UPGs in the USA- Every Nation, Tribe, and Tongue… Right Next Door!

After high school I went overseas to work with tribal people. It was absolutely mind blowing what God was doing in the tribal communities. My heart is still for tribal and indigenous people, BUT God showed me something very interesting one day in Perth, Western Australia, a city of 2 million people.

I sat with a high school aged girl in the middle of downtown Perth, where churches of any and every denomination could be found on any street corner. As I chatted with her about Jesus, her eyes were blank and confused. Finally I asked “do you know about Jesus?” She shook her head with an expression that said “ummmm of course not” as if I had just asked if she knew the name of my second cousin.

We talked about the Gospel- the story of how God created her for the purpose of loving and being loved by Him. We talked about how Jesus died and rose again from the dead to bring her freedom and relationship with Him. Then we prayed together and, through tears, she realised her value and worth and decided to follow Jesus.

It was such a miraculous moment for both her and I, because my ignorance was shattered that day. I realised that this teenager, in the middle of a technologically advanced city which had every version and translation of the Bible available, still had no idea who this Jesus guy is and needed someone to tell her.

There are people all around us who need the love and truth of Jesus; and we dont have to get on a plane to find those people.

In Your Own Backyard

There are so many of the worlds cultures, nations, languages, and UPGs (unreached people groups) represented within western countries and especially within America!

No fear of air travel or lack of finances can excuse us from the fact that there are 97 unreached people groups in America. From refugee camps to college campuses to big cities, we are surrounded by the mission field. I have some stats and information about some of these people groups below! This website was very interesting to explore. Check it out to see if there are any communities of UPGs in your city.

Little Kurdistan

Nashville Tennessee has the largest Kurdish community in the U.S.. There are 15-20 thousand Kurdish people living in the country music capital, aka “Little Kurdistan”. Many of the people I met while in the Middle East had family members living in California or other parts of the U.S..

There are refugees from the Middle East and Africa all over the U.S., even up here in Idaho. Boise is a major resettlement city with communities of refugees all over the area.

Islam is the third largest religion in America with 2.5 million people considering themselves Muslim.


The second largest Jewish community in the world is right here on U.S. soil. New York is home to a massive community of Orthodox Jews who live adherent to their own cultural beliefs and traditions. This community is over 1 million strong!


Within the U.S. there are over one million Hindi people, of which, only 2% have decided to follow Jesus!

People with Disabilities

Only 5-10% of people with disabilities have been effectively reached for the Gospel. Joni Erikson Tada, a quadriplegic painter and follower of Jesus, says that the disabled community around the world is the largest unreached people group. They often are overlooked and feel unwelcome in churches and among the body of Christ because of their differences.

College Students

While not what you would usually think of as an “unreached people group”, the young people of our nation are deeply in need of Jesus. A Lifeway research study found that 70% of Christian youth leave their faith in college. That is a heart breaking statistic that we need to do something about!

Mis-reached People Groups

There are also many people groups considered “reached” for the Gospel. The Australian Aboriginal tribes and the Native American tribes are a couple. There are churches, Bible translations in native languages, pastors, conferences… and praise God for that! But it’s not until you walk into Aboriginal communities and see the hopelessness, suicide, abuse, addiction, and poverty that you realise, while they may be technically “reached”, the kingdom is not reigning there.

We are called to make disciples who obey what Jesus has commanded, not just to make His word accessible and move on. Making disciples takes investment, time, and sacrifice that not many people are willing to give. If you are interested in learning how, contact me and let me know! I’d love to show you the tools that can equip you to share the Gospel effectively and make disciples.

What we don’t realise is that the way many people groups have been “reached” with the Gospel is through force or deception. Aboriginal children were taken forcefully from their parents and made to be “more white” in an attempt to “better their quality of life”. The Catholic Church, driven by Darwin’s teachings and government support, was one of the major forces behind this.

I have personally spoken with a man who is a part of this Stolen Generation. He was forcefully taken by Catholic missionaries and I cannot even write down the traumatic things he suffered at the hands of people who claimed to follow Jesus. He now is an old man who hates God and Christians because of what he went through.

Mis-reached people groups have had a false version of God demonstrated to them. They have seen God to be hatful, deceptive, abusive, racist, and just plain evil because thats how the people who claimed to follow Him acted! This is why alot of tribal people consider Jesus “the white man’s God”.

Churches, families, and entire cities across America and across the world are filled with mis-reached people. We need disciple making movements in America that celebrate our cultures and differences. People need to know who God really is: good, loving, victorious, intimate, forgiving, empowering, ALIVE.

Aboriginal elders singing hymns in church

The Best “Mission”: LOVE

If you follow Jesus, you have a hope that needs to be shared, and you dont need to step foot outside the country to do that. Contact me for more information and training opportunities, but the greatest way to reach those who are hurting is LOVE.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:35

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

God bless and have a g’day y’all!


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