Have you ever found yourself waiting in a quaint coffee shop for someone? You wrap your hands around a unique and rough clay mug and squeeze a little tighter as you lift the cup, enjoying the scent and the taste. Then, lifting the cup you peer at the bottom for a stamp or signature from the potter, trying to waste a little time. Without warning, a small bell dings, signifying another person entered the establishment. Glimpsing up, a woman, from China’s A Che people waves at you with a friendly smile. You walk towards the cash register and excitedly wait for her to finish ordering. Then, tightly embrace and point towards the table you have saved for the afternoon’s conversation.
The situation may seem familiar, with the exception of the woman’s ethnicity. The A Che people live in southern China, near the Laos and Vietnam border. Their remote and rural location causes them to be classified as an unreached people group. Very few people in Western society have met a member of the A Che people.
Unreached people groups remain unseen, therein lies the problem. We don’t have coffee with the A Che. We don’t wait on the Luowu people at restaurants. We don’t collaborate with the Jerba people on work and school projects.
Our problem with unreached people groups is that they are unseen. Make no mistake it isn’t their problem, it belongs to us. Vague prayers for “unreached people groups” rarely last more than a few moments due to a lack of personal connection. Any thought devoted towards people groups in this category yields mental images of a world map, rural farmers, a fisherman on a boat, hazy pictures that could apply to a multitude of things. Rummaging through names in our brain we might try to remember a missionary couple we heard speak that lives in a distant mountain range. A sermon preached out of Matthew 28 raises a passion in our hearts to pray for the unreached, missionaries, and translators. How can perseverance be added to this zeal for the great commission? As stated before, OUR problem with unreached people groups is that they are unseen. In order to ignite sincere fervor for the unreached we need to invest a pursing love into the relationship, making ourselves see them.
Look at a list or map of unreached people and the daunting task of Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” should start to impress a responsibility in us. Jesus gave the great commission to a group of people, not an individual. However, as the group it is imperative we individually feel the burden of the unreached.
How can I make myself see the unseen?
Choose a group and find a special connection that returns a lasting conviction. Did you know the A Che people in China belong to a larger group called the Yi. They live in the mountains and do not speak or read Chinese, they retain their own dialect. The Luowu people still use a matchmaker and the wedding ceremony lasts three days, ending in a horn signaling the official start of the marriage. They also participate in ancestor worship. The Jerba live on an island off the coast of Tunisia. However, they often work on the mainland because of drought and other hardships. Research the struggles of a group in order to grow a compassionate heart. This compassion fuels earnest prayer. Find out why they remain unreached. Do they reside in a geographical area that is hard to travel to? Are they hostile towards Christians? Is their dialect rare and missionaries find communicating strenuous? Are they broken from years of war or genocide? Pray for increased resources to travel, pray for the softening of their hearts, pray for translators to have a breakthrough, pray for Christ’s resting peace. Pray for them by name. Take away the mysterious mask of “unreached people groups” and replace it with the identity of a real people that need prayer.
To learn more about unreached people groups, visit Joshuaproject.net. To learn how you can bring the gospel to these unseen people, click here. To interact with the author on Facebook, visit https://www.facebook.com/rachael.schaefer .