Unreached People Groups Ministry

Taking the Gospel Beyond Borders

There is an essential mission underway to bring the light of the Gospel to Unreached People Groups (UPG) in some of the hardest-to-reach places on earth. Your help is needed to reach beyond borders and cultural barriers until everyone has heard. Your support transforms lives for eternity, ensuring that no one is left behind. Learn more about Unreached People Groups and the vital role you can play in reaching them.

Defining Unreached People Groups

What Is an Unreached People Group?

7,276 of the world's 17,311 people groups are unreached. That's 3.40 billion people, or 42% of the world's population. The Joshua Project provides the following definition of an Unreached People Group (UPG):

"Definition: Less than or equal to 5% Christian Adherent AND less than or equal to 2% Evangelical.


An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance."

UPGs are diverse. They have distinct cultural, linguistic, and geographical differences. But they share a common characteristic. They have never heard the precious name of Jesus. And there is little being done to reach them with the Gospel.

For many unreached tribes and people groups, there is no Bible in their native language. Many cannot read. Lack of scriptural resources is a challenging barrier to the spread of the Gospel.

There is also an absence of disciple-making churches among these people groups. Disciple-making movements are a vital part of experiencing breakthroughs with UPGs. There is an urgent need for indigenous Christians among these tribes who are striving to share what they know.

In the mosaic of diversity, each UPGs has its own set of unique challenges and cultural barriers. Understanding and addressing the distinct needs of each group is absolutely essential if we are to make progress sharing the name of Jesus with each person, until all have heard.

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UPGs Are Diverse

Ranging from massive populations, like the 128 million Muslim Shaikh people of Bangladesh, to smaller communities such as the 1,000 Dargin people in Kazakhstan, UPGs make up a broad spectrum of demographic sizes.

UPGs Lack Resources

Many tribes do not have the Bible in their native language. Many cannot read. There is a lack of disciple-making churches among UPGs. And the Christians that do exist often lack spiritual training and scriptural resources.

UPGs Are Hard to Reach

There's no sugarcoating this reality. The mission to share the Gospel with UPGs is not an easy one. There are cultural barriers and multifaceted challenges that must be understood and overcome. Yet this is our mission.

What Is an Unengaged Unreached People Group?

Unengaged Unreached People Groups (UUPGs) and Unreached People Groups (UPGs) are distinct categories within the global missions landscape, with UUPGs being a specific subset of UPGs. While both groups lack sufficient access to the Gospel, a crucial distinction lies in the presence or absence of active church-planting efforts.


As established earlier, a UPG is an unreached people group where Evangelical Christians account for less than 2% of the population. This indicates a significant lack of gospel influence and a need for intentional outreach. However, not all UPGs are unengaged. Many UPGs have ongoing church-planting initiatives, demonstrating a level of engagement with the Gospel.


UUPGs, on the other hand, are those UPGs where no known church planting is underway. This means no sustained efforts exist to establish a local, indigenous church within the community. The absence of such efforts signifies a deeper level of spiritual need and a unique challenge for mission organizations. Understanding these challenges is the first step towards addressing them, and your knowledge and action can make a significant impact.


According to the IMB Global Research Office, effective engagement with a people group involves four essential elements: apostolic effort in residence, commitment to the local language and culture, long-term ministry commitment, and a focus on catalyzing a Church Planting Movement (CPM). Without these elements, a UPG is considered unengaged.


The distinction between UPGs and UUPGs is crucial for strategic mission planning. While UPGs require continued support and engagement to strengthen existing churches and expand outreach, UUPGs necessitate a different approach. Reaching UUPGs often involves initial pioneer efforts to establish a gospel presence, develop local leadership, and cultivate a reproducing church.

UPG vs. UUPG

Unreached People Groups (UPGs) are ethnic groups with limited access to the Gospel, while Unengaged Unreached People Groups (UUPGs) are a subset of UPGs with no active church-planting efforts. This means that while all UUPGs are UPGs, not all UPGs are UUPGs, as some UPGs have ongoing church-planting initiatives.

Note: While the terms UPG and UUPG are helpful for understanding the varying degrees of Gospel need among people groups, it's crucial to remember that behind these labels are real people who urgently need to hear about Jesus.

Other Important Missions Terms

Understanding key missions terms is essential for grasping the scope of global evangelism and identifying those who have yet to hear the Gospel.

