The Unreached People Groups of North America

Hundreds of significant unreached people group communities have been formed in North America over the last few decades through migration. Christians have an opportunity to spread the love of Jesus to some of the least-reached peoples and places of the world by welcoming and loving these new arrivals. UPG North America helps you learn about these Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish communities who number at least 5,000 people in a city. You can discover which communities are most in need of gospel witness, participate in virtual prayerwalks through their neighborhoods and places of worship, and discover gospel resources in their languages. Explore the map below to discover where these groups are located, and click on the banner above to learn more about them and engage in virtual prayerwalks.

Map of the Most Significant Unreached People Group Communities in North America

This dynamic map is automatically updated from the UPG Priority Matrix. The UPG Priority Matrix identifies the most significant unreached people group communities in North America for whom prayer and laborers are needed (Luke 10:2). The icons on the map represent an unreached people group’s primary religious identity: Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu. You can select an icon for more details about a particular unreached people group community. You can also filter the map however you would like using the filter tool (use Ctrl/Cmd to select multiple options). For a short explanation of the filter categories, expand the module below. For a longer explanation of the UPG Priority Matrix, visit this FAQ page from Global Gates.

Explanation of Map Filter Categories
People Group

The primary identity of the unreached people group. In North America, sometimes the group more strongly identifies, organizes, and socializes on a nationalistic level (e.g., Pakistani) more than a purely ethno-linguistic level (e.g., Sindhi). Sometimes the people group name is associated more with language than an actual people group identity because of people’s tendency to organize around those who speak the same primary language (e.g., Indian Hindi).

Priority Score

The priority score is factored using the following weighted categories: the people group’s population size in a city, amount of Christians among that people group in the city, amount of ministry being done among that people group in the city, amount of churches started for that people group in the city, the global significance of a people group’s presence in a city, and the people group’s global status of evangelical Christianity. The higher the score, the more that people group is in need of prayer and gospel laborers.

Primary Religion

This category simply identifies the primary religious identity of a people group (e.g., even though a significant minority of Bangledeshis are Hindu, the majority of Bangladeshis identify as Muslim and thus appear under Muslim).

Primary Country of Origin

This category indicates the primary country from which a people group originates. In our modern world, people are sometimes migrating multiple times before arriving in North America. We are identifying not necessarily from where a people group is migrating from but where they originate. For example, many Tibetans migrate from India and Nepal to North America, but their primary country of origin, at least on a globally recognized geo-political level, is China.

Region of Origin

The region of origin is the general region of the world from which a people group originates in recent history. For example, many of the Jewish groups on the list are under Europe.

GSEC Score

The Global Status of Evangelical Christianity index number is listed under the people group’s profile on peoplegroups.org (and sometimes joshuaproject.net). On these sites, we look at the GSEC score for the country where the people group’s population is largest for the best representation of a global number. We then enter a score on our Matrix from 0-100 based on the GSEC score (GSEC 0=100, GSEC 1=65-95, GSEC 2=35-60, GSEC 3=5-30).

The Global Status of Evangelical Christianity scores are as follows:

0 = No evangelical Christians or churches. No access to evangelical print, audio, visual or human resources.

1 = Less than 2 percent evangelical. Some evangelical resources available. No active church planting within the past two years.

2 = Less than 2 percent evangelical. Initial or localized church planting within the past two years.

3 = Less than 2 percent evangelical. Dispersed or widespread church planting within the past two years.

Population Size in City

This category identifies the estimated population size of the people group in a particular metropolitan area. A people group has to number at least 5,000 in a metropolitan area to make this list and map (i.e., we are not identifying all unreached people group communities in North America, only those that are most in need of prayer and laborers). For information on people groups smaller in size, try searching on peoplegroups.info.

