USA (MNN) — While the new president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board just gave his acceptance speech, he's making incredible plans when it comes to reaching the unreached people groups of the world.
Long time Oklahoma pastor Tom Elliff was named IMB president in February. He says today there are more than 6,700 people groups around the world. However, there's bad news.
"Approximately 3,800 of those groups are not only unreached, but they are unengaged. And although we pray for them, no one really has them on their radar. Nobody that we can tell has a specific strategy to reach those people groups."
An unreached people group is defined as a group of people where less than two percent of the population is evangelical Christian. Elliff says many of these groups are either in hard-to-reach areas or closed countries.
Elliff is issuing an "unreached people group" challenge. "We're calling on Southern Baptist Churches to 'cowboy up,' as we say in Oklahoma: to deliberately pray, learn about them, strategize, seek to gain entry, and seek a means of sharing the Gospel in one fashion or another."
Elliff says, "We have 44,000 Southern Baptist Churches here in the United States and only 3,800 unengaged people groups: why were these unengaged?"
According to Elliff, he'll be issuing the official challenge at the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Arizona June 12-15 with his ambitious goal. "We just have the confidence that this will happen, should the Lord tarry, between now and the next 12 to 15 months."
Pray that God will grant wisdom to the churches that will be implementing strategies to begin engaging these unreached and unengaged people groups.