By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor
DERIDDER – Churches in Beauregard Baptist Association are making the first steps toward adopting one of the world’s unreached and unengaged people groups.
The 47 churches and missions in Beauregard, where Tim Patrick has been director of missions since April 2011, are considering their response to a challenge by Tom Elliff, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.
“This is another example of the wheel of God’s working,” Patrick said. “He starts things turning and like spokes on a wheel the people and churches involved are gaining coordination and moving forward.”
Patrick was at the 2011 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention when Elliff spoke of the 3,800 people groups across the world where fewer than 2 percent had responded to the gospel.
There are more than 11,000 people groups on earth, Elliff said then; approximately 3,800 are UUPGs. The first “U,” unengaged, means there is no known active, evangelical church-planting strategy among the people group. The second “U,” unreached, describes a people group that is less than 2 percent evangelical Christian. A “people group” is the largest group through which the Gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance.
(As of January 2013, the IMB reports the number of UUPGs has dropped to 3,129 as a result of Southern Baptist response to his 2011 challenge.)
Patrick long has had a heart for international missions.
“There’s such a discrepancy: 50 percent of our country claims to be Christian but there are places in the world that haven’t heard the gospel,” Patrick said. “I had told the associational leadership at our spring meeting that we’d like adopting a group overseas to be one of our goals.
“I didn’t know then that Curt and DeDe [Iles] were making plans to go to Uganda,” the DOM continued. “They will be a connecting link for our whole association because everybody pretty much knows them. Dry Creek is going to adopt a people group by themselves … and First Baptist Church of Deridder is going over to Africa this summer. Actually, we’re hoping several UUPGs are adopted by our churches.”
The First Deridder team also had planned to go to Uganda; now they hope to connect with the Iles while they’re there. “This is two separate movements coming together,” Patrick said. “It’s another example of God’s timing.”
It’s also an example of the strength of the association, the DOM said. “We’re helping connect these churches,” Patrick said. “The association is a catalyst and change agent for the churches.”