10/40 Window: We need to be stirred to action!

"We need another surge into the darkness! May God give us the necessary urgency and passion." -- Dale Butler, Nazarene Bible College student

"I will sing of you among the peoples." — Psalm 57:9

What and where is the 10/40 Window?

Most of the people groups unreached by the gospel live within a rectangular area stretching across northern Africa and into southern Asia. Christian missions strategist Luis Bush started calling this rectangular area or band"the 10/40 window." He used that easy-to-remember name because it covers Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator.1

The task remaining: Click on
red 10/40 window area
of this world map
for staggering statistics

Window factsworld
map showing location of 10/40 window where many unreached peoples live

World evangelism statistics: Of the 55 least evangelized countries, 97% of their population lives within the 10/40 Window. Unless something changes, huge numbers of these unreached people groups will go out into eternity never having heard the Gospel. Why? Well, researcher Justin Long has estimated that only about 10% of the global missionary force is working there. One reason is that in many 10/40 Window countries, open evangelism is difficult and even impossible because of governmental restrictions. Such places are also called creative access areas.

Many factors contribute to the spiritual need in the 10/40 Window, including poverty, political instability, and the influence of other religions. Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism are the dominant religions in many of these countries, and Christianity is often viewed with suspicion or outright hostility. Despite these challenges, many denominations, missions boards, and individuals are working to spread the gospel and meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people in the 10/40 Window.

Overall, the 10/40 Window represents a significant missions challenge and opportunity for the global church to share the love of Christ with those who have never heard.

1Lines of latitude run in an east-west direction around the earth. Together with north-south longitude lines, the latitude lines enable the precise marking of every place on Earth. Although these are only imaginary lines, they appear on maps and globes as if they actually existed. The equator is the "0" latitude line with all of the other latitude lines labeled in terms of "degrees north" and "degrees south." The use of latitude/longitude lines began more than two thousand years ago.

What will you do in the next five days that will move the Church toward reaching people in the 10/40 window with the gospel?

The vision of a dying world: The people in the mission fields

Working on a school report about missions? Here are some facts to use.

Missions statistics from the countries of the 10/40 Window:

More on the poor

Statistical data on unreached people groups/prayer points:

The statistics of the numbers of non-Christians can be staggering [ fate of the unevangelized ]

Bible translation availability

"I will praise you among the nations, O Lord" -- Psalm 18:49

Global harvest in the nations: Countries in the area designated as the 10/40 Window

The 10/40 Window concept is one way of looking at the task yet to be done in world evangelism. Another way is to focus on the unreached people groups wherever they may be in the world. Mission organizations have historically talked about their outreach in terms of the nations in which they are working. Using that lens, here are the sovereign states in the 10/40 window:

As a quick bit of research will show, there are huge variations economically, culturally, politically, religiously, ancestral heritage, population size, and climate-wise. The only two things they all have in common are geographic location and significant percentages of unbelievers. They all are located in a rectangular area from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator, with Africa and Southern Europe forming the western end of the rectangle and Asia forming the eastern end of it.

Afghanistan    Algeria    Bahrain    Bangladesh    Benin    Bhutan    Burkina Faso    Cambodia    Chad    China       Djibouti    Egypt    Eritrea    Ethiopia    Gambia    Gibraltar    Greece    Guinea    Guinea-Bissau    India    Iran    Iraq    Israel    Japan    Jordan    Korea (North and South)    Kuwait    Laos    Lebanon    Libya    Macau    Mali    Malta    Mauritania    Morocco    Myanmar (Burma)    Nepalj    Niger    Oman    Pakistan    Philippines    Portugal    Qatar    Saudi Arabia    Senegal    Sudan    Syria    Taiwan    Tajikistan    Thailand    Tunisia    Turkey    Turkmenistan    United Arab Emirates    Vietnam    Western Sahara    Yemen

Mission Briefing: Ideas that shape world mission outreach today

10/40 Window focus

A few decades ago missiologist Luis Bush coined the phrase "10/40 Window." He did that to focus attention on a specific area of the world where millions have little or no access to the Gospel.

Bush asked believers to draw an imaginary rectangle on the globe going from 10 degrees north of the equator to 40 degrees north of the equator, stretching from westernmost Africa to just east of Japan. Pointing to that imaginary oblong "window," Bush pleaded with the Church to mobilize prayer, people, and resources to evangelize and disciple people in all of the unreached and least-reached people groups in the northern half of Africa, the Middle East, and the areas once ruled by the ancient Babylonian and Persian empires as well as much of Asia including India and China.

The statistics from that 10/40 Window can be staggering. Two-thirds of all people on Earth live in that rectangular area. Almost all of the world's 55 least-evangelized countries are in the 10/40 Window. Half of the world's least-evangelized large cities are in the 10/40 Window. The majority of the world's Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs live in the 10/40 Window. Sadly, the 10/40 Window is also home to 8 out of 10 of the poorest of the earth's poor.

Many areas in the 10/40 Window are places that Nazarene World Mission director Verne Ward describes as "where the Church is not yet." With just 10% of the current global Christian missionary force deployed there, that situation is not changing very rapidly. Unfortunately, almost 9 out of 10 of the people living in the 10/40 Window today remain outside the reach of current evangelistic efforts.

In several 10/40 Window countries, Christians suffer physical persecution and even death for their faith. Due to anti-Christianity hostility and stringent government restrictions, many missionaries in the 10/40 Window have become creative in evangelizing and discipling people. Many of these countries will not give visas to religious workers. So they have been labeled Creative Access areas. For these and other reasons, Patrick Johnstone has called this area the "resistant belt."

