CTBP Archive

These articles were cross-posted to Church Translating Bible Planters (ctbp.org).

Ethnologue, 20th Edition /

The 20th edition of the Ethnologue was released on the occasion of International Mother Language Day.

The Ethnologue has been documenting the world’s languages since 1951. This edition lists 7,099 living languages worldwide. Eleven languages that were listed as living in the previous edition were dropped and 13 are newly listed as living.

Also, the Ethnologue now adds new data for many languages: the written autonym (“self name”) that the speakers of the language give to the language itself; country-level international conventions to which the country is signatory and which affirm the language and culture rights of indigenous and minority peoples; and any revitalization efforts in language development.

Ethnologue

Bibleless Peoples Presentation /

Here is the outline of a “Bibleless Peoples” talk I gave to a group of national church planters. Many of these leaders work among or near people who do not have God’s word in a language that they understand. They were able to identify some of the Bibleless people groups on our list. They also got riled up when I asked what languages they should work in. Some were in favor of using national or state languages, for the sake of unity; some for tribal languages, for the sake of understanding.

  1. (Theology) What is the “seed” that we sow?
    • The seed is God’s word, the gospel of Jesus Christ: “The sower sows the word…” (Mk. 4:14)
    • Seed has all the potential for life, growth and multiplication
    • Look at “movement” in Acts
      • Movement is described as the growth of God’s word
      • Acts 6:7, 12:24, 13:49, 19:20, 28:31
    • What can a sower do without seed?
      • Many people and places have no “seed” available
      • The Bibleless are those without God’s word in a language that they understand
      • Who do you know without God’s word?
  2. (Linguistics) A look at languages
    • People use different languages for different places and purposes (multilingualism)
    • What languages do you use for home, market, school, church, news?
    • Each language is strong in it’s area (domain)
    • The gospel can move in any language, but which language is priority for the “sower”?
      • The language of homes (oikos), houses of peace, where churches are planted
      • It’s better seen as “home language” (mother-tongue), not “heart language”
      • Look for living (vital) languages, spoken between parents and children
  3. (Strategy) How to work among the Bibleless
    • Train in homes (if religious and home languages differ)
    • Houses of peace may speak local and trade languages well
    • Make small groups by language
    • Trade languages (languages of wider communication) may be enough for God’s word to grow
    • Test for understanding
      • Ask questions after teaching
      • Have people retell it in their own words
      • Does it spread between trainings?
      • Do they share at home in their language?
    • Use Bible stories, songs, pictures and dramas
      • Stories translate well
      • Stories give meaning to new words and phrases
    • Honor people who sing, pray and practice the gospel and testimony in their own language
    • Learn and speak the language, as it is the best way to encourage the spread of God’s word
    • Some groups will need the Bible translated
    • Make disciples according to the Scriptures
      • Do you give authority to God’s word in your own life and ministry?
      • Do you train from the Bible?
      • How does your own strategy compare with the Apostles’s teaching?
      • Do you aim for people to have faith in the gospel (not just obedience)?
      • When you leave a field, do you leave God’s word in the hearts of the people?
    • Our work isn’t done until there is a church that is growing in God’s word in a language that they understand (Acts 20:32, 2 Peter 1:15)
  4. Who are the Bibleless?
    • There are churchless and Bibleless groups hiding around us
    • Look at the list
      • These are the groups without any Scripture resources (not just a Bible translation)
      • Have you seen any? Is this language spoken at home?
      • Do you know any bilingual believers or churches among them?
      • Do you have churches near to any of these groups?
      • Inform your churches
      • Tell us if a group needs Scripture resources
    • The churchless and Bibleless will be hopeless until someone from outside (us) goes in with the “seed” of God’s word
    • Be sure to plant God’s word in hearts and homes because it will grow and multiply
Distant shot of waterfall framing a person standing at its base with arms aloft.
Photo by Rio Hodges
From Bumbler to Bubbling Evangelist /

I confess that I have not been interested in evangelism for some time. I’ve told and preached the good news when opportunities came, I just haven’t gone looking for them.

