Frontier People Groups and Diaspora Missions in North America

Jan 5, 2023 | Cross-Cultural Ministry, Diaspora Missions, Frontier Missions

In 2018, Mission Frontiers introduced the sub-classification of unreached people groups called Frontier People Groups (FPGs).1 The idea underlying FPGs is they lack the seed to see the Christian community flourish and multiply. The gospel has not been planted, nor any indigenous Christian community exists among them. Without outside help, these people groups will likely never hear the Good News of Christ. The FPGs highlight one of the most strategic areas to mobilize cross-cultural workers. This article will define Frontier People Groups, introduce common challenges and opportunities, and explore the possibility of seeing Frontier People Groups reached through diaspora in global cities. 

An FPG has no evidence of a gospel movement, less than 0.1% or less Christian of any kind, and an unmet need for pioneer work from the outside. There are currently 4,977 FPGs globally.2 These people groups make up twenty-five percent of the world’s population. There are various barriers to seeing movements among FPGs. First, many FPGs live in geographic areas that are difficult to access. Ninety percent of all FPGs live in the 10/40 window. The 10/40 window is an area of significant unreached populations that fall between ten and forty degrees of latitude across the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. 

Second, many churches and organizations seek to partner with local churches or leaders for ministry partnerships. There are no churches or leaders among FPGs. Therefore, it leaves fewer resources available for mobilization to FPGs. In pioneering work, there are no current opportunities to connect. Churches and organizations must be willing to pioneer among new peoples and places. 

Lastly, FPGs have spiritual strongholds that keep them unreached. FPGs have lived generations of false worship. They are blind and deceived by their system of religion. It will take the move of God’s Spirit to break down strongholds, give them eyes, and bring them to Himself. 

However, the biggest reason they are unreached is that not enough gospel workers and resources are allocated for their evangelization. Yes, it will be a sovereign work of God that brings FPGs into the Kingdom, but God has displayed His joy in using the human agent in the salvation of people. Only one percent of field missionaries are working to reach FPG, which makes up twenty-five percent of the world’s population. That is the equivalent of one missionary for every 450,000 people among FPGs. They have virtually no access to the gospel, the Bible, or a Christian. 

So how can we reconcile suggesting allocating missionaries and resources among the diaspora in North America if FPGs are of high strategic value? There are FPGs with significant numbers in North American cities. Based on the research using and the UPG North America priority matrix, there are at least 25 FPGs in North America with a population of over 5,000 in one city. 

The number of Frontier people groups in North America is more than twenty-five. UPG North America often classifies people groups in a broader context in the diaspora that is difficult to directly connect to an individual people group in their home country. For example, there are thousands of South Asian people groups, but in the diaspora, their identity grows wider to be a cluster based on language and religion. Gujarati in North America identifies around language and religion. Yet, there are hundreds of Gujarati-speaking people groups that live in India. This research excluded these types of people group entries. Furthermore, only groups that are FPGs in countries where they are indigenous are included. For example, this does not include Somalis because, in Somalia, they are not considered an FPG, even though Somalis in the United States are still considered an FPG. 3

Engaging FPGs in North America avoids some of the barriers to evangelism in their home country. First, access is wide open. There are no governmental restrictions and little to no threat of physical harm. Second, local churches can adopt and engage an FPG that lives in their city. Third, engaging an FPG in North America allows workers to develop skills, language, and cultural understanding to continue to pursue church planting among an FPG in their home country if access opens. Fourth, people are more open to new ideas during transition, such as moving to a new country. Lastly, because of technology and media, the gospel can spread from FPGs in North America to their own people across the globe and not be limited to geography.

Likewise, there are unique challenges present in North America. First, it is a temptation to extract a new believer from their culture into a culturally foreign expression of worship. Second, there are smaller communities that limit the gospel’s spread locally and are a challenge to seeing local healthy indigenous churches in the diaspora. Third, the significant populations of FPGs are in urban areas. Traditionally, people movements to Christ have had significant barriers in urban areas and among urban peoples. Furthermore, in some instances, the people group’s identity and homogeneity reduce in the diaspora. Historically, homogeneity in a community helps the rapid spread of the gospel. In the diaspora, people groups often adopt a hybrid identity after a few years. 4

Here are introductions to five Frontier People Groups in North America that you and your church can begin praying for, mobilizing toward, and sharing with. 


