Unreached peoples and places are those among whom Christ is largely unknown and the church is relatively insufficient to make Christ known in its broader population without outside help.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Pastor Jonathan Bean give his lecture, “The State of the Kingdom and Unreached People Groups.” It was 2010, and we were sitting in a small classroom over at Southeastern Bible College. He had been invited to teach a missions seminar that day for graduating seniors. I was in my first week on the job here at Brook Hills, and I was tagging along.
Jonathan explained that a people group is an ethno-linguistic group with a shared identity based on language or ethnicity. It is the largest group of people within which the gospel can spread without significant barriers to understanding. Jonathan threw a map on the screen showing the 11,000 people groups that make up the human race. Then, he began to explain that over 6,000 of those people groups have little to no access to the gospel.
The next slide on the screen he showed had little red dots representing those without the gospel. There were millions of dots scattered throughout the world. The picture was overwhelming.
A student raised his hand and asked, “So what do we do?”
Jonathan replied, “Share the gospel.”
At that time, we were praying as a church for God to raise up men and women as church planters to go to some of those people groups. Four men and their families were called by God to plant their lives overseas in places where there were few to no believers. Over a period of two years, these men went through a church planting residency program at Brook Hills where they were evaluated, given resources, trained, strengthened, given the opportunity to recruit other teammates, and finally, strategically launched to go and serve among four very difficult and hard to reach people groups.
Since then, Brook Hills has committed to pray for, support, and send resources so the Church can be planted, established, and strengthened among these people groups.
As we celebrate Christmas this week, we want to remind you who those people groups are so we can continue to pray for and participate in the advancement of God’s Kingdom among them.
The majority of the 9-10 million who make up this people group are located between Central and South Asia, with smaller populations in the Arabian Peninsula and Middle East. These people are a fierce people, full of passion and intensity and are almost entirely Muslim. They are among the most prioritized unreached, unengaged people groups in the world. They are an extremely difficult people to access and engage. Islam dominates the culture around them and is especially harsh in its response to Christianity. Many workers have tried to engage them with little success. Few have found a sustainable way to be among them. To this day, there are few believers and few – if any – known churches.
There are approximately 12 million Hui located throughout East Asian cities and villages. The Hui are entirely Muslim. Some are Muslim in name only, while others are practicing Muslims who worship in mosques scattered throughout East Asia. The Hui believe their religion, Islam, makes them who they are ethnically – yet, most of them have never read the Qur’an and do not even understand the Arabic prayers. Rejecting Islam in most cases results in being disowned by one’s family. Though churches have been sending workers to live among the Hui since 1885, there are only about 500 known believers and just a few churches today.
The Arundo are a people group of over 10 million located primarily in North Africa. There are also significant pockets in Western Europe, Great Britain, and North America. The Arundo are almost entirely Muslim. There are abundant physical needs among the Arundo. Their situation has been called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Spiritual oppression is normal. Islam dominates the culture and is especially harsh in its response to Christianity. This causes the small number of Arundo Christians to live in spiritual isolation and churches to gather in secret. The Arundo are less than 0.01% Evangelical Christian and among the top five unreached people groups in the world.
*Arundo is an adopted nickname for a people group whose identity must be kept secure.
The peoples of the Middle East are spread across 20 different countries in North Africa and the Middle East and include more than 287 million people. The primary language spoken among these people is Arabic. Islam began in this part of the world in the 7th century, and to this day, the overwhelming majority still adhere to the Muslim faith. The people of the Middle East have no freedom of religion. The legal system is based on Islamic law, and the conversion to another religion is punishable by death if the accused does not recant. Non-Muslim public worship is strictly prohibited, and although the governments might recognize the right of non-Muslims to worship in private, religious leaders do not. Currently there are few known believers among the people of the Middle East. The price to follow Christ is high.
Praise God for allowing our church to participate in His name being made known among these people groups. As we come together this week as a family to celebrate the birth of Christ, join with us as we pray for those who still have yet to hear about this gift of life. Then, let us renew our commitment to participate in risking everything for the sake of these people knowing Christ.
Callie has served on staff with our Global team since 2011 and has been a member of Brook Hills since 1990.
To learn more about church planting at Brook Hills, visit brookhills.org/church-multiplication.