Reclaiming the Meaning of Unreached

Adapted from Marvin J. Newell's original article. Used with permission.

Your neighbor across the street does not believe in Jesus.

Your brother-in-law is still unsaved, though he has repeatedly been presented with the gospel.

Your church has an outreach to Haiti, with a full-time couple serving there.

Just because someone does not believe the gospel does not mean they are unreached.

Though none of the people referenced here have come to faith in Christ, contrary to popular thinking among many Christians, they are not "unreached."

How is this so and why does this matter? The short and simple answer relates to gospel access and opportunity, and the church's mission.

Just because someone does not believe the gospel does not mean they are unreached. "Unreached peoples" are actually those who have no opportunity to hear the gospel at all. They don't have a chance because they don't have a Jesus follower nearby to explain the good news of Christ to them. In most instances there is no church, no Bible, and no way of hearing about the love of God and His redeeming work through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

"Unreached peoples" are actually those who have no opportunity to hear the gospel at all.

To better understand who are considered reached and who are not, we can divide the 7.6 billion inhabitants of the world into four segments:

Reached and Saved - These are Christians who believe in the Bible as God's Word and have received by faith alone the gracious atoning work of Jesus on their behalf.

Reached but not Saved - They have some knowledge of the gospel but with no or nominal acceptance. They are "Christians" by tradition rather than by conviction. They have access to the gospel – it is all around them – without believing it.

Under-reached and Unsaved - They have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel, although it is nearby. They have some access to the gospel through various means, such as a nearby believer, through media, or the internet, but it is woefully sparse.

Unreached and Unsaved - They sadly have no witnessing community within their people group or in their geographic area – no access to the gospel. They have no opportunity to hear, no chance to believe.

For a further breakdown of the above categories see the Joshua Project Progress Scale summary.

Adapted from original article.



Population: 25,392,000
Language: Uzbek, Northern
Religion: Islam
Status: Unreached 



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