In 1974, Ralph Winter presented an idea that deeply impacted the missions community. He insisted that instead of focusing on the political boundaries of nations as our mission fields, we should focus on evangelism to distinct people groups. When missionaries talk about people groups, they’re talking about a specific people with a shared ethnicity and language. This has been helpful for mission strategies because many people groups exist across multiple national boundaries and often there is more than one cultural group within the borders of a single nation. By focusing on people groups — rather than geopolitical boundaries — we can focus on communicating the gospel in a specific cultural context.
When missionaries talk about “unreached” people groups, they are talking about those specific populations that remain among the least reached by the gospel. This typically means that there are too few Christians to reasonably assume a sufficient ability for evangelism within the culture of that people. One of the arms of our strategy in global cities is to reach out to unreached people groups that have migrated to the city. Often this is the slowest aspect of our work. They have remained unreached despite moving to a city that offers geographic proximity to a church because real cultural distance is still a factor. In addition, there have often been historical events or circumstances that have created an initial resistance to Christian witness as well.
As unreached people groups immigrate to global cities in North America and around the world, cities have become more important than ever for reaching the least reached. We are mobilizing Mission Catalysts who will intentionally initiate culturally sensitive evangelism efforts among people groups in our cities. These are strategic opportunities where God has brought the ‘nations’ to us. Evangelism and church planting specially among unreached peoples is a slower and more intentional process than most American Christians are comfortable with, but it is essential that we participate in God’s heart for all peoples to know Him.
Pray for our Mission Catalysts who are encountering Muslims, Atheists, Hindus, and others from around the world in our cities. Pray for courage, for wisdom, and for endurance as Mission Catalysts engage unreached people groups. Pray that God will lead us to receptive people who may become Christian leaders and evangelists among their people. Pray for open doors for the gospel to leap from the city to their homelands. Pray for God to cultivate good soil among the unreached people groups arriving in our cities.
J.L. in NYC
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