by Doug Nichols
The number of those to be won to Christ in Africa and Asia has more than tripled since 1900. Almost three billion people today have little or no knowledge of Christ and His salvation. Never has the challenge been greater for total, global advance with the Gospel.
Most of those to be reached are often called the “Hidden People”. Why? - Because major cultural, racial, linguistic, social and other barriers “hide” them from the eyes and the concerned efforts of most evangelizing Christians. For example, if every Christian were to win his or her culturally near neighbor to Christ, 2.5 to 3 billion non-Christians would still remain totally untouched because they live outside the cultural home-base of every active Christian in the world.
Where can some of these Hidden People be found? – Consider just a few illustrations:
•The Philippines is a country of over 100 million people, with as few as three million true followers of Christ. There are over 24,000 small towns without a local evangelical church. These small towns are hidden! There are also 1.5 million street children.
•In Japan the total Christian population is only 1%, most of who live in cities. But in thousands of towns and fishing villages there is absolutely no Christian witness, and no missionaries to reach them. They are hidden!
•There are 500,000 towns and villages with no gospel witness in Europe.
•For every Christian in Thailand there are 999 Buddhists, most of who have never once heard of Christ.
•There are 160 million street children worldwide and 143 million orphans. Most are “hidden” from the priorities of many church planting ministries and missions.
•For every 10,000 villages in India 9,950 have no Christian community whatsoever. Furthermore, less than 100 of its 3,000 castes and tribes have any Christians in them.
•Despite the strong Christian movement in Latin America there are still many Hidden People. In the jungle lowlands there are at least 600 small primitive tribes with over 5 million. Many have yet to hear of Christ.
•*The almost one billion Muslims are concentrated in 44 countries and dispersed throughout 40 others. In the face of such diversity and with such numbers to reach there are less than 2000 evangelical missionaries working with them. Hidden!
Thousands of new missionaries should be specially trained and sent out for evangelism and discipleship among each of the 16,700 culture groupings where no churches exist!
The needs around us should always be seen in this perspective. Although we need missionaries on all six continents, not all six are equal either in resources, population or in present opportunities to know Christ.
To say that everyone is important and equal before God leads to an inescapable conclusion: those with no Christian witness culturally near to them, as well as geographically near, must have more of our concentrated efforts to reach them. For many Christians around the world these “Hidden People” must become our highest priority, or they will never be reached!