People Groups

We have been talking about Unreached People Groups, but what exactly is a people group? In the context of missions, a people group is a significantly large group of individuals who share a common identity, often based on language, ethnicity, religion, or other cultural factors. This shared identity creates a sense of affinity and understanding, making it easier for the Gospel to spread within the group without encountering significant barriers. While the exact definition of a people group can vary depending on cultural context, the ultimate goal is to identify the largest group within which the Gospel can effectively spread and lead to the establishment of indigenous churches.

Image representative of people groups

Frontier People Groups

Frontier People Groups (FPGs) represent a subset of Unreached People Groups (UPGs) with the most pressing spiritual needs. These groups have virtually no followers of Jesus, no known movements of faith, and less than 0.1% Christian adherence. FPGs are particularly challenging to reach as they often lack any existing Christian community, requiring pioneer missionaries to start from scratch with non-believers. The absence of a faith movement and the need for cross-cultural workers make reaching FPGs a significant priority in global missions.

Man in Nepal from Frontier People Group - image generated using AI

Indigenous People Groups

Indigenous People Groups are well-established communities within a country, often identified by their unique language and cultural heritage. They are multi-generational, indicating a deep-rooted connection to their land and traditions. While the exact definition can be complex and vary depending on the context, missions organizations use language as a primary identifier for Indigenous groups. Understanding the indigenous status of a people group can be crucial for missions strategies, as it may influence approaches to ministry and engagement with their specific cultural needs and sensitivities.

Woman from India in Indigenous People Group - image generated using AI

Affinity Blocs

Affinity Blocs are large-scale groupings of people groups who share commonalities in language, culture, religion, or political systems. These blocs, 16 in total, provide a broad framework for understanding the diverse cultural landscapes of the world. While each bloc may contain diverse linguistic and cultural minorities, they often share a dominant culture that shapes the region's overall identity. Affinity Blocs serve as a valuable tool for understanding global demographics and informing missions strategies.

World map with magnifying glass looking for affinity blocs

Ethno-linguistic People Groups

Ethno-linguistic people groups are groupings of individuals primarily based on their shared language, though they may be further divided by dialect or cultural differences. This model recognizes that language plays a crucial role in understanding and accepting the Gospel, making it a valuable tool for planning language-based outreach and church-planting initiatives. However, in regions like South Asia, where cultural barriers like caste or community are more significant than language, alternative models may be more appropriate for effective Gospel engagement.

Muslim from Ethno-linguistic people group

Language Groups

Language groups are collections of individuals who share a common primary language. In this model, each language group equates to a distinct ethnic group. This approach is beneficial for language-based outreach efforts like distributing literature, broadcasting radio programs, or creating recordings, ensuring the message effectively reaches the intended audience. Additionally, language groups often provide a good starting point for church planting and discipleship initiatives. However, language alone might not fully encapsulate all cultural nuances and individual preferences.

Men in India speaking, representing language groups

Least Reached People Groups

The terms "unreached people groups" and "least-reached people groups" are used interchangeably to describe people groups without a sufficient number of Christians to evangelize their own community without outside assistance. This indicates a significant need for missions efforts, as the Gospel has not yet taken root within these groups.

Muslim woman from least reached people group - image generated using AI

People Clusters

People Clusters are strategic groupings of related people groups within a larger Affinity Bloc. These clusters typically share common linguistic, cultural, or religious ties and often have populations exceeding one million. Recognizing these connections can help missions organizations identify shared challenges and opportunities for reaching multiple groups within a region. Due to their size and diversity, effective engagement with People Clusters often requires collaborative efforts from various Christian organizations to address each constituent group's unique needs and contexts.

Women from people cluster

Church Planting Movements

A Church Planting Movement (CPM), also known as an autonomous indigenous movement, is characterized by a rapid and exponential increase in the number of indigenous churches planting new churches within a specific people group or population segment. This type of movement signifies a self-propagating growth model where the momentum for church planting comes from within the community, not solely relying on external missionaries or church planters. A defining feature of a CPM is its multiplicative nature – new churches are planted by existing churches, leading to an exponential rather than linear growth pattern. This rapid expansion results in a movement that continues to flourish even without external support, growing at a rate that significantly outpaces the general population.

Women in India representing Church Planting Movements (CPM)

Movements to Jesus

"Movements to Jesus" is a broad term encompassing the diverse range of Christ-centered movements happening today. This includes renewal movements revitalizing established Christian traditions, primarily within reached people groups, and church planting initiatives to discipling families in unreached and frontier communities. Inspired by biblical examples and historical precedent, these movements emphasize families learning to follow Jesus together through accessible and replicable practices. When families unite in obedience to Christ, their collective efforts lead to abundant spiritual growth, community transformation, and reconciliation between God and humanity, ultimately establishing a lasting legacy for generations to come.