There was a time when I ran all over the place and effusively told others what Jesus had done for me. An old friend who knew me both then and now has reminded me to check my love. The words he used from Revelation 2 are now echoing in my thoughts and prayers, “I know your good works… but… you’ve left the love you had at first.”

I remember from where I’ve fallen, as Revelation 2 goes on to say. I remember what it was to hear the good news while I was doubled up in my dark heart. I remember as a trembling sinner opening up to Jesus and finding him precious. I had become suddenly unburdened and bright. I wept and leapt for joy. My favorite song was Martin Smith’s “The Happy Song”:

My heart is bursting Lord
To tell of all you’ve done
Of how you changed my life
And wiped away the past

I want to shout it out
From every rooftop sing
For now I know that
God is for me not against me!

He saved me like he said he would. I devoured his words and dished them out to others. I was gushing about him without thought of how to get the word out. That season of ministry altered the course of my life.


There’s a short sermon by Spurgeon on 1 Peter 2:7, “For you who believe, he is precious.” The preacher argued that those who think highly of Jesus speak highly of Jesus. This sermon also came to me this week, and graciously. I didn’t wince in guilt at my current lack of zeal but remembered how precious Jesus was. He had overwhelmed my natural reservations and awkwardness in the past. He had made a bumbler into a bubbling evangelist.

I love him for it. And for his gracious invitation to those who’ve forgotten their first love. “Remember,” he says, “repent, and do the works you did at first” (Rev. 2:5). Evangelism is a basic work of the Christian. But we don’t need to make evangelism interesting when we remember how precious Jesus is.

Spurgeon’s conclusion is below (I think “evangelist” is a better word here than his “missionary”). It’s provoking. If you’re lacking in evangelistic zeal, let it be an invitation, not to guilt, but to remember your precious Savior and recount to others what he’s done for you, however you can.

If Jesus is precious to you, you will not be able to keep your good news to yourself; you will be whispering it into your child’s ear; you will be telling it to your husband; you will be earnestly imparting it to your friend; without the charms of eloquence you will be more than eloquent; your heart will speak, and your eyes will flash as you talk of his sweet love.

Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor. Recollect that. You either try to spread abroad the kingdom of Christ, or else you do not love him at all. It cannot be that there is a high appreciation of Jesus and a totally silent tongue about him. Of course I do not mean by that, that those who use the pen are silent: they are not. And those who help others to use the tongue, or spread that which others have written, are doing their part well. But that man who says, “I believe in Jesus,” but does not think enough of Jesus ever to tell another about him, by mouth, or pen, or tract, is an impostor.

If thou knowest Christ, thou art as one that has found honey; thou wilt call others to taste of it; thou art like the lepers who found the food which the Syrians had cast away: thou wilt go to Samaria and tell the hungry crowd that thou hast found Jesus, and art anxious that they should find him too.

Be wise in your generation, and speak of him in fitting ways and at fitting times, and so in every place proclaim the fact that Jesus is most precious to your soul.

C.H. Spurgeon, “A Sermon and a Reminiscence,” from the March 1873 Sword and Trowel

“Kingdom Story” Update /

I updated “The Kingdom Story,” our Creation to Christ panorama, based on further study, usage and feedback. A volunteer team and I used it widely this month in village homes, churches, and at a youth leaders conference, so I had reason to record changes. The story is more internally consistent (as a stand-alone story) and is now under 500 words.

→ To “The Kingdom Story”

Illustrating “The Kingdom Story,” January 2017
Illustrating “The Kingdom Story,” January 2017

Changes:

