"We need another surge into the darkness! May God give us the necessary urgency and passion." -- Dale Butler, Nazarene Bible College student
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
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, there are many Christian organizations and individuals 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.
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The statistics of the numbers of non-Christians can be staggering [ fate of the unevangelized ]
"I will praise you among the nations, O Lord" -- Psalm 18:49
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 that 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 Cyprus 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) Nepal Niger Oman Pakistan Philippines Portugal Qatar Saudi Arabia Senegal Sudan Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Thailand Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan United Arab Emirates Vietnam Western Sahara Yemen
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.
Clearly, 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 with sinners needing 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!
-- 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.
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These "worlds" are not geographic areas but rather segments of the world's population.
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U.S. State Department reports on International Religious Freedom
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"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
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-- Howard Culbertson,