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Unreached People Groups

Praying Through 10/40

The real source of hope in missions is not the statistics of man, but the promise of God.
 |  Dale Money  |  Unreached

The Five World Belief Systems

The 10/40 Window is an invisible rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and parts of the former Soviet Union. It is located approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. Sadly, this needy part of the world is often referred to as the “Resistant Belt” of the Gospel. This region of the world is crowded with two-thirds of the world’s population. Most of the poorest people in the world can be found there. Many live on less than $2.00 a day and have little money for food or health care. Life expectancy is lower than in many other parts of the world. However, the most disturbing statistic about this part of the world is that many people groups there have little or no opportunity to learn about the true God.

Within this “window” is the largest concentration of the world’s major belief systems: Tribal (Animism), Hinduism, the Unreligious, Islam, and Buddhism. These false belief systems can serve as barriers to spreading the Gospel. As we consider the 10/40 Window, there are some significant facts that should shape our burden and fuel our prayers.


THUMB is an acronym for the major non-Christian religious belief systems found in the 10/40 Window. Imagine a hand. Start with the thumb. Each of the five fingers stands for one religious bloc. The first letter of each can be combined to spell the word THUMB. See the hand below.



Tribal peoples often live in isolated areas like jungles or mountain villages. Although they believe in a creator who made the world, they do not believe that he can be known in a personal way or that he is interested in the everyday lives of human beings. Tribal peoples are animists, believing that powerful spirits indwell objects in nature like trees, rocks, water, mountains, and animals. These spirits have control over what happens in people’s daily lives. Some tribal groups believe that the spirits of their dead ancestors also influence their lives. Tribal peoples often wear amulets or charms to protect themselves from evil spirits. Tribal groups live in constant fear of making the spirits angry and spend their lives providing gifts and sacrifices to appease them. Pray that Tribal people could break out of their fear cycle and that they would see the truth of the one final sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.


Hindus believe in millions of gods, both good and evil. They worship idols at the temple or at a special shrine set up in their house. They give these idols offerings of flowers, food, incense, money, and even hair. Through praying, visiting temples, and offering gifts to the “gods,” Hindus believe they can make their hearts clean. Hindus believe in reincarnation, a continuous cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. According to Hindu beliefs, a person’s actions in his present life will determine the quality of his next life. Hindus hope to break the cycle of reincarnation and achieve a state of peace. Pray for Hindus to understand that Jesus died on the cross to free them from the power and penalty of sin; pray they would see that Jesus is unique, not just another god among the millions.


The unreligious are people who live in an official atheist state, whose government denies the existence of God and where all religion is denounced. Government leaders are regarded as near deity. Schools in many atheistic countries teach children that God is a myth and that people who believe in God are weak or foolish. Children are encouraged to trust in their education for wisdom, leaning on their own hard work and intelligence to ensure a good future. One of the greatest strongholds of the Atheist government on a slave-like society is a ban on printing any form of religious materials. Pray that the Unreligious would understand that God created them, loves them, and desires them to look to Him as their source of wisdom, provision, security, and hope.


Muslims believe that Jesus was a good prophet, but not the Son of God. They do not believe that Jesus died on the cross or was raised back to life; in fact, they believe that Jesus found a replacement to die on the cross. Their belief is that the prophet Mohammad is the greatest and final prophet. Muslims try to please God (Allah) by their actions. They believe they can earn their way to heaven by doing more good things than bad, but even then, they cannot be sure that Allah will accept them. Pray that Muslims will understand that Jesus has already made a way for their hearts to become right before God. They need to have the hope of eternal life that God provides.


Buddhists follow the teachings of “the Buddha,” a man who lived 2,500 years ago. They do not believe in a God who is separate and different from mankind, but that every person contains a part of God within himself. According to Buddhist teachings, all suffering comes from selfish desires, wanting what we cannot have or wanting things that are bad for us. Buddhists think they can learn to be good by following a set of rules for acting, thinking, and feeling. Because it takes many lifetimes to remove evil desires, Buddhists believe that they are reincarnated after death, but here on earth they strive to reach the ultimate state of peaceful existence, called nirvana. Pray for Buddhists to comprehend that true and lasting peace comes only from a relationship with Jesus, the one who forgives sin and breaks the power that sin holds over us.

In contemplating the enormity of the strongholds of the 10/40 Window, we could be overwhelmed by the walls of these belief systems. However, let us remember the real source of hope in missions is not the statistics of man, but the promise of God. Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

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