  • Added “In the beginning” to mirror other time references in the middle and end of the story.
  • Changed instances of “made” to “created” to connect creation with new creation, however loosely. This change may not translate.
  • God’s promise (3rd paragraph) is now: “He promised to bless all peoples in one of their descendants” (from Gal. 3:8 and Gen. 12). The promise needs to summarize the covenants! I see Abraham’s and David’s covenant in this paragraph.
  • Added repentance “turn from sin and turn to God” to Jesus’ central kingdom announcement at story’s apex (Mark 1:15).
  • Added “up” to ascension. Such a small word barely conveys the lordship of Jesus. The ascension is a regular part of NT gospel preaching.
  • What word should we use for “baptize”? In past tellings, it’s been transliterated as is, or translated as “wash in water” or “immerse in water”. Now it’s a stronger phrase, “bury in water and raise up” to align with the picture of Jesus’ burial and resurrection in the story (see Rom. 6:4).
  • Concerning the church (6th paragraph), “faith… love… hope…” is now prominent, as the pattern of teaching of some of the epistles (see Col. 1:4–5, 1 Thess. 1:3 for starters).
  • Also added the word “church” itself with the phrase, “meeting together as churches”. As for it’s placement in the statement about “love,” see Heb. 10:25, 1 Cor. 13 with 14, Eph. 5, Col. 3.
  • Added reference to the Lord’s Supper as “eat together to remember Jesus”. It surely needs its own story, like many of these points, but the topic is as clear here as it is in the Acts phrase, “the breaking of bread”.
  • Added “in King Jesus” to final paragraph.

Go to “The Kingdom Story”

Partly cloudy sky at dusk with small streaks of lightning
Photo by Michael Long
How to Reflect on Your Work with Joy /

We reflect on our mission work at the turn of the year. How do we handle the mix of emotions we feel about our successes and failures? God commands us to have joy. But we tend to focus on our own power (or lack of it) rather than rejoice in God’s presence.

Jesus dealt with this when his disciples returned from their mission in Luke 10.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17–20, NIV)

More Power

The disciples were amazed at what happened while they were on their mission. They didn’t have power before. The disciples displayed authority in Jesus’ name, healed people, and silenced opposition. Jesus affirms the significance of their work by speaking of it in light of his greater defeat of Satan. Spiritual, eternal work happened.

Who wouldn’t desire to see God’s power like this? Prophets and kings had talked about it but never saw it (v. 24). The world craves it. Satan fell from heaven by going after it for himself (compare with Is. 14:12 and following). Out of all people, Jesus gave this experience to his ordinary students and made demons submit to them.

God has given his people power to work in the face of all kinds of evil. This power is a way that God reveals his kingdom to the world. The apostles were seeing the fulfillment of centuries of prophesies and promises. Jesus spoke to them personally, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!” (v. 23).

More Than Power

However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven (v. 20).

As amazing as God-given authority is, that “the spirits submit to you,” it’s not more worthy of attention than God’s power in salvation. Jesus isn’t calling his disciples to more power, but to something more than power.

Power over evil doesn’t mean that God’s people will never suffer and die. “Snakes and scorpions” were literal problems for the Israelites in the wilderness (see Deut. 8:15) but now represent “all the power of the enemy” to oppose the gospel. The real threat is spiritual death, eternal separation from God. Jesus says later, “[enemies] will put some of you to death… but not a hair of your head will perish” (Lk. 21:16, 18). Physical death doesn’t hinder God’s purposes or joy. His promises are not fully or finally fulfilled in this life, but “in heaven.”

God, the “Lord of heaven and earth” (v. 21), has called us by name. He’s secured our place in heaven. With him, our heavenly Father, we’re home. We’ll never be separated from him. This work is miraculous because the salvation of sinners is only possible with God. And when he does it, it’s sure. It’s been written. That is how God shows the permanence of a thing, in writing. This good news frees us to reflect on our work with joy.

God Commands His Joy

The one command we’re given in Luke 10:17–20 is “rejoice” in this salvation. How can a feeling like joy be commanded? With our own accomplishments in view, there’s no reliable way to command joy. Instead, keep God’s merciful, loyal love in view. What does a soul feel then? When we understand what it means for God to say to sinners, “you are my people,” we reply in joy, “you are my God” (Hos. 2:23).

His Joy in Our Work

Like the first disciples, you may be amazed at the authority you have and the good works you’ve done this year. And rightly so. This line of work is amazing.

