We can rejoice that God is uniting several of the world evangelization movements to focus together on making Jesus known to every person on earth by 2033. It is a fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 that we may be one as He and the Father are one so that the world will know that the Father sent Him. Such unity is crucial for the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission. However, if we are serious about fulfilling His Commission, we also need to be crystal clear as to what the objective of that commission is and how it should be accomplished. Otherwise, the Great Commission could become the Great Omission.
In passages such as Matthew 28:19 or Matthew 24:14, He told His disciples to focus on the peoples of the earth. In the original Greek New Testament, it is written as panta ta ethne, meaning all ethnic people groups. This phrase is repeated in all the Great Commission commands and in His call for us to pray in Mark 11:17 where He also declared “My house will be called a house of prayer for panta ta ethne.” These are not “nations” as in political countries but God-lovingly-created, unique people groups with their own distinct cultures, languages, and worldviews. They are a diverse, complex mosaic of ethnic groups that make up every country on earth.
“Nations” is a misleading English translation of the original Greek phrase that has obscured the actual meaning of what Jesus was wanting His apostles and successive mission and evangelism efforts to focus on. This misunderstanding has often resulted in a purely geographical approach to mission and evangelism, aiming primarily at political countries or cities, that has caused thousands of people groups to remain hidden and therefore neglected. It has also resulted in an individualistic approach to evangelism that has harmfully extracted individual converts from their socio-cultural groups rather than mission strategies that seek to disciple whole people groups as Jesus instructed. Potential movements to Christ have thus been cut off because the majority have regarded individual early converts as cultural traitors, concluding that the Gospel will therefore not be a positive influence on their society.
The Lord is extremely passionate about those who have never had a chance to meet Him because for almost 2000 years many of these people groups are still across cultural and language barriers from the existing churches and their mission and evangelization movements. There are currently 4900+ Frontier People Groups that are the least reached people groups on earth. On average, each has only one Jesus follower per thousand people (some having no known believers), and all together they make up more than 2 billion people, or one in four humans alive today. The great majority of them are in South Asia and the Muslim world. With such a tiny number of those who follow the Lord, if there are any, the rest of the members of these people groups are unlikely to hear about Him unless special prayer and mission efforts are focused on them. Each FPG needs a collaborative network of mission agencies, churches, prayer ministries, as well as many supportive individuals to focus ongoing intercession on them according to Matt. 9:37-38. As we obey that command of Jesus to pray to the Lord of the harvest, He has promised to raise up and send workers into these harvest fields, and so movements for Christ will be ignited. In that way, all in those people groups will eventually get to hear the Gospel presented in their own linguistic and cultural understanding so it can be fully embraced in their hearts.
When He was on the cross, Biblical commentators maintain that He was quoting from memory Psalm 22. It starts with the plaintive cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Have you ever noticed the final verses of that psalm? They speak of “the joy that was set before Him”, which was that all the people groups at the ends of the earth would bow before the Lord and serve Him. That was most likely what was on His mind during His final suffering. The large-scale turning to the Lord by the peoples of the earth will be the fulfillment of both the Abrahamic Covenant of Gen. 12:3, the blessing of all people groups through Abraham and his great descendant, the Messiah, and the Great Commission. The Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament uses the same phrase panta ta ethne, in Gen, 12:3 (just as the New Testament Greek does for the Great Commission) and the Hebrew mishpaha is similar in meaning. This is the passion of the Lord and reward for His suffering (as the Moravians would put it), throughout Scripture and human history, until all these people groups are included in that vast multitude around the throne of the Lamb in Rev. 5:9 and 7:9.
If we in the current world evangelization movements can focus our prayers and mission/evangelism efforts on these major unreached people groups, the Frontier People Groups, it will be used of the Lord to connect the prayer and mission movements much more intimately and powerfully so that His Great Commission can be fulfilled in these coming 10 years.
Focusing first on the largest almost 300 FPGs of more than one million in size (about 1.6 billion or 80% of the total population of the 4900+ FPGs) is very doable and strategic since, as movements develop in them, most likely there will be an overflow or ripple effect to the smaller FPGs around them. As a practical step, the Joshua Project prayer cards that help churches and individuals adopt one or more of these almost 300 larger FPGs for ongoing prayer can be used. The Joshua Project has much additional information on these least reached people groups along with other helpful resources to guide prayer and enable collaborative outreach. Lists of the unreached people groups in every country as well as profiles are available there. Check out this valuable website at www.joshuaproject.net/frontier/interactive. Also, here is a helpful phone app to enable us to pray for one of the <300 each day. Please try it out at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.frontierpeoplegroups.frontier.
Another helpful website is https://blessfrontierpeoples.org/ that enables you to pray for one of the largest 31 FPGs (each more than 10 million in population) each day of the month. GetInvolved.com/FPG is a new web platform that will enable people to adopt and pray online for Frontier People Groups with others who have chosen the same groups.
Such specific and united prayer, using the above, God-given resources, will be explosive for His Kingdom and for finishing this all-important task!
2 It has been said that no one should be able to hear the Gospel multiple times when others have never heard it once. It is time that we now focus priority efforts on the over 2 billion people in unreached people groups, the panta ta ethne of Jesus’ Great Commission, who still have not had the opportunity to hear. As Isaiah heard the Lord say, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” His reply was, “Here am I. Send me!” May we also respond in the same way, offering ourselves, our prayers, our organizations, and our united efforts to make Jesus known so that no people group will be omitted, but all will be represented in that Eternal Family the Lord has been so passionately and persistently creating through all human history!