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Posts Tagged ‘Bible Translation’

The Use of Christian Money and Personnel Among the Unreached People Groups and Bibleless People Groups

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

I am often defensive when the topic of money, and how I how I ought to spend it, is being preached at me. So I am well aware that discussing money and missions can be a sensitive subject, especially during the current, world-wide financial turmoil. It is not my intention to make any individual, congregation or agency feel guilty about their allocation of funds or personnel. Guilt may be a strong motivator in the world, but it has no place in Christian discourse unless it is to point to God’s grace to alleviate it. My sense is that outside of a small circle of informed Christians, most of us are unaware of the disparity between the resources spent on the reached and those spent on the unreached and Bibleless people groups of the world. Armed with knowledge of the reality of this situation, I believe we will begin to realign our mission monies and personnel.


So, I offer some pertinent facts. In 2004, according to Mission Frontiers, Christians gave about two hundred and thirteen billion dollars to Christian endeavors, including their local congregation. $213,000,000,000. Wow! That is a lot of zeros (yet it amounts to less than two percent of their earned income). Of that amount, only 11.4 billion dollars, or 5.4%, went to foreign missions. The bulk of that mission money, 87%, was allocated to mission work among those people groups that have already been reached. Ministries to the unreached made do with the remaining 13%. The bottom line is that only .000918% of all funds contributed to Christian causes (that’s nine cents out of every one hundred dollars) went to works concentrating on unreached people groups.


I recently discovered a great tool for showing this disparity. Rev. Shari Hobby, Co-Director Ethne, has developed a tool to “visually and experientially” impress a congregation or small group with the reality of the number of unreached peoples and the paucity of resources concentrated on them. The tool consists of a set of note cards that can be marked and distributed to among any gathering. You can find the procedure for marking the cards in Rev. Shari’s paper, DEVELOPING A PERSPECTIVE OF WORLD MISSION. I encourage you to use the tool.


Another recent discovery for me was an outstanding student developed and maintained website by the name of The Traveling Team with the purpose “to glorify God by educating and equipping college students to become World Christians who fulfill their responsibility in World Evangelization.” In Lesson 4 of their resources they point out that only 4% of foreign missions work force is working to reach unreached people groups. The other 96% labor among the reached.


On the first of this month, (Nov. 2008), the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly concluded in Pattaya, Thailand. They adopted six resolutions, one of which concerned the worldwide financial crisis. “While we hope that the painful consequences of the turmoil will be mitigated, our concern is that its impact will continue to permeate into more regions and economies of the world. We recognize that this economic crisis will have the most painful impact on the poor, who are the most vulnerable.” The resolution went on to call on Christians to care for the poor during the crisis and live simply and generously.


While trusting in the Lord to provide for the unreached people groups of the world, I must be honest that I wonder if efforts directed toward them might suffer greatly. Join with me in prayer that the unreached people groups and those working among them may truly experience the presence of the Lord in their lives and that their lives may be changed on this earth and the one to come. What are you seeing or foreseeing concerning the impact of the world financial crisis on the unreached people groups and missions working among them?


Unreached People Groups, Last Frontier People Groups, Bibleless People Groups and Scripture Use…some definitions

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

 

I am convinced that the present generation is going to be more conscientious about answering God’s call to reach the unreached and Bibleless peoples of the world. There are several signs that such a thrust has already begun.

 

There has been an increase in the number of short-term mission experiences that have a component that introduces young, prospective missionaries to unreached people groups. Due to the security issues, these mission trips are not publicized widely.

 

The number of blogs discussing unreached peoples is swelling. They are written by a diverse band of Christians – from a church planter on Vegas Strip (vinceantonucci.com) to a Student Minister in Georgia (Our Generation). They all seem to have a common understanding stated clearly by Martin Tucker in his Mission To Mexico blog on January 28th, 2008. “While there may be a few believers, there is no established local church that can reach out to the rest of the group. Therefore, for the people group to come to know Jesus Christ, one of two things must happen. They must receive a divine revelation from God, like Paul on the road to Damascus, or believers elsewhere must bring Jesus to them.“

 

Who are these unreached people? There are a couple popular definitions with subtle, yet important, differences. David Barrett in his annual survey uses unreached to refer to only those who have never heard the gospel whether from a face to face encounter with an evangelist or through some form of mass evangelism (radio, television, or print). He has another category Evangelized Non-Christians for “persons who are not Christians in any recognized sense but who have become aware of Christianity, Christ, and the gospel and yet have not, or not yet, responded positively by accepting them.”

