Related Photos

What is an unengaged, unreached people group?


By Laura Fielding

Extremely isolated from the rest of the world, the A Che people number approximately 35,000. They are polytheistic (worship multiple deities) and believe that they cannot converse with the creator and thus cannot enter heaven.

They communicate using a dialect specific to their people group and do not read or speak the language of the dominant culture, creating an additional barrier to learning about Jesus Christ. The A Che are one example of about 3,400 unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPGs) across the globe with no direct access to the Gospel.

How will they hear the Good News?

At the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention, churches, small groups and individuals were challenged to commit to pray for an unreached people group (UPG). In June 2011, IMB President Tom Elliff took this challenge one step further — asking churches to “embrace” an unengaged, unreached people group.

Embracing a UUPG means praying for them as well as making a long-term commitment to learn about them and strategize how to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is the difference between an unreached people group and an unengaged,  
unreached people group?

A UPG is comprised of less than a 2 percent evangelical presence; there are more than 6,600 UPGs around the world. A UUPG is a subset of UPGs. In addition to being a population of less than 2 percent Christian, a UUPG has no active church-planting methodology implemented among them.

A variety of barriers, ranging from geographic to political, prevent a people group from being reached. Some live in physically hard-to-reach areas, such as a secluded mountain village that takes days to reach on foot. Others live in areas with extreme climates or in poverty-stricken, overcrowded cities. Additional barriers include a lack of political freedom and government-restricted access to outside information or religion, or situations where leaders — government, community or religious — fear change and do not welcome outsiders.

Also, there are groups like the A Che that have no resources to access the Gospel — there are no churches and no Bibles printed in their heart (native) language.

Elliff’s vision is for at least one Southern Baptist church or entity to accept the challenge to embrace each UUPG. If 3,400 churches commit to reaching the lost, secluded or forgotten people groups, “that would go a long way toward seeing the Gospel preached to every language, people, tribe and nation,” he said.

To learn how your church can embrace a UUPG, visit

Laura Fielding is a writer for IMB.

< return to previous page