Sub-Saharan Africa


Getting the Gospel to the Unreached, Unengaged Peoples (UUPGs) of Sub-Saharan Africa


It was their first night among their people group. A small team sent by an Embracing Church was camping in tents in the backyard of the village’s religious leader, a Muslim imam, when they encountered an Islamic man in search of the Truth. 

As a teacher of Islam and the son-in-law of the imam, Ozzie had been questioning his faith for almost a decade. In 2001, after the Twin Towers fell, Ozzie began to search the Quran and the Bible trying to understand why Muslims would claim such a massacre as the work of God. He opened the Bible to John chapter three and the story of Nicodemus. As he read, he tried desperately to understand what it meant.

It wasn’t until nine years later, once that Embracing Church had obeyed the call of God, that he would find out. As the team shared about the freedom and grace found in Christ, Ozzie leapt to his feet, clapping, shouting and celebrating the name of Jesus, for he finally found what he had been searching for.

What is an Embracing Church?

A church that accepts the challenge to take the Gospel to unreached, unengaged people group is called an Embracing Church (the term Engaging Church is also often used in Sub-Saharan Africa). An Embracing Church commits to evangelize, disciple and train members of a particular people group in a reproducible way, thus igniting a movement of churches planting churches. 

An Embracing Church is enlisted to engage a people group when:

•      no evangelical missionaries are assigned to the people group.

•      there is no significant church planting activity among the people group.

In essence, the Embracing Church is the “missionary” who takes on the responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure that the Gospel message is made available to every person among their focus people group.

Here are the basic steps involved in being an Embracing/Engaging Church:


Learn about unreached and unengaged people groups of Sub-Saharan Africa; how to connect with IMB missionaries working in SSA; what God is doing through churches like yours; and ways your church can impact the world with the Gospel. Explore this website to learn more, or contact


Prayerfully consider what God is calling your church to do. Ask God to give you a passion for the lost and guide you in the process of deciding to become an Embracing Church.


Attend interactive church planting training events called Base Camps to help you strategically prepare to engage your UUPG; gain knowledge of the most effective forms of evangelism, discipleship and church planting methods; and learn to be self-facilitating while on the field. 


Your entire church can be involved in the process of embracing your UUPG. Even those who cannot go to the field can learn about your people group, pray for them, and provide other support.

Once you have committed as a church to become an Engaging Church, arrange to send teams to your people group 4-6 times a year. While on the field, establish relationships and search for key villages and people; share culturally relevant testimonies and Bible stories; and disciple and mentor any known believers so that they can eventually become a reproducing church.


Continually sharpen your church planting skills through Forums, bi-monthly webinars where you can network with other Engaging Churches in Sub-Saharan Africa; share how your church is successfully engaging your focus people group; and ask questions of experienced missionaries.

For more information, visit the "Connect as a Church" section, or contact

Download the Embrace Sub-Saharan African Peoples App for iPad HERE