Nick Mauer, Coordinator of Outreach & Evangelism
The rain was coming down like a waterfall on his head as he stumbled past the low-lying bushes lining the roadway. His body trembled beneath his drenched clothes, and his muscles ached from the strain of walking mountain roads since dawn. Mud caked his feet and legs, and clung to his sandals at each step. Each car, bus, or moto that passed launched a wave of water to further saturate him. Though the sun was about to set, he was still ten kilometers from his destination. Only one thing in his whole world was dry: a small book, wrapped in several layers of plastic and tape, tucked under his arm.
Two hours later, Lo-Shem was standing at a small doorway. He rapped on it a few times and was ushered into a safe refuge from the driving wind and rain. Seventeen people were gathered in the dimly-lit room, each of them having braved the same elements in order to come, each having the same wet clothes, the same mud-caked legs, and the same dry book carefully wrapped in plastic.
After some brief fellowship and a warm beverage to ward off the cold, each unwrapped his or her book, and thumbed through the pages to a section near the middle. Lo-Shem began to read: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good news.” His eyes were serious as they moved across the room, fixing successively upon each of the seventeen others. “Brothers,” he said, “we must do this. We have good news, and we must take it even to the mountains. Most of our people have never heard of Him.”
Lo-Shem lives in a UPG—an Unreached People Group. That means that, in his people group, there are no more than (and probably fewer than) two real Christians for every 100 people. In a village of 1,000, there might be 20 believers, but probably not.
The term people group is defined in different ways, but one helpful definition that is commonly used is this: “For evangelization purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.” We know that, apart from the Holy Spirit’s work, the Gospel always encounters the obstacle of human blindness (2 Cor 4:3-4), but this definition focuses on the cultural barriers that often hinder expansion of a church movement from people of one ethnicity or cultural background to another.
When it comes to unreached people groups, JoshuaProject reports that there are 6,991 of them. That’s almost seven thousand groups with no more than 2% evangelical Christian presence. The total population in unreached people groups worldwide currently stands at 3,158,203,000. Over three billion people. And in many of those groups, the Christian presence is so low that people could live and die without ever meeting anyone who knows Jesus.
How many people are we really talking about here? Let me give you a visual: Legos. You had some as a kid, right? Of course you did. Now picture the little Lego figures—some of them just had a simple smile; others looked like pirates, knights, or ninjas. Okay, now imagine 3.1 billion of them…all unique. Each with a personality. Each interconnected with thousands of others through family connections and friendships. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to visualize 3.1 billion of anything in your head. How much space would those Lego figures occupy? Let’s take just their heads for instance—forget their bodies for right now. A cubic foot of space can hold about 28,300 Lego minifigure heads. That means it would take about 111,597 cubic feet to hold one Lego head for every person in the world. Picture 300 dump trucks overflowing with these Lego heads. The line of trucks would be over 1.5 miles long. That’s how many people we’re talking about.
And that’s why Lo-Shem plods, week after week, through the mud, rain, and cold. Because he knows his people have never heard—and unless he tells them, they never will. He knows that God accomplishes His sovereign will, and He uses means to do it. Lo-Shem longs to be the means of spreading God’s eternal, matchless glory to his own people.
Who Is Lo-Shem?
So, who is Lo-Shem? What continent does he live on? To what people group does he belong? Lo-Shem’s name means “No-name” in Hebrew: he is "the unnamed one." But in reality, he is not really “one” at all. He represents a multitude of courageous people who know Jesus, but live in a people group where He is almost unknown. Lo-Shem, the Unnamed One, is the missionary from an unreached people group who is striving to reach his own people with the Gospel.
The Unnamed One is unconcerned about the fame of his name. Instead, he is consumed with the fame of Jesus’ Name.
You don’t know his name. But God does.
 1982 Lausanne Committee Chicago meeting, as quoted on www.joshuaproject.net/help/definitions.
The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.