Reaching the unreached in Illinois
I’ve lived in Illinois my entire life. I was born and raised in the capitol and attended college at ISU (Illinois State University). I’ve visited family each year in southern Illinois and taken countless road trips to Chicago and the northern suburbs. I’ve also been an Illinois Baptist my entire life.
Having grown up here and very involved in the church, I know well the Baptist beliefs, as well as the spiritual state of this mission field we call home. What I didn’t know, though, is that there are 83 unreached people groups right here in the U.S… and almost 10 in our own backyard!
One (or both) of two barriers typically define what qualifies as an unreached people group: understanding and acceptance.
The issue of understanding largely comes down to language. And where many may think this is only a problem in third world countries and isolated jungles, you may be surprised to learn as I was that in Illinois, we have 9 official unreached people groups that fall into this category. Then there are many more who fall into the latter—those who are unengaged and simply refuse to accept the truth of the Bible.
Combined, the total adds up to more than 8 million here who are lost.
And I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that many of these unreached, unengaged people reside in the greater Chicagoland area—a region where approximately 70% of our state’s population lives. It’s not only the biggest, most diverse region in Illinois, but one of the nation’s largest cultural melting pots. Which is why the work of church planters there is as crucial as ever.
In this one city are millions of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Isolated neighborhoods that look and function as if you were in a completely different country. Unreached people groups hiding among the throngs.
The potential reach of the gospel in Chicago is astounding. But the message of Jesus Christ is only going to go forth there as long as there are generous, prayerful people and willing church planters willing to support this Great Commission endeavor. To bridge the gap and meet these lost and searching individuals where they are, we must pray, give, and go.
Read the Sept. 12 edition of the Illinois Baptist to learn more about one Chicago church planter, Kenyatta Smith, and his mission to reach unbelievers and give people another chance in Christ.
My eyes have been opened to the unreached. What’s in your spiritual blind spot?
– Morgan Jackson is an editorial contributor for IBSA and freelance writer living in Bloomington, IL.