Reaching the Unreached People World for Christ

Reaching the “unreached people groups” (UPG) has become the buzzword for Christian mission efforts in recent years. But that idea raises some good questions. Where did this idea come from? What defines an unreached people group? Does Reach A Village work to reach the unreached people groups?

These are very important questions for those engaged in trying to reach the world with the Gospel. Jesus commanded, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18–20

This UPG idea comes from a particular interpretation of a Greek New Testament word ethnos from which we get our English word ethnic. In our English language Bibles, the word has been translated mainly as Gentiles or secondly as nations. So the word nations — used by many mission organizations — came from a more specific interpretation defining ethnos as a specific ethnic or cultural group with their own language or dialect. That sparked a movement within missions to locate these specific groups and do more Bible translation projects for them. This was a worthy project, if we compare it to the illustration Jesus gave of leaving the 99 to look for the one lost sheep, recorded in Matthew 18:12.

As a consequence, this isolated focus on groups of unreached people absorbed a tremendous amount of Great Commission strategy and resources. New organizations were formed, and other mission organizations formed new departments. Almost every mission group began to place this new vocabulary into their websites and communications, as well as to include it as part of their strategy. I have worked alongside many ministries like those I have described. 

Then why found Reach A Village? And how is Reach A Village different?

As believers, we agree with the premise of leaving the 99 and seeking out the lost “one,” as Jesus taught. But as with many Bible teachings, there is also another teaching of Jesus in John 10:16, which says, I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” The same Jesus teaches us in many different ways.

We realized that while UPG and UUPG (unengaged unreached people group) efforts were gaining attention and resources, massive numbers of people in major population groups were being neglected or ignored. Many of these major people groups — hundreds of millions of people living in villages across our globe — were literally “passed over” with efforts to share the Gospel. They became remote pockets of “hidden people.”

Both types of “lost sheep” need to be rescued.

Reach A Village was founded to reach the reachable people groups — with populations numbering in the tens of millions — who actually already had a Bible in their heart language, but they had never heard or seen or read or studied God’s Word! These groups of people actually had believers living in their cultural/ethnic/national group, but they had never met a follower of Jesus!

Reach A Village’s strategy is a simple one, already taught by Jesus to the original 12 disciples, as recorded in Mark 1:38, “Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’”

Our mission is to find, mobilize and equip the believers to reach the unreached villages in their own country and related cultures with the Gospel.

When believers learn from the Bible in their heart language, they not only have John 3:16, they have Matthew 28:18–20 as well. They are called by God to reach their “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria” and the uttermost villages in their own country. These trained and equipped local believers actually can reach the “unreached people groups” that reside in their mountains and jungles.

Reach A Village is helping that happen in more than 20 countries around the world. For example, we have ministry partners in Indonesia who work exclusively to reach the unreached people groups of Indonesia. Indonesian believers are locating themselves among the unreached people groups in order to share the Gospel through God’s Word and daily life. We help provide the training and scripture resources they need to reach those specific people groups.

Reach A Village is investing into the ministry efforts of local believers who have the call of God, the Word of God and the power of the Spirit of God to do even far “greater works” than we could do if we went there ourselves as a expat “missionary.” They reach unreached people both in neighboring villages and even villages in the farthest reaches of their countries.

Every day, their stewardship and the impact of what they are doing demonstrate the power of God’s Word in every culture. They are living in Jesus’ promise in John 20:21–22, “‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”

By Bob Craft

Reach A Village Founder and President

March 2024

*Please note the accompanying map image on our homepage is stock and is not intended to describe exact ministry locations.