In the last year, our group of believers saw people come to faith, start churches, and be equipped for ministry. Families moved to new continents, children were discipled and homes made hospitable for the kingdom’s sake. A disabled arm was healed and diseases were taken away. Sin was confessed and forgiven. People fought depression with hope. We learned languages and trained people in a dozen others to translate Scripture. We told the epic from creation to Christ many times and felt like we lived it.

Jesus tells us this work is more significant than we realize. All of it reflects an unseen spiritual work. Yet, think nothing of it. The works witness to someone greater (see Jn. 5:36, 10:25).

Jesus calls our attention to what’s eternally more valuable than any experience, power, success or skill that our eyes can see. It’s heaven itself: God’s presence. That’s where joy is (Ps. 16:11). He is the focal point of the kingdom.

His Joy Over Our Work

We’re in danger if we don’t rejoice in God when we reflect and report on our work. We’re no better than Satan when we give attention to the power of God over the presence of God. Satan was jealous of God’s power and was thrown from God’s presence swiftly and forever, “like lightning from heaven.” Likewise, Simon the sorcerer solicited the apostles for this when he said, “give me this power, too,” and was sternly rebuked (see Acts 8:18–24).

We imitate Satan when we boast as if we didn’t receive everything from God, when we’re jealous of what God’s given to others, and when we hold the blessings of the kingdom above the king himself. Jesus gave us his words in Luke 10:17–20 to help us resist Satan’s temptation.

His Joy in Our Failed Work

What about those of us who feel no joy when we reflect on the year’s work? These words are for us, too. Don’t you know that the work is God’s anyway, that the world is the Lord’s to save, that you’re saved not by what you’ve done but by his grace (Eph. 2:8; Tit. 3:5), that your greatest qualification for ministry is his mercy and this shuts Satan’s mouth (1 Tim. 1:16; Zech. 3:1–4), that your name’s written indelibly in heaven, and that his Spirit now draws you to look to Christ and not yourself?

It’s the Father’s pleasure to give us the kingdom (Lk. 12:32). He’s pleased to reveal himself, not to “the wise and learned,” but to ordinary disciples (v. 21). Our successes and our failures have no effect on our place in heaven or status as God’s children. Neither are stronger than our Savior. No matter what, we belong to him and will enjoy him forever.

As we reflect on the year, we should include sufferings, weaknesses, and failures. Another way that God reveals his kingdom to the world is by upholding us in them with joy. We can have this joy because it’s not based on our work but on God’s merciful, loyal love in the salvation of sinners. He’ll bring us safely home, where there’ll be no sin, suffering or death. So pray in confidence, “restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Ps. 51:12).

His Joy in the Work of Our Disciples

Many missionaries I know teach about missions from the first half of Luke 10. They do so to answer a good question: what does God’s word say about entering new places for the kingdom? Look for people or “houses of peace” that God has prepared.

It’s right to learn from the way that Jesus sent out his disciples in verses 1–11. But it’s not right to stop there. We also learn from Jesus in verses 17–20 how to follow-up with those we’ve sent. We welcome them back, listen to their reports, and affirm the significance of their work. Then, we remind them to rejoice, not in their work, but in God’s salvation.

Reflect on Your Work with Joy

So write up a report of your work. Include the successes and failures, and the feelings you have about them. Bring them to Christ. Then listen to his words to you from Luke 10:20. May God’s Spirit turn our eyes away from our work to Christ’s and meet the new year with joyful news. The gospel is always good for believers, especially during times of reflection and rest.

Whatever we’ve accomplished this year, and however we feel about it, Jesus knows we need this reminder: the greatest work of all is what God has done to save us. We’re his people, and he’s our God forever. This good news frees us to reflect on our work with joy.

Panorama of children't picture book covers
Creation to Christmas: Big Picture Picture Books /

At CTBP we know you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the little ones in your life. Something simple yet significant. And you want our recommendation. Well…

Why not give them the Creation and Consummation of the cosmos in a picture book? What would better satisfy your niece or nephew than the biblical panorama of salvation history to read in one sitting? An epic present. Really.

