Imagine a ceramic map of India hanging on the wall. Suddenly it falls and shatters. Which gives a truer picture, the whole map divided neatly into states, or the shattered map scattered across the floor? In the biblical sense, the shattered map is more accurate: the country of India has some 3,000 tribes, castes and dialects (as estimated by the Institute of Hindu Studies) all quite separated from each other like pieces of a shattered map. Article From 1987
(That is difficult for an American to imagine. Try to imagine living surrounded by Souix and Navaho nations, each speaking only their own language. Now imagine planting the church in each: to plant a church effectively you must “become” a native, which can take 10 years per group. \ In India, traveling 100 miles brings you to a new language group! There are similar problems all over the world.)
Is the church planted in India? The question must be asked: which India? There are some 3000 tribes and peoples in India, as separate as the pieces of a shattered map. Some pieces of the map may be marked with a cross: about 26 distinct groups have a viable church among them. Some tribes are 97% Christian! But these tribes can’t easily reach the other 2974 language groups walled off by barriers of language and customs. It would take a special, long-term mission effort to learn their language with as much difficulty (or more) as any foreign mission team.
When Jesus said, “Make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19), he chose the Greek word ethne, meaning “peoples” or “ethnic groups”. He wants the church planted among all tribes, tongues, and peoples not just in every country. The question then arises…
How are we doing?
The explosive power of the gospel has erupted in nearly 7000 people groups with phenomenal results. But to finish the job disciples from all peoples must be made. It is estimated that some 17,000 tribes, nations, peoples and tongues remain to be reached-needing a church-planting team to live among them, learn their language and share heart-to-heart. Mission experts are now tracking down every unreached tribe, tongue, people, and nation on earth, and developing plans to reach them. The church is ideally positioned in strength all around the world; many agencies believe the missionary task could be finished by the year 2000.
What does it mean to “adopt” an unreached people group?
It means that a group of churches, or a group within a church, takes on the challenge to reach an unreached group. The churches work through their chosen mission agency, providing informed, concerned, dedicated prayer and support.
It does not mean giving up current mission support, but taking on a new, more intimate commitment. The supported mission team becomes part of the church family, sending back high-quality, detailed prayer information. The adopting churches come to know their unreached group intimately, allowing them into their hearts and into the lifeblood of their daily prayers.
It means staying with the task for however long it takes to establish a small, growing church which can begin evangelizing its own people.
It means the joy and excitement of being part. of a worldwide cooperative effort involving thousands of churches and hundreds of mission agencies to finish the job we were given by Jesus Himself by each taking a small, bite-sized piece of the task.
Excerpt from The ADOPT-A-PEOPLE Concept “A Church For Every People By the Year 2000” January 1987 Mission Frontiers Magazine