International (MNN) — We’ve got a breaking update for you today from the mission field. As of last week, there were 343 people groups still unreached and unengaged with the Gospel. Finishing the Task hosted the Within Sight conference December 4-6 with several ministries to discuss how to make Jesus known to these last people groups.
Now, every single unreached, unengaged people group (UUPG) has been adopted by a missions organization committed to seeing that group engaged in two years.
Finishing the Task’s Dusty Hoffman says, “When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He wanted the message of his life, death, and resurrection to go to every nation on earth. He wasn’t talking about political nations. He was talking about tribes or what we call people groups.”
According to Finishing the Task’s definition, a people group is considered engaged when a Christian or ministry has firsthand contact and is actively working on evangelization and church planting.
Hoffman says there is a strong sense of urgency among ministries today to see every people group engaged with the Gospel.
Fueling this sense of urgency, he says, “[It is] the Holy Spirit and that’s it. From the beginning of time, God has been committed to bringing as many of His lost kids home as possible. There is no person that is smart enough to create this. There is no organization that is well-equipped enough to lead it. This is God’s work and it is God Himself stirring His people to get after what has always been on His heartbeat.
“Behind what the Holy Spirit seems to be doing, there are several markers that have indicated to the global missions community that we’re in a new era. God’s people are praying like never before…. God’s people are going like never before. We’re getting to new places and the hardest-to-reach spots. Then…God’s people are partnering like never before.”
However, just because these last people groups are adopted still doesn’t mean ministry will be easy. There is a reason why these people groups are the last ones to be reached. They often live in extremely remote places or they have a very socially, politically, or religiously closed community.
“Just last week, we were in the office and I got this email from a partner in a closed country overseas. In order to reach the people group he is going after, he has to hop on his horse every morning as the sun comes up and horse ride through this treacherous mountain pass where boulders are falling literally as he’s driving by on his horse. Two hours to get to his people group, do his ministry for six [to] ten hours, and then take his horse back home. He does this seven days a week and in his email, his headline said, ‘Remoteness is stopping no one.’”
As for the other obstacles, Hoffman says, “Political pushback, remoteness, religious pushback — we can often think in America or in the West that those are new inventions. Many of those were already experienced in biblical times. The classic example was Peter [when he] was forbidden from preaching at one point early in Acts and he basically said, ‘Well, you have got to decide whether I ought to obey men or I ought to obey the Lord.’ There seems to be a spirit of that where people are wanting to do what they can even when there are other types of pushback.”
With all the last UUPGs adopted by ministries, what will be the goal for next year’s Finishing the Task conference?
“Stay tuned,” Hoffman chuckles. “We are having all sorts of prayerful discussions both within our office and the global missions community saying, ‘Let’s get our noses in the Scriptures and let’s ask Jesus again, ‘What’s next on your heartbeat?’’ We’re not quitting until the Lord comes back. That’s the true finish line.”
Even when every people group is considered reached and engaged with the Gospel, there will still be much to do in terms of church growth, discipleship, training leaders, maintaining a faithful witness within those communities, and more.
And, Hoffman says, you have a role to play. “You are God’s ‘plan A.’ There is a neighbor that God has put in your life that God intends for you to share Christ with. I’m not going to reach them. [We] at Finishing the Task are not going to reach them. They are in your backyard. There is a person at your office complex, at your school, at your college, and that’s how you join this story.
“Beyond that, how might you pray? Continue to pray for the 1.5 billion who have yet to have their first shot to hear about Christ. So pray for them and let’s see what the Lord does together.”