  • Country of primary origin: Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Global Population: 3,124,400
  • Population in North America: 350,000
  • Percentage of the total population in North America: 11.2%
  • Major cities with significant populations: St. Louis, Chicago
  • Virtual Prayerwalk among Bosniak in Chicago
    • Ranking on 2022 Open Doors World Watch List: N/A

Somali Bantu

  • Country of primary origin: Somalia
  • Global Population: 1,022,100
  • Population in North America: 59,100
  • Percentage of the total population in North America: 5.78%
  • Major cities with significant populations: Toronto, Columbus, OH
  • Virtual Prayerwalk among Somali Bantu in Columbus, OH
    • Ranking on 2022 Open Doors World Watch List: 3rd

Yemeni Arab

  • Country of primary origin: Yemen
  • Global Population: 8,614,100
  • Population in North America: 100,000
  • Percentage of the total population in North America: 1.2%
  • Major cities with significant populations: Detroit, New York City
  • Virtual Prayerwalk among Yemeni Arabs in Metro New York 
    • Ranking on 2022 Open Doors World Watch List: 5th

Morrocan Arabs

  • Country of primary origin: Morocco 
  • Global Population: 29,493,300
  • Population in North America: 255,000
  • Percentage of the total population in North America: 0.86%
  • Major cities with significant populations: Montreal, New York

Eastern Yiddish-Speaking Jews 5

  • Country of primary origin: Israel
  • Global Population: 793,500
  • Population in North America: 461,697
  • Percentage of the total population in North America: 58.18%
  • Major cities with significant populations: New York, Los Angeles
  • Virtual Prayerwalk among Satmar Jewish in Metro New York 
  • Ranking on 2022 Open Doors World Watch List: N/A


  • Country of primary origin: Senegal
  • Global Population: 6,447,000
  • Population in North America: 73,600
  • Percentage of the total population in North America: 1.14%
  • Major cities with significant populations: New York 
  • Virtual Prayerwalk among Wolof in New York Metro 
  • Ranking on 2022 Open Doors World Watch List: N/A

God has given the church in North America a great opportunity to engage peoples who have likely never heard the gospel. It’s an opportunity to mobilize cross-culturally to multiply disciples of Jesus within our country’s boundaries. It’s an opportunity to equip new believers to take the gospel back to their homeland in person or through media. It’s an opportunity to see more experienced workers going to hard places through relationships birthed through the diaspora. Engaging FPGs in the diaspora is not a replacement for going to their country of origin. Still, the diaspora becomes a part of a strategy to see a people group have the opportunity to receive the gospel and experience a gathering that is a culturally relevant form that can spread and multiply. 

How will the church respond to God bringing Frontier People Groups to North America?

Will you:

  • Recognize the divine opportunity and embrace the responsibility?
  • Ask God to open your eyes to the hidden people in your city?
  • Pray for frontier people groups in your city?
  • Seek opportunities for training with gospel-expanding strategies?
  • Join an ever-growing network of practitioners in North America, locking arms to see every people and place with a multiplying church movement.

Need more resources for the next steps? 

This resource page has links to trusted resources that include categories such as UPGs, training/education, diaspora-focused organizations, religion-specific resources, podcasts, and more. 

Who are the Frontier People Groups in North America?

People Group NameCountry of orgin where they are frontier and IndigenousTotal Population of People Group GloballyTotal population of PG in North AmericaPercentage of population in North America
Eastern Yiddish SpeakingIsrael793,500461,69758.18%
Moroccan ArabMorocco29,493,300255,0000.86%
Israeli Sabra JewishWest Bank/Gaza5,537,000157,0002.84%
Algerian, Arabic-speakingAlgeria36,187,900130,0000.36%
Yemeni ArabYemen8,614,100100,0001.16%
Bukharan JewishUzbekistan142,80072,00050.42%
Persian JewishIran135,00065,00048%
KurdsTurkey, Iraq, Iran,38,725,00060,0000.15%
Somali BantuSomalia1,022,10059,1005.78%
Moroccan BerberMorocco4,726,20038,0000.80%
Fulbe FutaGuinea5,268,50020,1000.38%
Fouta TooroSenegal1,913,00012,6000.65%
Gorsky-Kavkasi JewishAzerbaijan103,60010,00010%
MandinkaThe Gambia2,319,30010,0000.43%
Moroccan JewishMorocco66,2007,10010.73%
Total 512,914,1002,981,597


1. (accessed 11/22/22)

2. (accessed 11/22/22).

3. (accessed 11/22/22)

4. Learn more about Hybridity:

5. list subsets of this group as a people group entry, whereas only provides a broad grouping. The groups within this people cluster include; Satmar, Chabad-Lubavitch, Bobover, Vizhnitz, Skver, Belzer, Pupa, Gerer, Sanzer, and Breslov.


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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Estimated 40,000 Kurds in the United States and 16,315 Kurds in Canada

A 2019 BBC article estimated 40,000 Kurds in the United States, as did a much earlier NBC News Report. A 2009 Kurdish Herald aricle estimated 50,000 Iraqi Kurds were living in the United States. The estimates of Kurds we have found in various cities seem to coincide with the more conservative 40,000 number. However, many Kurds from Turkey mix into the Turkish population and are harder to identify. Statistics Canada 2016 estimated 16,315 people in Canada had a Kurdish Ethnic Origin.

