Unreached People Group Movement
As his last words, Jesus commanded us to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, and throughout history, obedient and faithful disciples have been advancing the kingdom of God by following this command.
According to the Bible, the unit to measure the evangelization of the world is the nation, not the individual (Gen. 12:1-3, Matt. 24:14, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8, 2:8-11). We know this is true because Jesus said that the end would come when the gospel has been witnessed to all nations (Matt. 24:14). The Greek word ethne found in these passages is translated as nations, but meaning of ethne is not countries but ethnic or people groups. A people group is the largest group within which the gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering significant barriers of understanding or acceptance because of a shared culture, language and other factors.
In 1974 at the Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization, Dr. Ralph Winter made a presentation that began a new era of mission. He introduced the overwhelming need of the gospel to unreached people groups, groups that have no indigenous church able to evangelize their own people, and showed using early data that out of the estimated 24,000 people groups in the world 17,000 were still unreached. This shocked many people because most Christians thought that the Great Commission had already been completed or was very near to completion. Winter caused a paradigm shift in mission, and following the conference, a flurry of mission activity emerged in response to the immense remaining task of reaching billions of unreached peoples. Ralph Winter and his contemporaries reawakened the world mission movement, and completing the task of the Great Commission became the biggest assignment of the World Church. Many mission initiatives like the AD2000 and Beyond, Joshua Project, Adopt a People Clearinghouse, and Finishing the Task were birthed over the next two decades.
AD2000 & Beyond Movement and the 10/40 Window
In 1989, after GCOWE 2000 and the Second Lausanne Congress, the unreached people group movement became more practical and strategic through the founding of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement by Thomas Wang and Luis Bush. The AD2000 movement’s vision was to unite the world church with a vision to plant a church, a fellowship of believers, in every unreached people group by the year 2000.
As the international director of the AD2000 Movement, Luis Bush appealed to the World Church for participation and cooperation in the vision. AD2000 grew into a global network of Christian mission organizations, denominations, churches and individuals committed to world evangelization. One of AD2000’s main initiatives was the Joshua Project, an initiative to focus on the greatest need of the gospel – 1,700 of the largest unreached people groups in the world with a population of 2.2 billion people.
The AD2000 and Beyond Movement spread the vision to reach the 10/40 Window, a region first coined by Luis Bush.
The 10/40 Window was and continues to be the area of the world in which 90% of the world’s unreached people groups live. The 10/40 Window spans as a resistant belt across North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude. It consists of North Africa, the Middle East, Western Asia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Indochina, South Asia, and East Asia (see map below).
Here are four of the most important characteristics of the 10/40 Window:
- Over 95% of the regions within the 10/40 Window can be classified as mission-restricted and creative-approach areas. For this reason, traditional mission methods cannot be used or are ineffective in these areas. It is usually illegal to do Christian mission work among the indigenous people in these areas. For these kinds of areas that forbid or restrict Christian mission activities, new methods and creative approaches must be implemented.
- Most of the countries within the 10/40 Window are industrialized with a strong centralized government. Some unreached people groups are a minority people group within a developed or developing country.
- The 10/40 Window is characterized by strong traditional religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. It was also the birth place of past world empires.
- The 10/40 Window is an area that has the fastest growing urbanization rates. Therefore mission within the 10/40 Window should be focused on gateway cities.
Back to Jerusalem
The westward movement of the gospel is a clear trend throughout redemptive history. The gospel that began in Jerusalem has circled around the globe and is once again heading back to Jerusalem. This is the history of “Back to Jerusalem.”
The Back to Jerusalem vision started in China in the 1920s by a house church called the Jesus Family. The Jesus Family followed the lifestyle of the Early Church by sharing all of their possessions and boldly preaching the gospel. Several believers near the southern part of the Henan province began to pray and proclaim a vision of “preparing the return of Jesus by preaching the gospel until it reaches Jerusalem.” They continued the westward movement of the gospel and went to share the gospel in the westernmost part of China, which was Xinjiang, Uyghur. Their vision was to pass through western China, follow the Silk Road into western Asia and finally reach Jerusalem while preaching the gospel along the entire way.
Back to Jerusalem is no longer just the vision of the Chinese church, but it is now spreading to become the vision of the global church. To preach the eternal gospel to peoples of all nations as we continue the westward movement of the gospel is the last project of the global church (Rev. 14:6-7). Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, which gave an open door for the gospel, Central Asia has experienced an explosive spiritual revival over the past 20 years. The gospel is marching westward through Afghanistan, North India, Iran, Iraq, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and continuing all the way to Jerusalem.
The Back to Jerusalem movement is becoming fully operational through the Chinese Church and other global churches. The Chinese Church has commissioned more than 100,000 missionaries, and China is acknowledged to have commissioned the largest number of missionaries. Right now the Chinese Church is praying to send out 1,000,000 missionaries to the Muslim world. Both the mainland Chinese Church and the Church of the Chinese Diaspora who are spread throughout the U.S., Southeast Asia, and Europe are united to run with the Back to Jerusalem vision to overcome Islam with the gospel.
Satan will respond violently to block the continuation of God’s history, but God will give his holy church the victory. Faithful disciples who do not fear death will rise up one by one and stand together as a holy army to complete God’s redemptive history. They will march with into all nations and to the ends of the earth until they reach Jerusalem, continuing the westward movement of the gospel.
The Global Alliance of the End Time Church
As we live in a time with ever increasing global hostility towards Christians, there is an urgent need for the global evangelical church and its committed believers to form a strategic alliance. We must overcome systematic anti-Christian persecution and become history makers for God’s kingdom. God, who started the gospel movement on the day of Pentecost, will complete history through the church and the saints who are loyal to him to the point of death. When Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come,” he said it as a prophecy that will be completed. Jesus made history through the cross, and following his example, most of the twelve disciples were martyred preaching the gospel. This is the reality of our history. We will march on boldly and commit our lives to preaching the eternal gospel to the ends of the earth.
During the Roman Empire’s persecution of Christians, Apostle Paul spoke of the elect (Rom. 11:7). When persecution comes, there will be an increase of apostates and forces within the church that will try to destroy the church. This is why Paul spoke about the elect in reference to Elijah. When Elijah said, “I am the only one left!” God answered him saying, “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In Romans 11, Apostle Paul is saying that just as God continued history through the remnant of 7,000 during Elijah’s time, God will do it again in the time of the persecution of the Roman Empire through those that have the spirit of the elect.
The concept of the elect and the faithful remnant is unchanging. Even now as the antichrist world system begins to persecute believers, God will continue history through the churches and the believers with the spirit of the elect. In other words, the churches and followers of Jesus Christ must rise up and commit to the completion of the Great Commission with the spirit of the elect. We must form a strategic alliance to overcome the enemy’s system and complete God’s mission. God has given the church the power to overcome all darkness, and he will display this authority of the heavens upon the churches and the believers of Jesus Christ.
For many centuries, world mission has been led the western church, but after September 11, 2001, world mission leadership has begun to rapidly shift from the West to the churches in Asia. In November 2010, the third Lausanne Congress was held in Cape Town, South Africa. The fact that Islam, the strongest force against world mission, was not mentioned shows the limitations of western church leadership. We are in the era where world mission is propelled by pioneering frontier missions. The western church cannot complete the Great Commission alone. Evangelical churches and believers that are committed to world mission must establish a strategic partnership and alliance with one another. This is the time for Global Alliance.