Family in India representing movements to Jesus

Where are Unreached People Groups Located?

The 10/40 Window

Map of the 10/40 Window

The 10/40 Window, a rectangular region spanning North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, is crucial in global missions. This region holds immense spiritual significance, home to over 5 billion people across thousands of distinct groups. "The 10/40 Window, often referred to as 'The Resistant Belt,' spans across a significant portion of the world and includes a large population of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. This diversity makes it a challenging and complex mission field, presenting unique opportunities for outreach and engagement."


Historically and biblically, the 10/40 Window can ultimately be traced back to the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel, underscoring its importance in God's redemptive plan for humanity. Today, it remains home to most of the world's unevangelized countries, where many lack access to the Gospel message. Additionally, the region houses the largest unreached people groups and least evangelized megacities, highlighting the urgent need for focused outreach efforts.


The 10/40 Window is dominated by three major religious blocs: Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. These deeply ingrained belief systems present unique challenges for sharing the Christian faith, requiring culturally sensitive and contextualized approaches to evangelism.


Widespread poverty also characterizes the 10/40 Window, with a significant portion of the world's poorest living within its borders. This economic disparity often intersects with spiritual poverty, emphasizing the need for holistic ministry approaches that address both physical and spiritual needs.


The spiritual strongholds in the 10/40 Window and the various cultural and religious barriers make it a challenging yet crucial focus for Christian missions. The renewed focus on reaching the unreached peoples of this region reflects a commitment to fulfill the Great Commission and share the Gospel with those who have yet to hear it.


Below is a list of countries within the 10/40 Window, each with a brief description:

