In a 2010 paper written for the Cape Town 2010 Congress of the Lausanne Movement, S. Kent Parks and John Scott deliver an impassioned plea for the “Forgotten Fourth” — the almost 2 billion people without access to the gospel.
Note: although the statistics cited in the quote above are from nine years ago, the situation has not changed much in 2019. According to JoshuaProject.net, 29% of the world’s population (an estimated 2.2 billion people) have had “virtually no exposure” to the gospel. 41.6% of the world’s population is part of an unreached people group, defined as a) less than 2% Christ-followers and b) less than 5% Professing Christians).
Parks and Scott call this 29% without exposure to the gospel “The Forgotten Fourth.”
Parks and Scott go on to identify at least 15 challenges the church faces that explains why the task of reaching the unreached appears to not have made a lot of progress while the world as a whole has changed dramatically.
They then make recommendations for a way forward through the challenges, including obedience-based discipleship and an urgency born out of our love for Jesus. They describe lessons that have been learned, consisting of “new approaches to ministry among least-reached peoples (that) are counterintuitive and defy conventional missiological wisdom,” citing examples from work among unreached peoples in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, and Turkey.
Parks’ and Scott’s paper is well worth the read, and I would urge you to digest it carefully, allowing the Lord to spark a passion for the unreached in your heart as you read!