The idea of the Bible as one epic story is catching on with authors, illustrators and publishers. Jesus started the idea (Luke 24:27, 44–49). Missionaries have taken to crafting “Creation to Christ” (C2C) stories to cross cultures. I tell it as the Kingdom Story. And now there are picture books to give you more creative ways to convey the good news to your children. Make this year’s gift truly epic by doing it together: reading, believing and living out the story of the Bible.

Below are three winners and two honorable mentions in the category of… uh… big picture picture books.

Winners

Honorable Mentions

Two other books are too long for one sitting but present the Bible clearly and creatively as one story.


Update

Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark made a board book to go along with The Biggest Story, The Biggest Story ABC.

Theology and Missiology: Two Brothers Who Don’t Talk /

Andy McTazi recast the parable of the Prodigal Son for all self-respecting missionaries and theologians. I cheer when I hear someone bring together theology and missiology like this:

There are two brothers who don’t talk to each other very much. Let’s call the older brother Theology, and the younger brother… Missiology.

… It’s not so much that they are constantly arguing; more that they move in different circles and pretend each other don’t exist.

The younger is adventurous.… The older… is conservative.… The father loves both [and] invites both to his parties.…

Both brothers have their sins. Both also have their gift. But they need each other. Oh for churches and movements that are strong in both!

Read “Two Brothers” at To Win Some.

Google Earth globe of the eastern hemisphere with pins showing concentrations of churchless, Bibleless peoples
Churchless, Bibleless, Hopeless /

Missionaries have access to big data now. Researchers maintain databases on locations of ethnic and language groups (ethnolinguistic groups), the number of Christians and churches among them, and Scripture resources available to them. One way churches and mission organizations use research is to uncover unreached peoples and places and direct workers there.

I’m not too big on big data in missions. The problem with it isn’t that we think too big, though I sometimes think of King David’s confession here, “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me” (Ps. 131:1). The problem is that we can’t think big enough. I’ve had missiologists teach me, “God can’t lead you with information you don’t have.” We know he can (see Acts 16:6–10).

Yet God sovereignly leads researchers, too. For the sake of the gospel, it matters that we know about unreached and unengaged peoples and places, “where Christ is not known,” “in the regions beyond” (Rom. 15:20, 1 Cor. 10:16). For a balanced take on missions research, see J.D. Payne’s recent article, “God’s Mission Is Not Limited by Our Ignorance”.

Where There Are “No Christians, No Scripture, No Missionaries”

A pair of researchers, Ted Bergman and Bill Morrison, tried to answer the question: Of the many people groups that need attention, which are the highest priority? They culled a list from the major databases according to three critera, groups which have:

  1. No Christians (and therefore, no churches)
  2. No Scripture
  3. No missionaries with the intent of bringing the gospel to them

The result was a list of 112 people groups, which they published in 2010 and 2011 as “No Christians, No Scripture, No Missionaries: Priority People Groups.”1

While there are opportunities for missionaries among people groups which have access to the gospel but remain functionally churchless and Bibleless, for the 112 peoples on this list, there will be no access to the gospel until an outsider goes in. These are the churchless, Bibleless and hopeless.

May there be hope for these people as it’s written:

Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand. (Is. 52:15 and Rom. 15:21)


The research in “No Christians, No Scripture, No Missionaries” needs an update. People groups are moving targets. Why look at it now? Firstly, five years on, most of the groups remain without churches, Scripture, or gospel workers. Secondly, I hope to point potential workers to concentrations of these groups. Thirdly, we can learn from the search criteria the original researchers used as we determine which people groups need priority attention. Let’s look at the criteria first.

Priority Criteria

What are priorities in missions? It’s important that we ask the right questions. Bergman and Morrison’s first criterion of a priority group was lack of Scripture in any form. They grouped the results by primary language. They were asking, how many languages will missionaries have to learn in order to reach the groups which have no Christians or Scripture?

Some unreached, unengaged people groups share a language. In China, for example, four speak Ersu first: the Ersu, Luzu, Manyak, and Menia. One witness could communicate with speakers from all four groups. This emphasis on primary language puts priority on the verbal communication of God’s Word. The responsibility of Christian missionaries to preach the gospel is “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:1–3).

