You see the pictures regularly, and you hear the pleas for help. Somebody flashes a photo up on your screen of the most pitiful little face who seems to come from a far-off place, and your immediate thought is that they are simply tugging on your heartstrings to sponsor this child. Although a focus on material poverty is the emphasis, you wonder if that is a ploy just to get you to sympathize and send your money. Although this seems common, there are few pleas made for those who are in spiritual poverty.
Maybe you know the stats, and maybe you are aware that in the world of missions there is an emphasis on unreached people groups. This is sort of yesterday’s news in the missions world, but there are many individuals and churches who haven’t gotten on board. They have yet to realize that a little over 3 billion of the world’s population has no opportunity to hear about Jesus because it will take outside assistance to reach their group with the gospel. They have yet to consider that just under half of the people in the world have no opportunity to hear unless someone goes to tell them, but our heartstrings just don’t get pulled to action upon hearing this fact. There are no faces flashing across our screen begging us to go, and stats aren’t enough for us to do something. What might really move us to action?
Without ever issuing a plea for the purse strings, there ought to be a plea to prayer. What about praying with the goal of adopting a people group from one of these 7,000+ unreached groups? Has that been considered? Joshuaproject.net puts up a people group of the day, and that is one way to pray for some unreached peoples. However, much like sponsoring a child seeks to connect your heart to that child, praying for one specific group that has been “adopted” might be a way to tie the heartstrings to the cause. Here are some potential ways that an individual, a group Bible study, or a church congregation can go about adopting an unreached people group for the purpose of prayer:
- Consider any natural bridges that already exist between you and/or your congregation and an unreached people group which might include denominational loyalties, missionaries on the ground that are supported or known, ethnic groups that live in your town, or groups that the Holy Spirit lays on the hearts of an individual or church leader.
- Seek counsel from another church who has adopted an unreached people group to ask them how they chose their focus.
- Go to https://joshuaproject.net/ and find an unreached group! There are plenty of ways to search as well as printable people group cards that can be distributed and used.
- Establish a regular prayer fellowship once the unreached people group has been adopted so that there are repeated, consistent opportunities to pray for this group.
- Inform the congregation about who the people group is in terms of their region and culture as well as informing what prayer requests are being made on their behalf.
- Look for ways to be involved either with giving financially to someone who is seeking to reach this group or through taking a short-term trip or through encouraging others to use their time and talents to volunteer with those seeking to reach this group.
Perhaps the end result will be a slight tugging on the heartstrings to consider the spiritual poverty that this unreached group is facing. Perhaps a little compassion will develop in the hearts of those who pray. Perhaps a stronger appreciation for the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ which has been extended already to those who are believers will be flowing out of the hearts and souls of those who are praying. Whatever the result, there is much motivation to adopt an unreached people group today!
Kirsten McClain serves in church missions mobilization for Propempo International and OMF. She has been serving churches and mission agencies for the last 20 years. She has a heart to see the church realize her potential in missions and is driven to be a mobilizer to this end. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children, and she is ready to direct pastors to the various resources that Propempo uses to come alongside churches so that they can do missions well. www.propempo.com