Reaching the Tolupan

TEGUCIGALPA – With a total area of 43,433 square miles, it would seem that reaching everyone in a country of that size with the Gospel would be fairly easy. But then, the ability to reach people is not always defined by the square mileage in which they live.

The Tolupan people, as seen in the photo, are natives of Honduras. Although several tribes have been reached in the remote mountains and valleys, evangelists are aware of at least 45 villages living in the highest and most treacherous mountains. The Tolupan have often been called “the last unreached people group.” These people have hidden in the mountain jungles for 500 years.

Two things have managed to keep them safe from outside interference. The first and most obvious is the terrain, much of which is reachable only on footpaths and mule trails. The second is their oral history that clearly recalls the outsiders – the conquistadors – from whom they fled to avoid rape, murder, and enslavement. The microcosmic worldview is that all outsiders will do the same.

A spokesman for Final Frontiers explained, “When a foreigner approaches, they set their village on fire and flee further up the mountains.”

The Lord has opened a door for Final Frontiers because the organization has befriended tribal leaders in the accessible villages of San Juan and Ceiba lower in the mountains. Many of the Tolupan in the lower regions have come to accept Jesus Christ. The leaders have given exclusive permission to Final Frontiers to venture out and up to the unreached tribes. In addition, the chiefs will provide local guides and translators.

Several weeks ago, John Nelms of Final Frontiers decided to approach one of the closest villages accessible by four-wheel drive. He did not enter the village but honked his horn to draw attention to himself. He had taken along bags of food to distribute to the seemingly “endless trail of families walking out of the forest.”

He promised to return the following week, which he did. This time a group of teenagers from a church in Indiana went with him. As the teens mingled with the children of the village, Nelms preached the Good News. He said, “Men began to come out to meet us, some up close, some keeping a distance,” yet all close enough to hear about Jesus.

Several people indicated that they wanted to become followers of Jesus. Others offered their homes to be a meeting place for future visits.

For now, the new group of believers meets under a tree. Nelms said, “We will do our best to wrap this newborn church in swaddling clothes, then nurture and nurse them to spiritual maturity.”

Final Frontiers is now in the planning stage of an outreach to completely evangelize every village and every family among the Tolupan people.


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Image Source:

  • By Agência de Notícias do Acre: Gleilson Miranda / Governo do Acre [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons