Why does CVC focus on particular Unreached People Groups (UPGs)?”
Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
- What does the phrase “all nations” mean? The phrase to “all nations” is found throughout Scripture. But what does it actually mean? When Scripture speaks of nations, is it referring to the modern day nations-states that appear on our geo-political maps of the world? Not really.The New Testament Greek phrase is “pas ethnos.” The word ethnos is very similar to our English word ethnic. So, another way to say this is that the gospel will be preached to all the ethnic peoples or people groups of the world.God looks at the world through “people group eyes” rather than just seeing countries, cities, and regions. Whenever we want to reach a particular region of the world, research needs to be done on the people groups in that region. Each group could likely have its own language, ethnic identity, and cultural expression.We again see the phrase “pas ethnos” in Jesus’ words in the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
- What is on God’s heart? We have to stop and see what is on God’s heart for this world. It’s pretty simple. It’s that all people and all languages come to know and glorify God though a relationship with Jesus Christ.Ultimately, we see this Biblical reality fulfilled in Revelation 7:9-10, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'”Don’t these verses just take your breath away? God gives us a glimpse of the climax of history. Each people group is to have its place before the throne. The redeemed from every culture will fill heaven with their praises, bringing glory to God by the diversity of their worship. It will be a display of splendor that we cannot even imagine. God is on mission in the world, bringing all peoples to Himself so they will worship Him with gratitude and joy. What an amazing day that will be! Every believer ought to long for and work toward that great day.The end result is certain: all nations will one day praise Christ Jesus as Lord. He has called His Church to join Him as He gathers His people from every corner of the world. This is the basis for adopting an unreached people group.Pastor John Piper says, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” How can they worship the Lamb without knowing the Lord? We must go and tell.
- What is a People Group? It’s an ethno-linguistic group with a common self-identity that is shared by the various members. For strategic purposes it is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.
- What is an Unreached People Group? A people group is considered unreached (UPG) when there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to engage this people group with church planting. Technically speaking, the percentage of evangelical Christians in this people group is less than 2 percent. UPGs may have some Christ-followers, but they are either so small a minority or so uninterested in sharing their faith that they are not considered capable of reaching the rest of their people groups without foreign assistance.All people are equally lost without Jesus, but all people do not have equal access to the message of saving faith through Jesus. We call these groups UPGs.
- How many UPGs are in the world? There are 11,264 People Groups in the world. That’s 6.8 billion people. There are 6,577 Unreached People Groups in the world. That’s 3.9 billion people. (Statistics taken from www.peoplegroups.org. ) Clearly, we have an unfinished task.
- What will we do about this? Adopting a people group helps churches take an active and direct role in missions. Adopting an unreached people group means that a church cares enough about eternal destiny of at least one people group that the people of the church will serve them until they come to know the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ. Further, we see that this is a long-term commitment to parent new churches in the people group until they are multiplying churches on their own and sending missionaries to other peoples.When a CVC adopts an unreached people group, we make a commitment to do whatever it can to help reach them, to see them fill their place before the throne of Christ. We partner with a mission agency working with the people group. We commit to pray consistently and specifically, confident that God will do amazing things. We learn all that we can about the people, correspond with missionaries and build relationships with them, contribute resources, and even go on short-term mission trips. Sometimes God may even call members of the congregation to long-term service among their people group. Our church comes to love the people and becomes actively involved in bringing them to Jesus.We know that God is already at work in the world, bringing the nations to Himself. Adopting an Unreached People Group is a way to join Him in an endeavor of eternal significance.Think “access.” The church today needs to develop a growing urgency to reach out to all people who have little or no access to the gospel. It’s amazing, humbling, motivating, convicting, and joyous to share the good news where it’s never been shared before.At CVC, we want passionately to be a part of finishing the Great Commission. We want to make the Great Commission the Great Completion! And that’s why we have adopted an Unreached People Group.From 2000-2012 CVC adopted the Nzema People Group in Ghana, West Africa as our UPG. We are grateful that in the last 10 years over 40 churches have been planted among these people. We have helped to drill water wells, start micro-finance businesses, built church buildings, and are currently partnering with Tapestry Partners, International to build a medical center in Nzemaland. We praise God that missiologists no longer classify the Nzema as unreached.We have now adopted a people group we are calling the SOLI on Pearl Island in Indonesia as our new UPG. We cannot share the exact name and location because missionary work in this location and with these people is restricted. Please join us in prayer that God will move in miraculous ways to bring these indigenous people to faith in Christ that results in a church planting movement on the Island.