One criterion the researchers did not use was population above a certain number. It’s become common practice in missions research to prioritize large groups (100,000 in population and above) over small groups (under 10,000). But Bergman and Morrison took their cues from Scripture where they did not see this distinction.

Another criterion for a group to make the list was that it be unreached. The researchers defined “reached” as a group which had a growing church with access to the Bible. They put this forward as a better definition than what’s in use today, the arbitrary threshold of two percent evangelical Christian.

For a group to be counted as “reached” with the gospel, the absolute minimum is that there be a church — not just any church, but a growing body with access to the Bible in a language they understand well.2

The researchers judged that growing churches, understandable Scriptures, and gospel workers are all necessary elements for kingdom work to go forward among a people group. The absence of any one of these elements is enough to warrant the attention of missionaries. The absence of all three warrants priority attention.

Hotspots of Hopelessness

The research showed concentrations of priority people groups in China, Nepal and Iran. I plotted the groups on a map with location data from Joshua Project. The map reveals broader clusters in Saharan Africa, the Caucasus and Zagros Mountains of Central Asia, and across the Himalayas. These “hotspots” of hopelessness span political boundaries and center on regions of extreme terrain.

These people live in places that remain difficult to access and need the concerted efforts of churches and generations of workers. These are not people who’ve yet been caught in the wide net of a fishing missionary, though missionaries labor through hundreds of trade languages and thousands of Asian towns. The hotspots are blindspots to us on the ground.

Even still, more missionaries should learn the trade languages of these areas of concentration, such as Nepali, Central Tibetan, Mandarin Chinese or Persian. Doing so would put us in a better position to engage the unengaged. It would put us in a position to help the closest churches equip and send missionaries of their own.

Moving Target

Our people group categories do not fully represent reality or the intention of Scripture. People can share affinities in many ways besides ethnicity or language. And people don’t stay still but change throughout their lives and from generation to generation. Furthermore, the “all nations” (panta ta ethne) target of the Great Commission means more than just the 11,000 or so ethnolinguistic groups. It means what it meant to those Jewish disciples who first beheld their triumphant Lord: the gospel is good not just for you, but for everyone everywhere.

By focusing on certain people groups, we overlook the world at our doorstep, people who are also functionally churchless and Bibleless and without hope. On the other hand, beyond our doors and beyond the doors of any known church or believer, there are some people who will not be reached until someone single-mindedly goes after them. Who, with Jesus, will “leave the ninety-nine,” “not greet anyone on the road,” “go on to the next towns,” “go into all the world,” and “go after the lost one until he finds it” (Lk. 15:4; 10:4; Mk. 1:38; 16:15).

So we keep the categories and criteria for now, and update our lists until we reach each known people and see if there are still any “regions beyond.” To the best of my knowledge this list represents genuine and priority needs today. I work near a concentration of these groups and most remain unreached and unengaged. I know other workers who have begun to engage a few of the groups and they need help.

Here are updates to the Bergman and Morrison list that I’ve found so far:

  • Pahlavani of Afghanistan seems to be extinct now.
  • Panang of China (Banag) is no longer listed as a separate language but a dialect of Amdo Tibetan. One of the Bonan groups (Tu) is now classified as it’s own language group.
  • Chaudangsi and Darmiya of India are now threatened languages (and not listed as primary languages of any group on Joshua Project). The statuses of Kurmukar, Shumcho and Sunam are unclear.
  • Baraamu of Nepal (Baram) is nearly extinct. Chhulung and Dumi are shifting and no longer vital languages. Northern Ghale, Jerung, Northern Lorung (Lohorung), Lumba-Yakkha and Puma are threatened. Southern Lorung is now a distinct language, Southern Yamphu. Yamphe seems to be an alternate name of Yamphu. Nubri is now said to be spoken by 2 people groups. The statuses of Tichurong and Thudam are unclear.
  • The statuses of the Dehwari, Lasi and Waneci of Pakistan are unclear.
  • The language code for Tunisian Sign Language has been corrected to ‘tse’ (not ‘thm’).

