The Greatest Opportunity For The Unreached We Have Ever Seen!


Imagine for a moment a world where you could share the Good News of Jesus Christ with people that are from restricted-access countries. A world where you could walk down the street and meet people, who have never heard about Jesus or the fact that He died for their sins and rose again. The world I am referring to is not a fairy tale but the current South Africa that we live in.


Over the past centuries the world has seen people moving around from place to place in search for a better life, work or shelter. The last couple of decades, because of better access to transportation, the internet and other factors, the world has seen a sharp increase in what is called mass migration.


The word migration, according to the Cambridge Dictionary [1], means “a movement from one region to another and often back again”. This has never been as true as in the modern times that we live in.  Travel from one country or continent is easier. In recent years we have seen an increase in what is called labour migration.  The effects of labour migration can clearly be felt and seen in the rural areas of countries like Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho and parts of South Africa where homesteads are managed by mothers and grandmothers with no men in sight. With a little investigation, you can find out that the men have all gone to other regions and sometimes countries in search of jobs. While the effect on social and family life can be debated, the reality still remains, people are moving across borders in search of work and a better life.


An article by McAuliffe & Kitimbo stated that the number of migrants in South Africa is only increasing, largely due to the perceived developed economic structure of South Africa [2]. Which makes South Africa attractive to people around the world that find themselves in dire conditions. In 2017 it was estimated that around four million international immigrants migrated to South Africa. This was the most of the Southern African region.


From a Christian point of view in South Africa, the fact that people are migrating is of utmost importance to us. The question about relevancy is always a hot topic in the church world.  And today this question is again being posed to the Christian community as a whole.  Many of the still unreached people groups of the world are calling South Africa home, with an increasing number to follow, some scholars believe. Our ‘backyard’ so to speak has become attractive to those who have not in the past been able to hear the Gospel.  This is an amazing opportunity for us as believers in South Africa to reach out to those in desperate need of the Good News of Jesus Christ.


An unreached people group is defined by Joshua Project [3] as “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.”


Out of some of the most unreached people groups in difficult to engage areas like Asia, Middle East and Northern Africa that are estimated 97% unreached, South Africa is home to at least 10 of these unreached people groups.


While we are not undermining the need to send missionaries all around the world, we in South Africa can make an unprecedented impact on the nations that have come to us.   


With all of this in mind, what can I as an everyday Christian do? First and foremost, we need to realise that if you confess the name of Jesus as your Saviour, that you are a child of the utmost high God. You are equipped by Holy Spirit to be a witness. You are in other words not just an everyday person on the street. Secondly, be mindful of those around you. Notice the diversity and beauty of other cultures. Thirdly pray, every major revival has been birthed out of heartfelt prayer. Pray for the manifestation of Holy Spirit in and amongst the unreached.


If we truly want to answer the question about the relevancy of the church, we only need to look across the street, in our schools or communities and notice the harvest field of thousands of unreached people’s around us.


In the words of Keith Green, 1960’s gospel singer, “This generation of believers that you and me are a part of, we are responsible for this generation of souls, all over the world.”


Let us take up the challenge and be part of the solution to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the unreached in South Africa.


[1]                Definition of “migration” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press) https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/migration

[2]                Marie McAuliffe, Head of Migration Policy Research Division, International Organization for Migration; Adrian Kitimbo, Research Associate, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria. Jun 2018 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/heres-the-truth-about-african-migration/

[3]                1982 Lausanne Committee Chicago meeting, AD2000 & Beyond Movement and Joshua Project https://joshuaproject.net/help/definitions


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