  • Afghanistan: A landlocked country with a predominantly Muslim population and ongoing conflict.
  • Albania: A Balkan nation with a mix of Muslim, Christian, and secular populations.
  • Algeria: A North African country with a large Muslim population and significant oil reserves.
  • Azerbaijan: A transcontinental country with a majority Shia Muslim population and rich cultural heritage.
  • Bahrain: A small island nation in the Persian Gulf known for its financial sector.
  • Bangladesh: A densely populated South Asian country with a predominantly Muslim population.
  • Benin: A West African nation with a diverse religious landscape, including Christianity, Islam, and Vodun.
  • Bhutan: A Himalayan kingdom known for its unique culture and focus on Gross National Happiness.
  • Brunei: A small Southeast Asian sultanate with a Muslim-majority population and significant oil and gas resources.
  • Burkina Faso: A landlocked West African nation with a predominantly Muslim population and a history of political instability.
  • Cambodia: A Southeast Asian country known for its ancient temples and tragic history.
  • Chad: a landlocked country in Central Africa with a diverse religious and ethnic composition.
  • China: The world's most populous country with a complex religious landscape and growing economic influence.
  • China, Hong Kong: A special administrative region of China that combines Eastern and Western cultures in a unique way.
  • China, Macau: Another special administrative region of China known for its casinos and Portuguese colonial heritage.
  • Djibouti: A small Horn of Africa nation strategically located near major shipping routes.
  • Egypt: A historic North African country with a predominantly Muslim population and iconic ancient monuments.
  • Eritrea: A Horn of Africa nation with a history of conflict and a predominantly Christian population.
  • Ethiopia: A diverse East African country with a rich Christian heritage and unique cultural traditions.
  • Gambia: A small West African nation surrounded by Senegal and known for its beaches and wildlife.
  • Guinea: A West African nation rich in natural resources but facing challenges with poverty and political instability.
  • Guinea-Bissau: A small West African nation with a history of political turmoil and a diverse cultural heritage.
  • India: The world's second most populous country with a rich tapestry of religions, languages, and cultures.
  • Indonesia: The world's largest island country with a predominantly Muslim population and diverse ethnic groups.
  • Iran: A Middle Eastern nation with a Shia Muslim majority and a complex political landscape.
  • Iraq: A Middle Eastern country with a predominantly Shia Muslim population and a history marked by conflict.
  • Israel: A Middle Eastern nation with a Jewish majority and significant religious and historical significance.
  • Japan: An East Asian island nation with a unique culture and advanced technological development.
  • Jordan: A Middle Eastern country with a predominantly Muslim population and important historical and archaeological sites.
  • Kazakhstan: A Central Asian country with a diverse population and vast natural resources.
  • Korea, North: A reclusive East Asian nation with a communist government and a history of human rights abuses.
  • Kuwait: A small Arab state in the Persian Gulf known for its oil reserves.
  • Kyrgyzstan: A Central Asian nation with a nomadic heritage and stunning mountain landscapes.
  • Laos: A landlocked Southeast Asian country with a communist government and a predominantly Buddhist population.
  • Lebanon: A Middle Eastern country with a diverse religious and cultural landscape.
  • Libya: A North African nation with a predominantly Muslim population and significant oil reserves.
  • Malaysia: A Southeast Asian country with a diverse population and a mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures.
  • Maldives: a luxurious island nation in the Indian Ocean, renowned for its opulent resorts and breathtaking natural beauty.
  • Mali: A landlocked West African nation with a predominantly Muslim population and a rich cultural heritage.
  • Mauritania: A West African country with a predominantly Muslim population and a vast desert landscape.
  • Mongolia: A landlocked East Asian nation with a nomadic heritage and vast grasslands.
  • Morocco: A North African country with a rich cultural heritage and a mix of Arab and Berber traditions.
  • Myanmar (Burma): A Southeast Asian country with a predominantly Buddhist population and a history of political repression.
  • Nepal: A Himalayan country with a diverse cultural landscape and a predominantly Hindu population.
  • Niger: A landlocked West African nation with a predominantly Muslim population and significant uranium reserves.
  • Nigeria: The most populous country in Africa with a diverse religious and ethnic makeup.
  • Oman: An Arab country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula known for its traditional culture and stunning landscapes.
  • Pakistan: A South Asian country with a predominantly Muslim population and a nuclear arsenal.
  • Qatar: A small Arab state in the Persian Gulf known for its vast natural gas reserves and hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
  • Saudi Arabia: The largest country in the Arabian Peninsula with a predominantly Muslim population and vast oil reserves.
  • Senegal: A West African nation known for its vibrant culture and political stability.
  • Somalia: A Horn of Africa nation with a predominantly Muslim population and a history of political instability.
  • Sri Lanka: An island nation in the Indian Ocean with a diverse religious and ethnic landscape.
  • Sudan: A North African country with a predominantly Muslim population and a history of conflict.
  • Syria: A Middle Eastern country with a predominantly Muslim population and a devastating ongoing civil war.
  • Taiwan: An island nation with a unique political status and a technologically advanced economy.
  • Tajikistan: A Central Asian nation with a predominantly Muslim population and a mountainous terrain.
  • Thailand: A Southeast Asian country known for its beaches, Buddhist temples, and vibrant culture.
  • Timor-Leste: A Southeast Asian island nation with a predominantly Catholic population and a history of conflict.
  • Tunisia: A North African country known for its beaches, ancient ruins, and diverse cultural heritage.
  • Türkiye (Turkey): A transcontinental country with a predominantly Muslim population and a rich cultural heritage.
  • Turkmenistan: A Central Asian nation with a predominantly Muslim population and vast natural gas reserves.
  • United Arab Emirates: A federation of seven emirates in the Persian Gulf known for its modern cities and oil wealth.
  • Uzbekistan: A Central Asian nation with a predominantly Muslim population and a rich history along the Silk Road.
  • Vietnam: A Southeast Asian country with a communist government and a diverse cultural heritage.
  • West Bank / Gaza: A disputed territory with a predominantly Palestinian population and ongoing conflict.
  • Western Sahara: A disputed territory on the northwest coast of Africa with a predominantly Sahrawi population.
  • Yemen: An Arab country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula with a predominantly Muslim population and ongoing conflict.
* Sources referenced throughout this page: Joshua Project, IMB Global Research Office, and Finishing The Task (FTT)

How Can You Pray for Unreached People Groups?

  1. 1
    Access
    Pray for open doors and opportunities for His Feet's missionaries and frontline workers to access and live among Unreached People Groups. Many UPGs are located in areas with restricted access. Please pray for favor with authorities and for creative strategies to reach these communities.
  2. 2
    Cultural Sensitivity and Understanding
    Ask for the Holy Spirit to grant missionaries cultural sensitivity and understanding as they engage with UPGs. Respect for local customs and traditions is vital for building relationships and sharing the Gospel in a way that is effective.
  3. 3
    Spiritual Breakthrough
    Pray for a spiritual breakthrough in the hearts of individuals within UPGs. Ask God to soften hearts, remove spiritual barriers, and open minds to the light of the Gospel. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, understanding, and a desire for a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  4. 4
    Local Leadership and Discipleship
    Please pray that God would raise up local leaders from within UPGs who will become disciples and leaders in their communities. Pray for healthy indigenous churches that will continue to share the Gospel and make disciples long after missionaries have left.