SAN FRANCISCO -- Linda Bergquist is a California Southern Baptist Convention church planting catalyst working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works with new English-speaking churches, including Anglo and multi-ethnic congregations and second-generation churches, for three associations (Central Coast, CostaMeda and San Francisco-Peninsula).
A new assignment includes Chinese, South Asian and Middle-Eastern work in the greater Bay Area. Some of Linda’s assignment is with unreached people groups (UPGs) -- a group is unreached when the number of evangelical Christians is less than 2 percent of its population. Today there are 6,430 unreached people groups around the world.
Where do UPGs live? It will be a surprise to some that several large, very unreached people groups live in the United States, including the Bay Area. They represent various regions of the world such as China, India and the Middle-East. They are adherents of world religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Jainism.
It is not certain which are the largest UPGs in the Bay Area, but there are some large groups, mostly in Santa Clara, Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Contra Costa counties. There are more UPGs than there are paid missionaries or church planting catalysts to work among them. It will take “ordinary” Christians who are willing to pray and work in extraordinary ways to give people from every nation, tribe and language access to the gospel.
Two Southern Baptist leaders have written books Linda finds useful for engaging local church members in planting churches from a global perspective. One is JD Payne’s Stranger Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission, which explores the evangelistic possibilities inherent in globalization. It encourages the Church in the West to pay attention to shifts taking place today, and to respond to a new diaspora with heartfelt urgency.
The second book is Bob Robert’s Bold as Love. Written so almost anyone can understand and respond, this book points the way for ordinary Christians to practice the extraordinary love of Christ among their Muslim, Hindu or Sikh neighbors.
Here are a few free online resources Linda uses to learn more about the people groups to which she is assigned: Southern Baptists have a wonderful website http://peoplegroups.info. Together we are attempting to map various people groups all over the United States. Also helpful are http://www.joshuaproject.net, http://www.aaanet.org/resources/practitioners/Ethnography.cfm and http://www.pioneers.org/Connect/Caleb.aspx.
Each site is designed specifically for churches and individual Christians to reach out to some of the world’s least reached peoples, and to help them start new churches.
Please pray that God will raise up more churches in the Bay Area to intentionally invest in the least reached peoples locally. Pray for international students who live in California for just a few years, but whose lives can be affected by the gospel if Christians will reach out to them. Research shows that 75% of international students have never been invited into an American home and 85% have never been invited into a Christian home. Pray for a multitude of Bay Area Christians who will show hospitality to international students in the Bay Area, and that churches will be started among them.
Dr. Linda Bergquist