Churches Started in City

One of the ways to identify unreached people groups is there are no, or too few, local churches in which a people group can be easily incorporated. Therefore, this category measures church planting efforts in a metropolitan area to see if there are:

  • No churches remotely similar in culture to an unreached people group. Matrix score = 100.
  • Non-evangelistic or near-culture churches to an unreached people group (e.g., a Syrian Arab Christian-background church might speak the same, or similar language, as Egyptian Arab Muslims but would not easily incorporate an Egyptian Muslim-background family, or even a Syrian Arab Muslim-background family, because of cultural difference and/or animosity toward Muslim-background people). Matrix score = 60-95.
  • At least one evangelistic church that could easily incorporate the focused people group (e.g., a Bangla-speaking church w/ over one-half of their members being recent Muslim-background converts would likely be active evangelists among Bangladeshi Muslims and able to incorporate new believers into their fellowship or start new churches among them). Matrix score = 40-55.
  • Several evangelistic churches among the people group who are actively evangelizing their people and could easily incorporate new believers into their churches or start new churches among them. If several evangelical churches exist among a people group in a specific metropolitan area, the need for cross-cultural workers is greatly diminished. Matrix score = 15-35.
  • A church planting movement is taking place among an unreached people group in a metropolitan area. That is, disciples and churches are multiplying rapidly with indigenous leadership. If such a movement is taking place, cross-cultural evangelists are not needed. In fact, they could actually hinder the movement. Matrix score = 5-10.
   
People Group
Priority Score
Primary Religion
Primary Country of Origin
Region of Origin
GSEC Score
Population Size in City
Churches Started in City
  

100,000 Yemenis

Statistics Canada 2016 counted 6,645 people whose ethnic origin was Yemeni. The 2019 American Community Survey counted 58,627 people born in Yemen now living in the United States. Counting U.S.-born children and typical undercounts of Arabs in the census, it is safe to assume there are at least 100,000 Yemenis in North America. The Wikipedia article on Yemeni Americans claims "there are an estimated 100,000-200,000 Yemenis living in the United States as of 2018,” but no source is given for that statistic.

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350,000 Bosniaks

The Congress of Bosniaks of North America estimate 300,000 Bosniaks live in the United States and 50,000 in Canada.

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300,000 Somalis

The America Community Survey 2019 estimated 182,951 people reporting Somali ancestry in the United States. Statistics Canada 2016 estimated 62,500 people with Somali ethnic origin in Canada. Census figures tend to undercount groups like Somalis who are suspicious of government authorities and census takers. Community estimates of Somalis in the Greater Toronto and Edmonton areas alone number 100,000. An estimated 300,000 Somalis in North America is a conservative estimate, and their population number could be much higher.

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670,000 to 1,000,000 Sikhs

In the 2011 Statstics Canada census, 454,965 Sikhs were estimated to live in Canada. The United States does not count religious affiliation in its census, and the language of Punjabi is also spoken by Hindus and Muslims which makes "language spoken at home" a difficult category for measuring Sikhs. However, the 2012 Pew Religious Survey indicates 5% of Indian Americans are Sikh. The 2019 American Community Survey estimated 4,240,466 Asian Indians living in the United States, and 5% of that population equals 212,023. The Sikh America Coalition, however, estimates 500,000 Sikhs living in the United States. Therefore, low estimates of Sikhs in North America are around 670,000 people and high estimates are around one million.

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400,000 Afghans

The diversity of the people groups who identify as Afghans contributes to the difficulty of using census information to estimate the number of Afghans in North America. The American Community Survey 2019 counted 156,434 people in the United States with "Afghan" ancestry. However, some Afghans would identify their ancestry as Tajik, Pashtun, and so forth. Statistics Canada 2016 counted 83,995 people with Ethnic Origin as Afghan, 4,810 as Pashtun, 2,905 as Tajik, and 1,515 as Hazara. So, adding those number together gives a good idea of a low estimate of the number of Afghans in Canada. Allied Media Corporation, who has worked extensively with the Afghan American Community, estimates 300,000 Afghans live in the United States. With adding Canada's number, a reasonable estimate of Afghans in North America is 400,000 people.

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