 

Barrett’s exposure approach seems to classify the unreached people on the activity of the evangelizing agent (missionary) and not the impact on the target community. Dayton and Fraser in the revised edition of Planning Strategies for World Evangelism differ with Barrett stating that they “consider a people as unreached until there are worshiping groups of Christians in sufficient numbers with enough resources to complete the task of evangelization within their own kind without outside help.”

 

The International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention adds another category: Last Frontier People Groups – this classifies the unreached as those people groups that are less than 2% evangelical with no active church planting in the past two years. According to the IMB, in their September 2008 report of the Status of Global Christianity, 50.5% of the world’s people groups (5,841), comprising 23% of the world’s population, fit into this category (this report comes with some great graphics locating the unreached and last frontier peoples). These definitions seem to even cover what I call stalled church growth movements. I consider this definition to be the most comprehensive and useful for planning and prayer for reaching the unreached.

 

No matter which definition you prefer, there are still thousands of people groups who are unreached and deserve attention.

 

Ethnologue is probably the best publicly available source for finding which language groups still do not have Bibles in their own language. As far as the numbers are concerned, current Bible agencies’ data shows that there are a little over 6,900 languages in the world (not to be confused with people groups). Only around 430 of them have entire Bibles and another 1,100 have New Testaments or scripture portions. That leaves more than 2,400 languages without any Christian scriptures.

 

Why is it important to translate scriptures in the vernaculars of the world? Roger E. Hedlund pointed out in a presentation titled THE WITNESS OF NEW CHRISTIAN MOVEMENTS IN INDIA at an IAMS conference in Malaysia in July of 2004, that there were three elements found in all expressions of growing Christian movements in the non-Western world: “(1) indigenous grassroots leadership, (2) embeddedness in local cultures, and (3) reliance on a vernacular Bible.”

 

Speaking directly to the African context, the late African theologian, Kwame Bediako of Ghana, believed that “It is to the undying credit of the modern missionary enterprise from the West, and to the lasting benefit of the newer churches which have resulted, that the value of the vernacular Bible for converts was generally recognized quite early. There is probably no more important single explanation for the massive presence of Christianity on the African continent than the availability of the Scripture in the many African languages. By rejecting the notion of sacred language for the Bible, Christianity makes every translation of its Scriptures substantially and equally the Word of God. Thus the existence of vernacular Bibles not only facilitates access to the particular communities speaking those languages, but also creates the likelihood that the hearers of the Word in their own languages will make their own response to it and on their own terms.”

 

Translating scripture into the vernaculars of the world is not enough. These scriptures have to be put to use. I have been part of discussions at Pioneer Bible Translators and the International Forum of Bible Agencies (IFOBA) over what is called variously scripture impact, scripture engagement, and scripture use. There is the understanding that translating scriptures is just the beginning. They must be introduced in ways that transforms lives and societies.

 

Understanding the terms unreached people groups, last frontier people groups, Bibleless peoples and scripture use, is an important step toward focusing our prayers. This generation of Christians is a praying generation. And, our God listens to his people, especially when our prayers coincide with his desires for the world. Set aside a time to pray each week for the unreached and Bibleless peoples of the world. Keep looking back here for more ideas to focus your prayers.

 

What do you think would help us focus our prayers on the unreached?
Any creative ideas of how to get other Christians to pray for the unreached and Bibleless people groups?

 


Thousands of People Groups Are Still Unreached and Bibleless

Monday, October 27th, 2008

 

I just returned from the World Mission Workshop at Faulkner University where I gave two presentations. One concerned my Pilgrimage in Africa (more on that later), and the other was titled “What About the Remaining Unreached People“. That second presentation keeps playing over and over in my soul. I want to ask, “How is it that near the end of 2008 there are still over 5,000 people who have not had a new congregation planted among them in the past two years? Why are there more than 4,000 language groups without any scriptures, not even a gospel in their own language?” But, the answer to that question will not make any difference in the world. “What will I, and what will we do about it?” is a much more pertinent question.

 

The Southern Baptist International Mission Board has a live table showing the increase in the number of people born each second who do not have an adequate opportunity to hear the gospel. Look at it at http://dom.imb.org/theunfinishedtask.htm. Tick, tick, tick…. and let it sink into your soul.

 

In 1974, at the Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization, mission leaders cast a vision to see a church planted in every people group on the planet by the year 2000. Here we are 34 years later, not having made substantial progress toward that vision.

 

 What can we do right now? Three things: pray, pray, pray. If you feel moved by the Lord, join with me and set aside a time each day to pray for the unreached and Bibleless people of the world. I will continue to discuss this topic in this blog, but right now join with me in asking the Father to show us what He wants us to do about this sad situation.