While living in a remote village among the Chayahuita Indians in the Amazon jungle in 2003, a well respected mentor of mine named Paul Johnson gave me a simple answer to a burning question: “I see the need, now how do I serve?” Discerning my gifts, his immediate answer was “We NEED researchers”. Okay, the answer made perfect sense to me in theory, but turning that theory into reality would require years of follow-through, punctuated by far more times of discouragement than affirmation. I am certainly no more spiritual than any other Christ-follower. But only by trusting God with the vision cast in that small jungle village, and obediently seeking Him through it, would God ever enable me to be effective in this way. And so He led me to serve with Etnopedia, the most comprehensive missions research effort anywhere in the world, a ministry that is actively connecting missionaries with people groups with still have no access to the gospel.
I don’t mean to brag; seriously, nearly anyone can do what we do at Etnopedia. The reality is that few care to do it; many others have given up in the face of discouragement along the way. The one thing you are guaranteed of when seeking to be effective for God is discouragement (2 Thessalonians 3:13, Galatians 6:9, Hebrews 12:3), and it generally comes by the truckload. If today you are asking yourself, “what is God’s purpose for me in the Great Commission?”, remember one thing. Shockingly, of all Christian ministry around the world, less than 2% of Christian resources (people, money, etc.) go towards reaching unreached people groups (entire ethnic groups with no access to the gospel due to language, culture, geography, etc.). As Christians we are all called to serve in some way (1 Peter 2:9 ), and there are many ways to do so (Romans 12:4-5). But when it comes to the Great Commission, we need more people, broken and burdened for the unreached nations to step up and serve in accordance with their gifts.
Now what does this have to do with Nepal? Well, at Etnopedia we investigate unreached ethnic groups around the globe. Outside of Latin America, we focus on five priority countries: India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal. Within these political boundaries exist literally thousands of ethnic nations, most of whom have no access to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. After months of intense focus and, needless to say, waves of spiritual warfare, I recently completed the most complete list of Nepal’s ethnic people groups found anywhere (see: Nepal’s Complete Ethnic People). If you happen to be a “Nepal-nut” and know of more Nepalese ethnic groups, please let me know. And guess what, if you’re part of a church that wants to send a missionary to an unreached people group, this list is completely free for you to use. We believe that not only should the gospel be freely given, but so should the resources to help missionaries do their work.
The task of making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20) requires prayer backed by action, generally in the form of hard, unrewarding work. And it requires planning (Luke 14:25-33). People must be sent (Romans 10:14). But to where, and to whom must they be sent? How do we avoid duplicating our missionary efforts? How do we prioritize in light of ~ seemingly ~ limited resources (of course, God’s resources are limited only by our own unwillingness)? Etnopedia serves to help answer these great questions. Among other things, the enemy uses a strategy of confusion to discourage us from being effective. When it comes to taking the gospel to the thousands of people groups around the world perishing without Christ, we must be intentional and strategic. The sheer number of languages and ethnic groups that we do not yet know about can be overwhelming. Yet, today, we have many tools at our disposal, including the Internet. Though I have not yet been to Nepal, the Internet furnished me with hundreds of free documents, mainly secular (doctoral dissertations, NGO reports, etc.), pertaining to specific regions of the country, or to individual ethnic groups. Aside from having to educate myself on Nepal’s history and caste system (which is quite complex), the bulk of the work to compile a people list was a process of tedious scouring, reading, and putting pieces together – ethnic people research is like trying to assemble a big puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Putting this list together wasn’t easy, but nor did it require any special abilities aside from having faith to know that it is right now serving Christian missionary movements in a strategic way, and will for years to come.
How can you help us? As you look at all the red (empty) links on this people list, you’ll see that we have great need of people willing to take time to research individual people groups to create basic profiles. We also need people who can translate these and other profiles into languages such as Spanish, French, Chinese and Korean. We need financial partners to help us continue this work. Please consider making a donation, or becoming a monthly investor in our ministry. For more information, please contact me at email@example.com. And as far as research in the Amazon region goes, there’s more to come so please stay tuned. Blessings in Christ, Drake