by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
A sampling of the resources the web offers those interested in pursuing a people group approach to mission.
Perhaps the most significant development in evangelical mission strategy over the last 25 years has been the emphasis on seeing the Great Commission task in terms of people groups rather than geographic or political boundaries. While this has sparked some controversy, the number of evangelical mission agencies involved and the excitement over global consultations (such as the GCOWE conferences) focusing on this strategy show that it is here to stay. This column will present a sampling of the resources the World Wide Web offers those interested in pursuing a people group approach to mission.
There are two primary ways to look for information on peoples around the world: (1) search engines and (2) sites with organized people group information. For your convenience, we have organized these into one gateway site you can use to speed your own search; identical versions are located at two places on the Web: www.gmi.org/research/peoples.htm and www.wheaton.edu/Missions/Moreau/Unreached.htm. Both consist of a table listing several search engines as well as a number of Web sites specifically devoted to listing and researching people groups (see table on page 213). To reach any of the sites on this table, just place your pointer on the name and click. We intend to add resources to this table, so there may be additional rows (and sites to access) by the time you reach it (another reminder of the "live" nature of the Web as opposed to traditional publishing).
The first two rows list some of the more useful search engines. (Search engines are computer programs that look through the texts of Web pages that have been registered in databases. Each search engine has its own database, and so often searching through several engines gives more complete results.) Since space is limited, we’ll only describe the first row of search engines: Metacrawler, Hotbot, Northern Light, and AltaVista.
Metacrawler is a good place to start because it quickly compiles the results from several search engines (including AltaVista, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Web Crawler, and Yahoo!), discards duplicates, and gives a list of the results. While the number of matches may be low for any given search, it gives you a quick scan of the main resources. Hotbot, maintained by Wired Magazine, performs a more traditional search through a huge and quickly searched database (you can limit your search, for example, by date and continent). Northern Light’s search is helpful because it organizes all of the matches it finds into separate folders that you can search individually. This can save significant time when you get large numbers of matches. AltaVista is one of the oldest search engines around, and in addition to regular searching it lets you search for people and businesses and draw maps with directions to get from one place to another.
When we asked each of the search engines to look for "unreached people groups" (type this in exactly, including the quotation marks; upper or lower letters are treated as identical in most search engines) as a phrase (one of the options for searching), Metacrawler found 18 unique Web pages (jargon: matches or hits), Hotbot 951, Northern Light 4,790 (which it organized into 13 folders ranging from commercial sites to the AD2000 page to various pages dealing with Hindu peoples), and AltaVista 1,208. It is obvious that they are not searching identical databases and that each will have a unique listing of hits. Since new groups are registering every day, you will get different results when you search.
You may also use search engines to look for a particular people group. Often you will get far more sites than you had expected. For example, we searched Metacrawler for the Aceh (a people in Indonesia) and turned up 26 listings. The first is the Aceh site (named after the province in Indonesia; goarchi.com/archo/provinces/aceh/acehhome.html), giving an overview of business, economics, politics, and history of the province and the people. The rest of the listings are either part of the Indonesian Aceh site or irrelevant matches (e.g., Ace Hose and Rubber Company), showing the limitations of Metacrawler’s searching.
Search Engines Melacrawler Hotbot Northern Light AltaVista
More search engines NetSearch SIL Search Links Unified Universal Search Engines Gateway Inference Find
Peoples Group Profiles Joshua Project Profiles Bethany World Prayer Center Unreached Peoples Prayer Profiles AD2000 People Profile Index C&MA People Group Listings
Caleb Project (CP) Sites CP CP Prayer List Nance Profiles African Peoples
Resources for Sale Christian Information Network Bethany WPC’s Unreached Peoples Report Global Mapping Resources CP’s List of People Resources
Other Real Audio Sites Ethnologue Online Brigada’s People Group Consultant AD2000 Cities Profiles
The same search in the other engines gave the following results: Hotbot: 5,632; Northern Light: 2024 (in 12 folders); and AltaVista: 938. Obviously searching each one of the matches would be impossible, but they are usually organized and listed by what the search engine program considers most relevant based on what you have asked it to do. Each search engine found the same Indonesian Aceh site mentioned above. Northern Light gave access to the Joshua Project and Nance profiles of the Aceh in the folder titled "Non-Profit Sites."
When you receive as many matches as with the Aceh search, it is best to narrow your search by adding more terms. For example, when we searched for "unreached peoples" and "Aceh" (typing both in the search line), Hotbot gave 37 matches, Northern Light 31, and AltaVista 2,038. AltaVista let us refine the search by requiring the words "unreached" and "aceh," and the resulting search turned up a more realistic 20 sites. The matches for all the search engines included materials ranging from the Aceh profiles on the Bethany and Caleb Project sites to a video series for sale from William Carey library and even a poem about unreached peoples naming the Aceh at the WEC Canada site!
The second row gives you sites that list several search engines; the third row gives access to listings of people profiles; the fourth row highlights Caleb Project’s various people group lists; the fifth row offers resources to purchase; and the sixth row accesses additional resources on people groups. Due to space limitations, we will only highlight a few of the sites and resources available through our gateway site.
The first resource is the Joshua Project list of People Group Profiles. Peoples with profiles available on the Web are listed alphabetically (currently well over 2,000). Click on the group you are interested in, and you will be taken to the relevant Web page. Many of the pages do not give you additional links, so even if you have the profile, it is still important to use the search engines to uncover more information. For example, clicking on the listing for the Aceh people, we get basic demographic information (estimated worldwide population of 3,490,000) and a cross-linking to a GEM page, but no link to the Indonesian site that Metacrawler turned up. The lesson? Don’t stop with one method of searching on the Web. Searching the Web is like making a list of important contacts; you keep going until you no longer get new, significant people to add to your list.
The next gateway is the Bethany World Prayer Center Unreached Peoples Prayer Profiles, an outreach of Bethany World Prayer Center, a megachurch in Baker, La. The church maintains an extensive site of people group profiles with specific prayer requests.
Another site (which gets an entire row in our table) is the Caleb Project. Caleb Project is deeply involved in researching, publishing, and promoting issues of unreached peoples. Its site provides links to several sets of people group profiles, including the older Nance Profiles as well as profiles specifically related to Africa.
A fifth site is Ethnologue Online. Ethnologue is Wycliffe’s standardized catalogue of the world’s languages and dialects. When we searched the Ethnologue for the Aceh people, we found out that the population is listed as 3 million and that the New Testament was in press in 1996. Let the reader beware: The different population estimates (Ethnologue and the Joshua Project List of Profiles) show the types of variations in the demographic data you will find.
The name of the "People Group Consultant" site, maintained by Brigada, seems to imply more than the site actually does; it searches a database and displays specific (and limited) information on the group you request. When we asked for information on the Aceh of Indonesia, it provided the codes used to identify them linguistically, the population, and the Southern Baptist Convention database evangelization classification (as of 1995). However, it did not search out the country or region pages.
In addition to these sites, our table gives access to several groups that offer products for sale. As a general precaution, unless you are running a secure Web browser, we encourage you to order directly by phone, mail, or e-mail rather than through the Web.
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