Drawing attention to the evangelistic task yet to be done, the visually dramatic 10/40 Window concept has inspired many to offer themselves for missionary service in some of the world's most difficult and challenging places.

To be sure, the countries of the 10/40 Window are not the only places that need missionaries. So, this is not a call to remove missionaries from other areas of the world and send them all to the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window countries are not the only ones in the world who had sinners that need missionaries to cross cultural and language barriers to tell them about God's redeeming grace. However, the 10/40 Window does contain huge blocs of people who, by any definition, are today unreached and unevangelized.

We must pray that God will call more and more laborers into the countries in the 10/40 Window harvest field!

The unreached ethnolinguistic people groups

Another way of looking at where the Gospel message has not penetrated very well is a map by Pray10/40.com which shows concentrations of unreached people groups.

world map showing the location of
large concentrations of unreached peoples

The Pray 10/40 group has also created a world map on which dots have been placed to show the location of unreached people groups.

world map showing location
of many unreached peoples

Image credit: https://pray1040.com/unreached-people-groups-the-ultimate-guide/

Discussion questions

  1. Can you describe the 10/40 Window and explain why Luis Bush coinedhis phrase? What significance should the 10/40 Window concept have in conversations about world evangelism?
  2. What are some of the statistics associated with the 10/40 Window, and why are they significant in terms of world mission outreach? What are some of the implications of the fact that almost 9 out of 10 people in the 10/40 Window remain outside the reach of current evangelistic efforts?
  3. Why has the 10/40 Window also been called the "resistant belt"? What are some of the challenges that missionaries face in the 10/40 Window, and how have they responded to these challenges?
  4. Why might it be important to focus on the 10/40 Window while recognizing that other areas of the world also need Christian missionaries?
  5. How can individuals and churches get involved in making disciples in the 10/40 Window? What importance should be given to prayer in mobilizing missionaries for the 10/40 Window?

    -- Howard Culbertson

This mini-essay on a key issue in world missions is one of 12 articles in the "Mission briefing" series published in Engage, a monthly online magazine produced by the Church of the Nazarene.

Note: Latitude lines such as "10" and "40" in 10/40, also known as parallels, are imaginary lines that run parallel to the equator on the Earth's surface. They are used to measure the distance north or south of the equator, and they are expressed in degrees. The equator itself is 0 degrees latitude, and as you move north from the equator, the latitude values increase up to 90 degrees at the North Pole. Similarly, as you move south from the equator, latitude values increase up to 90 degrees at the South Pole. There are a total of 180 lines of latitude, 90 north of the equator and 90 south of it. The lines are evenly spaced and are typically depicted on maps and globes to aid in navigation and geographic reference.

World A, World B, and World C -- Another way of looking at what still needs to be done to fulfill Christ's Great Commission

Some mission strategists have divided the world's population into three groups they call World A, World B, and World C

These "worlds" are not geographic areas but rather segments of the world's population.

World watch lists

Open Doors: 50 countries where there are limitations, oppression, and even severe persecution of converts to Jesus Christ.

U.S. State Department reports on International Religious Freedom

"God forgive us when we cheapen the sacrifice of those who have gone before us when we claim we are being persecuted for our faith in the U.S." — Louise Smith, Nazarene Bible College student

"What would we do about it if the 66,000 who die every day in unreached people groups were individuals trapped in a well?" -- Phil Bogosian

What can you do to reach unreached people groups wherever they are?

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -- Galatians 6:9

Here are five things you can start doing today. to reach unreached people groups

Model stewardship
Give all you can to missions. How? Try living on the same salary as a missionary. Give the rest of what you make to world evangelism. [ Faith Promise giving ]
Be an intercessor.
The Apostle Paul urged people to pray for him. In several of his letters, he said that he had been praying for them as well. [ praying for missionaries ]
Join up
Sign on with your local church's missions promotion group
Zeal and focus can be hard to maintain on your own. So, work and pray with others. That may protect you from running out of steam, and it will certainly multiply your impact.
Enlist others
Multiply yourself
Think of yourself as a recruiting officer for the Lord's army.
Are your Christian friends and family members plugged into God's global purpose? [ Missions in the Bible ]
What if every person with missionary zeal reproduced his or her vision in just one other person? Imagine the prayer and giving you could generate by enlisting your friends and family in the cause of world evangelism.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
Be focused rather than frenzied.
Act strategically. Don't get caught up in frenzied activity that only annoys those around you and burns you out rather than moving the church toward its long-term goals.

"This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations" -- Matthew 24:14 (more on Matthew 24:14

Missional Digerati, a community of thinkers, designers and developers committed to exploiting breakthroughs in technology in order to advance the pace of reaching every person on earth with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Data sources

"From the ends of the earth we hear singing: 'Glory to the Righteous One.'" — Isaiah 24:16

The Circle of Significance

One more way of looking at where missionaries are needed is with "The Circle of Significance" from City Vision. Inside that circle, which e ncompasses much of Asia, live 99% of all the world's Hindus, 99% of all the world's Taoists, and 98% of all Buddhists. That circle, which has a radius of 2000 miles (the distance from New York City to Albuquerque, NM), is home to over 4 billion people, most of them unreached by the Gospel.

4,000 mile diameter Circle of
Significance in Asia where billions of  unreached people live,

    -- Howard Culbertson,

More on being witnesses about Jesus Christ to lost people

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