Two hours into the journey one of the church leaders in Mali leans towards his travel companion.
Unreached and unengaged
- All the places we have passed until now have two things in common, he says. One is that we don´t know of any Christians in any of these towns or villages. We also do not know of any church or agency that work to reach these people with the Gospel.
Such people groups are what the association «Finishing the task» would call «unengaged» and «unreached».
– There are 3,216 people groups who are not only unreached, but no one is even trying to reach them. Mission strategists call them “unengaged.” After 2,000 years, it should be unthinkable to us as the church of Jesus Christ that there would be any unengaged people groups left in the world, states the association on its website.
Many people groups are engaged, but are still to be regarded as unreached. Thus the total number of unreached people groups are close to 7,000 according to Joshua Project, the world leader on monitoring how far the Gospel has reached.
Persecution and professionals
Many of these people groups live in nations where mission is prohibited. Tent International has however experienced that the same nations desire to recruit Christian professionals.
– One of the most challenging parts of my job is that I cannot find people to send to so many of the available, well-paid jobs we get information about. Several of these jobs are in nations and regions where there are few or no Christians, says Steinar Opheim, the co-founder and managing director of Tent International.
– I wish more people would be willing to use their skills and professions internationally to serve the nations and God´s kingdom at the same time. Compared to Coca-Cola the church had a 1900 years’ head start in establishing its presence among all people groups. Today I believe more people have access to a Coke than the Gospel. This should challenge us. We know that people are in greater need of living water than of sparkling soft drinks, says Opheim.