Someone once said, “When we think of a world without Jesus we think that, for the most part, they have rejected Him. The greatest tragedy is not that they have rejected him, it is that have never even heard of Him.” While that is true in so much of the world, it is especially true of the Far East. We call these people or ethnic groups who have yet to hear the Gospel “unreached” or “least-reached” groups. The Joshua Project, whose data we use as a standard, defines unreached or least reached peoples as having “no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people group.” This is usually further defined as a people group with less than 2% evangelical Christians.
Let’s take China as an example. China has a population of 1.3 billion people. We in the West tend to think that all the people in China are…well, Chinese. 1.3 billion Chinese. But the truth is that within the population of China there are hundreds of people groups separated by culture, religion, language, and dialect. The Joshua Project defines a people group as “a significantly large grouping of individuals who perceive a common affinity for one another. For evangelization purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.”
There are about 465 unreached people groups within China itself, accounting for more than 180 million people. Their names include Hakka, Bouyei, Zhuang, Hmu, Nosu, and more. Some are very large ethnic groups and some quite small. Many are minority groups who live in difficult-to-reach places, and some are simply difficult to reach because of their history. But they all have one thing in common: very few believers.
Two rather large groups of unreached peoples in China have something else in common: they are nationally Chinese but Muslim in religion. The Hui and the Uyghurs live within the geo-political boundaries of China and are, in fact, Chinese. There are about 10 million of both groups, and historically there has been very little Christian movement among them. Yet we are seeing God do a work among both the Hui and the Uyghurs. For the first time in history, we are seeing some come to Christ. There are fewer than a thousand believers among both groups, but there are believers. Hui- and Uyghur-background believers are sharing Christ among their own people. Praise the Lord for what He is doing.
It is the goal of Advancing Native Missions to reach the remaining unreached groups like the Hui and Uyghurs. One reason that God is blessing the work of this ministry is that we are doing that thing which is the nearest and dearest to the heart of God: to bring honor and glory to the Father by making His Son known among those who do not know Him. From a logistical point of view, God is honoring this work because of our thousands of indigenous (native) partners who already live among these people, who speak the same language, share the same customs, and share a passion for taking the message of Jesus Christ to the next village.
Welcome to the paradigm of native missions.