Maybe you’ve heard the term “10/40 Window” in a sermon or from a visiting missionary, but you came away unsure about what the term really means and why it matters to you. It can seem like the kind of technical jargon only used by missions experts.
Many people feel this way, so here’s a very simple guide to the 10/40 Window.
The 10/40 Window is a rectangular geographic area stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Asia, covering 68 countries. Its name comes from its position between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude. Mission strategist Luis Bush and his wife, Doris, were looking for a way to illustrate the need and opportunity for people to hear about Jesus for the first time. I met and grew to love and respect Luis and Doris Bush when they temporarily moved to Virginia in the mid-2000s and attended my local church. Luis told me that it was really Doris who came up with the term “window” rather than its original name, the “10/40 Box.” To Doris, a window represented an opportunity to see important mission realities more clearly.
Two-thirds of the world’s population live within the 10/40 Window. The Joshua Project, a non-profit Christian ministry focused on gathering and distributing information about ethnic groups with the least access to the gospel, estimates that 5.11 billion individuals live in this area, representing 8,717 distinct ethnic groups.
Three out of every five people in the 10/40 Window have no access to the gospel. According to the Joshua Project, 68.6% of the 10/40 Window’s ethnic groups (5,984) are considered unreached, with a total population of 3.09 billion. That means there is no thriving local church movement in those ethnic groups. Some of the world’s largest unreached ethnic groups — the Shaikh, Yadava, Turks, Moroccan Arabs, Pashtun, Jat and Burmese — call this region home.
There is little if any separation between religion and state in much of the 10/40 Window. Western missionaries have long called this region the “Resistant Belt” because it includes the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. Many governments in the region show legal, economic, and social preference to their predominant religion and actively suppress the church or persecute followers of Jesus. ANM receives weekly (sometimes daily) stories of such suppression and persecution from many of our ministry partners in the 10/40 Window.
The poorest of the poor predominantly live in the 10/40 window. According to the Joshua Project,
[T]he 10/40 Window is home to the majority of the world’s poor. Of the poorest of the poor, more than eight out of ten live in the 10/40 Window. On average, they exist on less than a few hundred dollars per person per year. It has been said that “the poor are the lost, and the lost are the poor,” as the majority of the unreached live in the poorest countries of the world. There is a remarkable overlap between the poorest countries of the world and those that are least evangelized.
But God loves and cares for the poor, as James states so eloquently:
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5)
Spiritual strongholds that inflict and maintain poverty, disease, and spiritual, political, and religious oppression are embedded within the 10/40 Window. Billions of people are held captive within these strongholds and blinded to the transforming power of the gospel. Jesus identified with these poor and oppressed when He announced the beginning of His earthly ministry with a quote from the prophet Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18–19)
Jesus makes it clear in this passage that a significant part of His mission, and therefore of ours, is bringing the freedom and light of the gospel to those oppressed and blinded by the strongholds of darkness and evil. This “recovering of sight” and “setting at liberty” is what spiritual transformation looks like in the 10/40 Window.
According to the Apostle Paul, real transformation requires a struggle against spiritual strongholds.
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3–4)
The Bible does not see these billions of people primarily as citizens of countries. Rather, they are members of “the nations” (éthnos in ancient Greek), also called “tribes and peoples and languages” in the Bible.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev 7:9–10 ESV)
Therefore, when we look at the mission task through the 10/40 Window we see more clearly the vast number of tribes and peoples and languages that God is calling to faith in Jesus Christ. And we are then better able to appreciate the strategic implications of, and the necessity of obedience to, Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations.
How is ANM involved in the 10/40 Window? Of the 68 strategic countries in the 10/40 Window, ANM ministry partners are actively serving, evangelizing, and planting churches in 40 countries. In most cases only local believers and ministries within or near these countries have the access to reach the unreached in the 10/40 Window.
At ANM, we are grateful for God’s gift of Luis and Doris Bush, and their vision for the 10/40 Window. Their vision has helped us focus ours. As we look through this portal we are better able to see and engage with the incredible need of our world and the extraordinary opportunities for the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 24.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)