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Between 275,000 and 350,000 Turks living in North America

The Turkish Coalition of America gives a conservative community estimate of 350,000 Turks in the United States. According to American Community Survey 2019, 212,489 Turkish people were estimated to live in the United States. Statistics Canada 2016 reported 63,966 with a Turkish ethnic origin.


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Pakistan makes up the largest single country of origin of Muslims in North America, with 769,000. 554,000 (2019 ACS) reside in the United States and 215,000 (2016 Census) in Canada.

Statistically, it is estimated that 370,000 Indo-Pak Muslims in North America originated of Indian descent. 270,000 reside in the United States and 100,000 reside in Canada. A Pew Research study found that 10% of Indian descent in North America identify as Muslim. It is by using this 10% and total Indian population numbers that the Indo-Pak Muslims from India are calculated.

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Estimated 66,000 Wolof in the United States

According to ACS and the Senegalese-American Association estimates listed in articles in previous years, it is safe to assume there are at least 60,000 Wolof in North America. The previous population and community estimates within NYC have listed the Wolof population around 20,000 not including the Wolof that live in Chicago, Seattle, Raleigh, Montreal, etc. Information from lists the population around 66,000. 

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Approximately 972,000 Gujaratis call North America home

20% of all Indians in the United States are from Gujarat state. According to the 2019 5-yr table ACS Census Data, there are 4,240,466 Indians in the United States. Statistically, there are approximately 848,093 Gujaratis in the United States. The 2016 Candian Census indicates that 124,030 speak Gujarati in the home. 

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The U.S. Census American Community Survey 2019 estimated 3,995,755 people with Asian Indian ancestry in the U.S. Pew Research indicates that 36% of all Indian descent population in the U.S. identify as Hindi. Therefore the estimate of Asian Indians who identify as Hindi is 1,438,472. Statistics Canada 2016 counted 433,365 Hindi Knowledge of Language in Canada. Using census information instead of community estimates helps compare populations of people groups in various cities. However, the population is likely more extensive than this number.

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approximately 67,000

According to the American Community Survey 2019, 65,126 Uzbek people are estimated to live in the United States. Statistics Canada 2016 reported 1715 with an Uzbek ethnic origin.

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There are 132,477 people estimated to be born in Israel living in the United States (ACS 2019) and 21,155 in Canada (Stats Canada 2011; the 2016 count seriously undercounted Jewish populations). Community estimates are often much higher than these official census counts.

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Statistics Canada 2016 counted 103,940 people whose ethnic origin was Morocco. The 2019 American Community Survey counted 83,842 people born in Morocco and 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 150,000 Moroccan Arabs in North America. 

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The 2019 ACS 1-year estimates report over 249,000 individuals of Iraqi descent in the United States, and over 70,000 people reported Iraqi origin according to the 2016 Statistics Canada. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the exact number of Iraqi-Americans. Actual numbers are likely much higher. 

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50,000 Tunisian Arabs

Statistics Canada 2016 counted 25,645 people whose ethnic origin was Tunisian. The 2019 American Community Survey does not count Tunisians.  Based on this article published in a Tunisian magazine, the number of Tunisians living in North America in 2016 was 44,195. We assume that the number has increased since then and approximate the number of Tunisian Arabs living in North America to be around 50,000.

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The United States has a population of 168,000 Palestinian Arabs while Canada has a 44,800 strong Palestinian Arab population.

The 2019 American Community Survey counted 139,398 people of Palestinian ancestry. A report by the Arab American Institute showed that the Arab populations in the US are undercounted by 179.56% and approximately 67% are Muslim resulting in approximately 168,000 living in the US. Statistics Canada 2016 counted 44,820 people whose ethnic origin was Palestinian. 

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280,000 Thai in North America

Statistics Canada 2016 counted 19,010 people whose ethnic origin was Thai. The 2019 American Community Survey counted 260,820 people born in Thailand and now living in the United States. Counting U.S.-born children and typical undercounts of Thai in the census, it is possible that there are over 400,000 Thai in North America. This Pew Research article estimates 343,000 Thai in the US as of 2019. 

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245,00Arabs of Egyptian origin in North America

According to the Arab American Institute Foundation, Arab populations are undercounted by 79 percent in the United States. According to Pew Research approximately 40% of Epyptians in the US are Muslim. Approximately 44% of Canadian Egyptians are Muslims. These percentages and the total Arab population from the American Community Survey 2019 1-year estimates and 2016 Statistics Canada provide the most accurate estimate while excluding Egyptian Coptics. There are approximately 201,000 Egyptian Arabs in the US and 44,000 in Canada.

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nearly 600,000

Statistics Canada 2016 counted 210,405 people whose ethnic origin was Iranian. The 2019 American Community Survey counted 385,473 people of ethnic Persians living in the United States. Using census information instead of community estimates helps compare populations of people groups in various cities. However, the p is likely larger than the number given.

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