Priority People Groups (2011)

See the original article (2010), the 2011 update and the updated list by Ted Bergman and Bill Morrison for details of the language groups, including languages codes, populations and statuses from the major databases.

I simplified the original list below, showing only the language groups with their hub countries and linked to their respective pages on Joshua Project. I plotted the groups on an interactive map with location data from Joshua Project, included below for you to explore. You can see concentrations of groups that follow geographical features and cross political boundaries, such as in the Himalayas.

Let’s explore avenues of access and go as close as we can to the vicinities and languages of these priority peoples. Let’s mobilize believers and churches in neighboring areas to go closer still. Let’s pray for hope for the churchless, Bibleless, hopeless.

Language Hub Country
Pashayi, Northeast Afghanistan
Pashayi, Northwest Afghanistan
Gawar-Bati Afghanistan
Grangali Afghanistan
Pahlavani Afghanistan
Tregami Afghanistan
Kamviri Afghanistan
Chenoua Algeria
Korandje Algeria
Kryts Azerbaijan
Dakpakha Bhutan
Gongduk Bhutan
Lhokpu Bhutan
Lakha Bhutan
Nyenkha Bhutan
Barein Ch‌ad
Daju, Dar Sila Ch‌ad
Fongoro Ch‌ad
Kibet Ch‌ad
Sinyar Ch‌ad
Ainu China
Bugan China
Bunu, Wunai China
Cao Miao China
E China
Ersu (4 groups) China
Miao, Southern Mashan China
Miao, Southwestern Huishui China
Miao, Luopohe (2 groups) China
Miao, Northern Mashan China
Hu China
Tsat China
Shangzhai/sTodsde China
Guanyinqiao/Lavrung (2 groups) China
Kemiehua China
Kon Keu China
Man Met China
Namuyi China
Panang China
Bonan (3 groups) China
Bolyu China
Shixing China
U China
Wutunhua China
Ache China
Bhunjia India
Chaudangsi India
Darmiya India
Kurmukar India
Shumcho India
Sunam India
Kumbewaha Indonesia
Bashkardi Iran
Fars, Northwestern Iran
Gazi Iran
Khunsari Iran
Karingani Iran
Khalaj, Turkic Iran
Lari Iran
Natanzi Iran
Nayini Iran
Parsi-Dari Iran
Sivandi Iran
Soi Iran
Takestani Iran
Bit Laos
Phong-Kniang Laos
Tai Pao Laos
Kuan Laos
Baraamu Nepal
Chhulung Nepal
Dumi Nepal
Ghale, Northern Nepal
Jerung Nepal
Kyerung Nepal
Nubri Nepal
Lorung, Northern Nepal
Lorung, Southern Nepal
Lumba-Yakkha Nepal
Puma Nepal
Tichurong Nepal
Thudam Nepal
Tsum Nepal
Yamphu Nepal
Yamphe Nepal
Kumzari Oman
Dehwari Pakistan
Lasi Pakistan
Waneci Pakistan
Dido Russia
Ghodoberi Russia
Khvarshi Russia
Karata Russia
Bagvalal Russia
Tindi Russia
Dabarre Somalia
Garre Somalia
Jiiddu Somalia
Tunni Somalia
Dair Sudan
Ko Sudan
Kadaru Sudan
Tese Sudan
Midob Sudan
Warnang Sudan
Aheu Thailand
Balkan Gagauz Turkish Turkey
Algerian Sign Language Algeria
Persian Sign Language Iran
Mozambican Sign Language Mozambique
Saudi Arabian Sign Language Saudi Arabia
Tunisian Sign Language Tunisia

  1. Ted Bergman and Bill Morrison, “No Christians, No Scripture, No Missionaries: Priority People Groups,” published in 2010 and updated in 2011. See the 2011 article and the list. ↩︎

  2. Bergman and Morrison. ↩︎

“A Life Transformed by God’s Word”: John Piper on William Tyndale /

On October 6, 1536, William Tyndale was executed for translating the Bible from the original languages into modern English. He was accused of “always singing a single note”: God’s Word in the vernacular. For that he was exiled, betrayed, strangled and burned. Many of Tyndale’s words and phrases remain in use today, 480 years later. This is the legacy of your English Bible.

