When we climbed out of the boat, his eyes locked on a man afflicted by demons — unable to speak even his own name. With all the authority of heaven, the young preacher cast the demons out, restoring his new friend’s mind and dignity. Shortly thereafter, the man’s sister came to meet the one who had healed him, and she committed her life to follow Jesus.
This story could have come straight from the Gospels. But it happened just months ago on one of Indonesia’s Spice Islands, where deep spiritual darkness reigns and the name of Jesus had not previously been known. A young Indonesian believer felt called to tell these island people of his love for Jesus. Today, new believers need to be discipled here, a church needs to be planted as others come to faith and leaders need to be trained.
The Spice Islands people are open to the gospel — and many of their countrymen who have come to faith are willing to evangelize them. All that is lacking is the proper leadership and training to make it happen.
So, through prayers and the support of many, two years ago Converge International Ministries launched the Spice Islands Initiative, one of its expected 20 large-scale missionary efforts designed to reach the world’s least-reached peoples.
According to the Joshua Project, a research initiative highlighting the world’s ethnic people groups with the fewest followers of Christ, “An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance.”
At Converge, we consider a group to be least-reached if less than 4% of the population is evangelical, and unreached if the number is less than 2%.
While we eagerly await the second coming of Christ, more than a quarter of the world’s population has never had the opportunity to hear of his first coming. They have no church, no Bible and no chance to respond to God’s love. Seventy thousand people will enter a Christless eternity today without ever hearing Jesus’ name.
An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance.
The Joshua Project
“The greatest injustice in the world is to be born, live and die and never hear a credible presentation of the gospel,” says Ivan Veldhuizen, Converge executive director of International Ministries.
There are opportunities to advance the gospel among every people group in every country, but we focus on the world’s least-reached peoples. We are asking God for a gospel movement among every least-reached people group in our generation.
When it comes to International Ministries, everything we do revolves around this vision. Although the Converge movement cannot achieve this vision alone, we can play an important role.
Veldhuizen reminds us that Jesus did not just command Christians to reach as many people as possible, but to reach as many people groups as possible. The task of reaching the world’s least-reached peoples belongs to every local church — and to every believer.
How you can engage the world’s least-reached peoples
Over the past two years, Converge International Ministries has launched its U.S. Engagement Team. Its purpose is to help you and your church engage the world’s least-reached peoples.
The team provides help in missions and development best practices, deaf ministry and global church planting partnerships at no cost to your church. It trains coaches to help churches discern where in the world God is calling them to engage by using 2:10 FOCUS (from Ephesians 2:10), a proven tool developed by Ellen Livingood of Catalyst Services. This training allows church leaders to respond to the Holy Spirit’s unique call for their church. As the untapped potential in our churches is unleashed for the Kingdom, mission engagement increases.
These efforts are already bearing fruit. This year, the first churches to complete the process are sending teams on vision trips to explore partnerships with our initiatives around the world.
The U.S. Engagement Team also helps churches partner with each other. Each national network, called a consortium, will be led by a high-capacity leader and will work in close collaboration with our initiative leaders and their teams. Highly respected leaders are stepping up to lead, such as pastor Paul Johnson of Woodridge Church, Medina, Minnesota, who heads the Thai Buddhist Consortium. Across the country, this consortium is raising up prayer, finances, volunteers and career missionaries to reach Thailand for Christ.
Pastors aren’t the only leaders stepping up. Doris Conley, a retired telecommunications executive in Erie, Pennsylvania, is coordinating the prayer effort for our Japan Initiative. Olga Smith, a full-time health industry professional in New England, is serving as the logistics facilitator for the 6° Initiative in the West African nations of Togo and Benin. People from across the Converge movement are serving in various capacities, and all are making a great impact for God’s Kingdom.
You and your church can make a similar impact and connect with the world’s least-reached people groups. Contact the U.S. Engagement Team at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how.