CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (ANS) — In the Friday morning (Oct. 22, 2010) plenary session of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization currently meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Paul Eshleman, Vice-President of Evangelism Strategies for Campus Crusade for Christ, spoke on the importance of reaching the Unengaged, Unreached People Groups (UUPGs) of the world.
The session began with prayer and a powerful video produced by Asialink and the History Makers, two mission-related organizations in the United Kingdom. Eshleman addressed the over 4,000 gathered delegates by saying, “If I could choose a time in history to live, I would choose right now because I believe we are living in that time of human history where we might see the fulfillment of Matt. 24:14.”
He continued by reviewing a diagram titled “Essential Elements of the Great Commission” that emphasized the importance of Scripture translation, reaching the Unengaged/Unreached People groups, evangelism, addressing the needs of oral learners, church planting, prayer and unity and compassion ministries. Eshleman challenged the delegates saying, “In terms of world evangelization, where is the church not present and what are we going to do about it?” God needs you to go where no one has gone. The fact that there are unengaged, unreached people groups today is wrong. How much longer will we wait? Can we be the men and women of Issachar and know what to do?
The congress delegates were then presented a list of the 639 “Unengaged, Unreached People Groups” with populations over 50,000. These are people groups that do not have full-time workers involved in church planting and evangelism. In some case the groups do not even have written Scriptures, oral Scripture resources, radio broadcasts or Gospel recordings. The list did not include an additional 1,073 with populations of 10,000 to 50,000. With excitement, Eshleman announced that in the past five years, 470 of the groups on the list of 632 now have Christian workers. These 470 groups total a population of 535 million including over 200,000 decisions for Christ, 8,000 churches with 4,000 workers but challenged the congress that more workers and resources were needed.
He encouraged the body to consider training and sending out “Scripture servants” to share the Gospel through Oral Bible translations. Mary Jane, a young graphic designer from Hong Kong who had participated on an oral Bible team said, “If I don’t love my own people with action, how can I expect others to love my Chinese.” She described how she had worked in a factory in a region of China to learn the language and show love to the people.
Amber Alexander, a young American woman, described her experience living in a Muslim village with a family as a Scripture servant. Amber and her team successfully translated 47 stories to create an oral story Bible. She recounted how 40 Muslim women from the village came to comfort her after she had received shocking news that her brother had died in the United States. One woman in Amber’s village was baptized. Later, this woman led six friends to receive Christ who now serve on oral Bible story telling teams in the region.
A leader of the The Finishing Task movement in India spoke of the great progress in his country where 310 or 70% of the Unengaged, Unreached People Groups can be found. In a country of 400 languages, 5,000 urban units and 600,000 villages, he showed how 307 UUPGs are now adopted and 260 are actively engaged with intential church planting and evangelism.
Along with the handouts, the delegates received a flash drive loaded with “Finishing The Task Resources” including extensive information on World Evangelization in the 21st Century, UUPGs, Disapora people groups, Church planting resources, a list of Jesus Film language translations and a partnership field guide for mission to people groups. The plenary ended with an invitation to “finish the task” as delegates received a commitment form to adopt an Unengaged, Unreached People Group or recruit Scripture servants for an Oral Bible project. As Eshleman prayed over the congress, the presence of the Holy Spirit filled the convention hall as delegates made commitments to reach these people groups for Christ. Delegates were also asked to update the list of 639 UUPGs with any information they might have regarding Christian workers or activities among these unreached populations.
ASSIST News Service
Rev. Christian Zebley is the National Director of Multicultural Alpha, overseeing The Alpha Course in 80+ languages throughout the United States. He is based at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California, where he ministers to the entertainment industry. He and his wife Kay served nine years in Japan as Presbyterian mission workers. Christian is a preacher, prayer igniter and mission mobilizer who travels globally to build evangelistic partnerships for the fulfillment of The Great Commission. He resides with his wife and three daughters in San Gabriel, California.