On September 19, 1853 a young man of 21 years old set sail from Liverpool bound for China. The man was the renowned missionary J. Hudson Taylor, and his boat would arrive safely near Shanghai on February 25, 1854 - the following year. The journey from his homeland to the distant foreign soil of his labor took over five months to complete.
A "people group" refers to the largest portion of a population where the gospel can spread without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance (cultural, linguistic, etc.). There are approximately 7,000 people groups that are currently unreached (less than 2% of Christian population). Approximately half of these are unengaged, meaning there is no known missionary work among them. Unreached and unengaged people groups constitute roughly half of the earth’s total population.
We exist in a day where the task is so quantifiable. We know who the people groups are, where they are, what language they speak, and their belief system. And, unlike the days of the great Hudson Taylor, someone can go to the vast majority of these peoples in twenty-four hours of transportation or less.
The primary issue with unreached and unengaged people groups is access. It’s not just that they aren’t saved. This is both true and tragic, but the deeper issue is that they languish with little to no access to the gospel. They live every day without knowing anyone who is a Christian, and no one in their lives knows a Christian either. There is nowhere in their entire country, perhaps, where they could purchase a Bible if there even is one in their language. Most likely they do not possess the technology to access the truth of the gospel online and if they do their government has likely blocked these pages.
The astonishing reality of our day is that while they do not have access to the gospel, we have access to them. We can reach them! It doesn’t take five months just to reach the coastland of their nation. You could be almost anywhere on the earth - to the most remote, unengaged people group - by the end of this week. What we regard as normal, every generation of church history that has gone before would regard as almost unthinkable. We have an unprecedented opportunity to access the nations that desperately need to hear the glorious truth about their Creator and Savior. His eyes of fire are watching us...how will we respond?