UPGs and UUPGs: Simplifying the Conversation

Let’s talk about the terms “UPG” and “UUPG”.  These terms confuse even my smartest friends! 

This YouTube video explains more…

Complicated words aren’t always helpful. They suggest that only professionals can come up with solutions. Let’s try to simplify it. 

Definitions of PG, UPG, UUPG

· A People Group (PG) is a group of individuals with the same history, language, beliefs, and culture.

· An Unreached People Group (UPG) is a people group that has the Good News but it’s not spread to most of the people. In an unreached people group the message is like a small seed. It tries to survive among rocks, thorns, and predators (Matthew 13:1-9). People from outside the culture help keep the message alive until it takes root and grows.

· An Unengaged, Unreached People Group (UUPG) is a group of people who have not yet heard about Jesus. God’s people have not yet gone to them. We find a UUPG is both unreached and unengaged. Getting to this people group may be hard for different reasons. There may be physical, political, cultural, or religious obstacles. Followers of Jesus are sometimes unaware that these groups exist.

· A Reached People Group refers to members of a people group who hear and accept the message of the gospel. They retell this truth to others in their own group.  Small groups of new believers form. Believers are baptized, study the scriptures, and tell others about Jesus. We say a people group is “reached,” when the truth of Jesus grows without outside help.

Pursuing the Unreached and Unengaged (UPGs and UUPGs) in the Forest

Keku, my friend from Myanmar, told me about a village in the jungle. Her husband thought the people in this village had never met a follower of Jesus. Keku, her husband, and another couple went to find this isolated clan.

The two couples walked for hours in the forest. Suddenly, they heard gunfire. They quickly dropped to the ground and began singing and praying out loud. They were not afraid. God was sending them there. After a few hours, there was a short break in the shooting. The four stood up and continued walking towards the village.

The villagers were curious and gathered around them. The guests sounded odd, but the clan members understood them. My friends learned that the villagers offered sacrifices to their ancestors’ spirits. They shared with them about the Creator God and his son, Jesus whom they worshiped.

After three days some villagers were ready to accept this God. His Spirit was stronger than the spirits they worshiped and He was good! Other villagers were afraid of angering their ancestors’ spirits. They asked the strangers to return to share more.

The four friends realized they would need several trips back to the village to teach. The villagers were oral learners. Storytelling would be key in discipling the clan members.

Keku, you and your friends have eleven children you left behind. You are walking through conflict zones.” I asked, “Weren’t you concerned about the risks to your children if something happened to you?” She responded, “No. We are more concerned about our kids thinking that Jesus isn’t worth risking our lives for.

Questions to Reflect on:

1. Certain groups of people do not know about Jesus because the path to reach them is hostile.  Can you think of any people groups like this where you live?

2. Consider the story above and the meaning of the term unreached. Is this people group still “unreached?” What could be done to reach them?

3.  My friend, Keku, gave an encouraging testimony. Which parts of her story do you think are most important?

Talk about the UPG and UUPG definitions and this story with your family, team, or a group of friends.  Pray together for the unreached and unengaged groups you know about. 

14 thoughts on “UPGs and UUPGs: Simplifying the Conversation”

  1. The teaching was illuminating and it brought clarity and UPG (Unreached People) and UUPG unengaged Unreached People Groups. Thank you

    1. Thank you James. Your feedback is helpful. May the Lord guide you as you find unreached and unengaged peoples to pray for.

  2. George Monday Teeh

    This is awesome, I have learned from this articles. as missionary this is very good for me, will love to get series of lectures like this as I study with DMM Frontier missions.
    Thank you🙏

  3. You will never. miss your reward for what God is using you to do in the body of Christ. I am encourage the more by this message Remain Blessed.

    1. Yes. They are an amazing example for me when I am measuring risks instead of moving forward in confidence.

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