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What are unreached people groups?

Over the years, I have had the extreme privilege to travel to many regions of the world. I want to share an event that happened on my first trip to the middle east, where the population is made up of unreached people. When I traveled, the country had about 80 million people. The city I traveled to had a population of about 15 million.

One morning, I could not find a sugar substitute anywhere in the hotel where I was staying. I know most people would just drink it with regular sugar, black, or not at all. But, being in a large city and knowing there were stores around the hotel, I set out on a quest to find a sugar substitute for my coffee. In previous travels, I had done this successfully. You may not have had the opportunity to travel to the middle east. In that case, it is helpful to know that there are very similar stores near each other. So within a three or four-block radius, there were several stores with the potential of helping me meet my objective. I ducked into one "grocery" store after another as I walked up the well-worn sidewalk. After several blocks, I crossed the street and continued my quest for a sugar substitute on the other side of the road. Working my way back towards the hotel. Again, ducking into store after store, looking in all the logical places, I found nothing. After exhausting all stores within walking distance from the hotel, I decided to head back and drink my coffee without sweetener.

As I crossed the street, reality struck and struck hard! The reality was, of all the people I passed on the street or attempted to communicate with, most likely, none of them were Jesus followers. Even more impactful, these same folks had no access to the Gospel or had never heard the truth about our wonderful Savior. My heart twisted in my chest and actually felt as if it had moved into my throat. The reality that in the entire country of 80 million people, there were only about 5,000 known followers of Christ became shockingly real to me.

Getting back to the question the title of this blog asks, what are unreached people groups? Often, people, especially in the United States, can't get past the words "unreached people." So many of us have friends, family members, and neighbors who have never accepted the free gift of Christ's forgiveness. They understandably focus their attention on those close to them and equate them with unreached. Friends, family, and neighbors definitely need Christ! However, these folks are not unreached. They have you and me and numerous churches where they can hear the Gospel. I recently googled the word Bible on Walmart's website and received "1000+" results! In the United States, we are classified as "Reached" with the Gospel of Christ.

So, what does it mean to be an unreached people group? According to, "An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance."

Of the world's total population of 7.9 billion people, about 42% are considered unreached peoples, according to Joshua Project! In the 21 century, when you can get on a jet in the United States today and be halfway around the world tomorrow, this is a very sobering reality. The Gospel Coalition has stated the urgent need for us to re-prioritize the use of our resources. Here is a quote from their website, "for every $100,000 Christians make, they spend just $1 on reaching people who've never heard the name of Jesus." They are referring to the unreached.

I challenge you with this, God will establish His church. He will continue to grow His Church. The question is, will you be a part of lowering the percentage of unreached? If not, I encourage you to consider how you can play an integral role in providing Gospel Access to the unreached. Maybe it's reallocating funds. Perhaps it is by sharing this blog post so others can learn about the unreached. Maybe it's experiencing what I did. Is it possible God is calling you to a short-term trip or serving long-term to work among the unreached? The NEXT STEP is up to you.

This article was shared by Chip Atkinson, USA Base Assistant Director


What is your NEXT STEP?


Watch this video about UPGs


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