The Great Imbalance Of Global Missions

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The great imbalance of missions is the fact that most missionaries go to or are sent to reached areas of the earth—regions where the Church already exists and the name of Jesus is known. On the flipside, there are very few missionaries working among the remaining unreached people groups within the 10/40 Window, home to over 2 billion who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.

Not to downplay certain missionaries or ministries. It’s just that we cannot forget those who are still waiting for the gospel to get to them in the 21st century. That’s our passion at Within Reach Global.

Here is some great graphs and info on The Great Imbalance. We pray that it inspires you to pray for unreached and unengaged people groups, and missionaries who are working among them.


Looking at “The Globe at a Glance,” (below) you can readily see that the bulk of the individuals who live within unreached groups (orange) are within the Muslim, Tribal, Hindu, and Buddhist blocs. We need to continue to send well-trained and insightful missionaries to these challenging peoples. There have been some very encouraging people movements within a limited number of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim groups. These three blocs are often seen as the most resistant, but we are learning that when a people seems “resistant” it may only mean our approach has been defective. Half of those living within unreached peoples are in the Muslim bloc, which is a bloc that has very favorable attitudes toward Jesus Christ.

Only an estimated 10,000 of the global foreign mission force[end 1. The global foreign mission force includes all kinds of Christians (Protestants, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, etc).] are working within the 10,000 unreached groups, while 41 times that number of foreign missionaries continue to work within people groups already reached.

What an imbalance!

Even if you include the foreign missionaries working with Christians within the entire major cultural blocs, reached and unreached (see chart below), it is still a glaring fact that most foreign missionaries work within peoples which are pre- dominantly Christian.

Patrick Johnstone analyzed the data in Operation World ’93 to approximate distribution of the Protestant Mission Force.[end 2. The graphs for the Protestant Mission Force were generated from data derived from Appendix 3, Protestant Missionary Force, found in the 1993 edition of Operation World. The country figures were analyzed based on Patrick Johnstone’s extensive knowledge of mission work around the world. The separation of the cross-cultural work force into the different religious blocs was a preliminary analysis done specifically for the Perspectives Reader. Missionaries in church development ministries within non-Christian peoples are not included in the pioneer categories. Our thanks to Patrick Johnstone and his assistant Jason Mandryk for their willing hearts and expedient labor.]

While his is a more positive picture than we have ever seen before, it still shows a great imbalance in that only 26 percent of the “Protestant” mission effort is going to the two-thirds of the world that is predominantly non-Christian. It will take the best efforts of the best the Church has to offer if we are to complete the task of frontier mission anytime soon.

After nearly 2000 years, 10,000 unimax peoples encompassing 2 billion people still live beyond the reach of any local church.

Charts Master

This material is extracted from the third edition of the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Reader: Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1999 and the Mission Frontiers June 2000 edition. © 2000


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What Is The 10/40Window?

Great statistics and information on the 10/40 Window here.

The 10/40 Window is located from 10 degrees south to 40 degrees north of the equator. It’s the region stretching from northern Africa, through the Middle East and Central Asia, into Southeast Asia.

Nearly 4 billion people live here, including 90% of the world’s poorest of the poor. More than 1.5 billion of these people have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. The seat of every major non-Christian religion—Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Animism, atheism, and Sikhism—is headquartered in the 10/40 Window.

If that’s not enough for you, check out these facts:

  • 2/3 of the world’s population—that’s 4 billion people—live in the 10/40 Window.
  • 95% of these 4 billion people are unevangelized.
  • 87% are the poorest of the poor, living on an annual average of $250 per family.
  • In many of the 10/40 Window nations, the Christian gospel is illegal, and belief in Jesus will result in imprisonment or death.
  • Nearly 50 countries in the 10/40 Window still heavily persecute Christians.
  • Child prostitution and child slavery run rampant in many 10/40 Window nations.
  • Horrific abuse of women and children remains unchecked, including an epidemic of pedophilia.
  • A majority of the world’s terrorist organizations and Jihad training hubs are based in the 10/40 Window.

Although the needs are desperate, only a few pennies out of every $100 spent on missions globally goes to the 10/40 Window. That’s less than 1% of all missions money designated to bring the gospel to roughly 70% of the world’s population.

These realities are what drive us to bring the need for partnership in the 10/40 Window to the forefront of the mission conversation. Together, we can truly make a difference.

For more on the 10/40 Window, check out The Traveling Team’s collection of statistics.

Photo credit: The Seasoned Explorer

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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