IMB reaches unreached — according to report

By November 13, 2006

USA (MNN/BP) — The Southern Baptist International Mission Board and their partners baptized more than 475,000 new believers last year, started nearly 23,500 churches and began church planting among 104 people groups for the first time.

They also planted churches among 19 people groups where no Baptist churches previously existed – including 13 peoples with no evangelical churches of any kind.

“For these 13 people groups, for the first time in their history there is a church representing our Lord and Savior to an unreached people that have never heard the Gospel, don’t have a Bible in their language and have never known what church looks like,” says Gordon Fort, International Mission Board vice president for overseas operations.

These numbers come from the board’s 2006 Annual Statistical Report, compiled from statistics reported by more than 2,000 separate entities — including hundreds of mission teams assigned to reach ethnic people groups, cities and other population segments.

The report, covering calendar year 2005, focuses on three “key result areas”: engagement of unreached people groups and urban centers; advance toward church-planting movements around the world; and progress of overseas Baptist partners in engaging people groups and starting church-planting movements.

“Engaging” a people group means more than sending missionaries or even winning people to Christ. It means applying church-planting methods that enable local believers to begin finishing the task of evangelizing their own cultures.

Among the most significant results for 2005, Southern Baptist missionaries and their partners: engaged a total of 1,170 people groups worldwide, three-quarters of whom are classified by mission researchers as unreached (less than 2 percent of the population claiming evangelical Christian faith). They also engaged for the first time 104 people groups, 73 of whom are unreached, with a combined population of nearly 100 million.

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