I was reminded of Tyndale this week. So I remembered a message I heard John Piper give about him when I was preparing to go abroad for the sake of God’s Word. Piper presented Tyndale’s life as worthy of imitation, in taking seriously the call to study God’s Word and to translate it. He challenged thousands of young adults to be involved in Bible translation. I share with you what was challenging and confirming to me.

“William Tyndale: A Life Transformed By God’s Word”
Message by John Piper, May 26, 2008, New Attitude Conference, Louisville, KY

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Key Terms and Concepts for Missions /

When I moved abroad I expected to learn a new language to speak with my neighbors. I didn’t come with an expectation to learn a new way to speak with fellow workers. But conversations with co-workers can be just as confusing as conversations in a new language. They both can be noise to my ears and not “comprehensible input.”

Some of the rub comes from professional jargon and business concepts that creep into our work (“comprehensible input” is linguistic jargon, by the way). These new words and ideas are needlessly difficult because so much of our work is already defined in Scripture. But therein is a more basic problem. We have a shared vocabulary of biblical terms and concepts, but we use them differently. And the preaching and teaching of these words is central to our task.

The International Mission Board (IMB) has recognized the need for its workers to share a vocabulary of key terms and concepts for missions. The organization just published a document of these definitions with a stated purpose:

The purpose of this document is to provide biblically faithful and denominationally loyal definitions for terms and concepts that profoundly affect who we are, where we go, what we do, and how we train. We want a biblical understanding of these terms and concepts to be clearly articulated and consistently understood across the IMB so that we can wisely apply God’s Word in all of our work together.

The document defines these ten words and ideas for missions: gospel, evangelism, conversion, disciple, disciple making, calling, missionary, missionary team, unreached peoples and places, and church.

Below are brief versions of the definitions in the IMB document (in total, 500 words). They are a great place to start. For the full definitions and Scripture references, see www.imb.org/beliefs-key-terms/.

Key Terms

The Gospel
is the good news that the only true God, the just and gracious Creator of the universe, has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women and has sent his Son, God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin through his substitutionary death on the cross and to show his power over sin and death through his resurrection from the grave so that everyone who turns from their sin and themselves and trusts in Jesus alone as Savior and Lord will be reconciled to God forever.
Evangelism
is the proclamation of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit with the aim of persuading people to repent and believe in Christ.
Conversion
is the divinely enabled personal response of individuals to the gospel in which they turn from their sin and themselves and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Disciples
are followers of Christ. They have turned from their sin, trusted in Jesus as their Savior, have died to themselves and surrendered their lives to him as Lord. Christ lives in them, resulting in six primary marks of a disciple: transformed heart, mind, affections, will, relationships, and purpose.
Disciple Making
is the Christ-commanded, Spirit-empowered duty of every disciple of Jesus to evangelize unbelievers, baptize believers, teach them the Word of Christ and train them to obey Christ as members of his church who make disciples on mission to all nations.
Calling
Call to salvation: The gracious act of God by which he draws people to become disciples of Jesus and members of his church.
Call to mission: Everyone who responds to God’s call as a disciple of Jesus receives Christ’s command to make disciples of Jesus.
Call to station: Christ calls disciples to specific stations in and through which they exalt him on mission: family, singleness, church membership.
Call to service: God directs disciples to make disciples in a certain way, at a certain time, among a certain people, in a certain location or through a certain vocation.
A Missionary
is a disciple of Jesus set apart by the Holy Spirit, sent out from the church and affirmed by the mission organization to cross geographical, cultural and/or linguistic barriers as part of a missionary team focused on making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached peoples and places.
A Missionary Team
is an identifiable group of disciples who meet together regularly, care for each other selflessly and partner with one another intentionally to make disciples and multiply churches among particular unreached peoples and/or places.
Unreached Peoples and Places
are those among whom Christ is largely unknown and the church is relatively insufficient to make Christ known in its broader population without outside help.
A Church
is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by his laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.