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Q&A: A Burden to Reach the Unreached

By Leanne Tan
About 2,000 years ago, Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). According to the Joshua Project, however, 42.4 percent of people groups today still have no idea who Jesus is, let alone what he has done. Unlike typical non-believers, these unreached people groups (UPGs) live in places isolated from any Christian influence.

In response to this, TWR Chief Content Officer Jon Fugler has taken on the personal burden of doing all he can to reach the unreached with the gospel. In addition to serving at TWR, he chairs the Alliance for the Unreached, a network of Christian organizations (TWR being one of them) dedicated to raising awareness about the unreached and mobilizing churches, organizations and individuals to minister to them. Fugler previously worked at Reach Beyond, a ministry that creates opportunities for individuals to make Jesus known to UPGs. Through his current roles at TWR and the alliance, Fugler plays his part in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Check out the interview below to find out more about Fugler and his work.

Tan: What does your role as TWR’s chief content officer entail?  

Fugler: Basically, I’m working on developing a global strategy for TWR content. We’ve been a [region-by-region] ministry for many years, and so now we’re pulling all these pieces together and lining up the content strategy with the overall strategy of TWR. So, how does content fit in with what TWR wants to do to reach the world for Christ? We’re working on English-language programming. Our priority is to develop a strategy for sharing content with Muslim audiences and a content strategy to reach UPGs. It’s really taking content now that’s regional to see how we can make these things global and use this content in different parts of the world and to see, as the world changes and people’s platforms of how they receive content are changing, how we can change our content to accommodate those platforms.  

Tan: Could you tell us what the Alliance for the Unreached is all about and how it was started?

Fugler: The Alliance for the Unreached is a coalition of ministries that puts on the International Day for the Unreached. We have about three dozen organizations that are really focused on raising the flag for the cause of the unreached. We see if we can plug people into opportunities to make a difference, whether it’d be prayer, whether it’d be to go somewhere, whether it’d be to give, … to be part of one of the alliance’s organizations or be part of something that’s going on in their own church.

The movement started when I was at Reach Beyond, which is a ministry that is fully focused on UPGs. And, actually, just one day I was at the mailbox and picked up a piece of mail from an organization that had an [event focused on a] cause happening on a particular day, and I read that and said, “Well, there needs to be a day for the unreached. We really need to raise the awareness and get people excited and mobilized to take the gospel to the unreached. We need a day to do that.” So, I came back with the idea to our president and a couple other leaders at the organization and they got excited about that and so that’s how it was born.

Tan: Tell us more about the International Day for the Unreached.

Fugler: It’s a focus day where we hope and pray that the Church will have a burden for the unreached and respond to the burden by taking the gospel to them. It’s a movement we’re fostering and spearheading with the alliance that we would really like to make it more than just a day – a year-round awareness is what we’re working toward right now.

The past few years we’ve held either live or prerecorded events that we put out through YouTube, Facebook or our website. We raise awareness about the unreached and connect believers with opportunities to get involved in reaching the unreached.

Tan: How did your passion for reaching the unreached come about?

Fugler: A friend gave me David Platt’s book, Radical. I was floored by the kinds of stories I read. I had no idea people were cut off from the gospel like that, all over the world. God put on my heart the responsibility to do something about it. I felt burdened. I wanted to take action right away. It was a passion that began burning inside my heart – out of the blue.

Tan: What are some challenges, or barriers, we face in reaching the unreached and how can they be overcome?

Fugler: The unreached today are unreached because it’s difficult to reach them. In a lot of cases, we can’t go there. The few believers that might be in these people groups are restricted in sharing their own faith. There are religious, political, social and legal barriers in these places, and Jesus hasn’t been proclaimed there because it’s hard to reach these people. When you think of media, in a lot of these places, radio is the only way to get the gospel in. So many of these countries are closing off the internet to anything religious coming in. Every day that the Word goes out … over TWR, we are getting into some of those places that we can’t get in otherwise. We have so much access to Christianity, Bibles and churches everywhere [here in the U.S.], but this isn’t the case in so many places in the world. A third of the population has no access, so we bring access, and God is using it and a lot of times we’ll never hear about it because they can’t communicate back to us. We have to be faithful to continue to bring the gospel there.

Tan: What are some ways people can contribute to the efforts of TWR and the alliance to reach the unreached?

Fugler: Well, you can go to the TWR website and find projects there that are dedicated to reaching the unreached. If you have a heart for taking the gospel to UPGs, there are opportunities there at TWR. Go online and just do that. And we just encourage people to seek out opportunities in their own churches. Is your church committed to reaching UPGs? Do you have a missionary or more than one missionary that’s out there in some of these places that you can support, that you can pray for, that you can communicate with and encourage?  Because it’s a lonely world out there for missionaries who are serving in the field. So look within your own church and see what you can do. Then you can check out the alliance website – TWR is  on there along with all the other members that do different things in reaching the unreached. We’ve got media and Bible translation and distribution, ministry for the deaf, ministry to young people, ministry to the unreached, etc. There are different things that each of these ministries is doing in reaching the unreached because of specific callings. Check that out and begin praying and enquiring. And maybe God’s going to have you go, so make sure you check out the opportunities to serve on the TWR website because God can use you no matter what your skills are and place you in that field for serving there.
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