Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cities: quick facts





Consider these numbers and projections:

-- In China, 200 million people (the equivalent of two-thirds of the U.S. population) have migrated from the countryside to cities over the last 10 years.

-- Every second, two people move from rural areas to cities.

-- Half of all Asians and Africans will live in cities by 2030.

-- The number of squatters living in urban slums and "shadow cities" will double to 2 billion within a generation.
The movement of humanity into cities might never reverse. According to demographic forecasters, we face an "urban future," with all its challenges and opportunities.

"As recently as the early 20th century, the vast majority of the world's people lived in the countryside and practiced subsistence farming," writes Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute. "By 2005, the world's urban population of 3.18 billion people constituted 49 percent of the total (global) population of 6.46 billion."

The 50-percent mark has now been passed, marking "a significant milestone on the long road of civilization."

How will cities – even in developed countries – find or produce sufficient food, water, housing, energy, jobs, healthcare, education and infrastructure for so many people? Government, business and community leaders are looking for answers to that question with increasing urgency. The increasingly urgent question for missions: How will so many city dwellers hear the Gospel?

Simply locating and identifying them – and their myriad communities and subcultures – is becoming a daunting challenge. Sometimes they maintain distinct, separate communities. Sometimes they mingle and form new groups. Either way, such groupings may multiply into millions of members, each subgroup struggling to gain and maintain its place in society.

"We look at the city and wonder what it will take to change its heartbeat – one that doesn't pulse for Jesus," says a Christian worker in urban India. "We know that God's desire is that all people bow at His feet in worship, but we see people daily bowing instead before almost anything else .... This city is our passion. Pray that God will change unbelieving hearts -– miraculously, contagiously."
A mission strategist adds:
"We need to receive this gift [migration to the cities] that God has set before us and use it to take the Gospel to the mass of people in the cities around the world," says a mission strategist. "For so long, life in the rural world has shaped our missions efforts. Now we live in an urban world and our methods to reach people must change. We must love the city as God does."

How, specifically, do we do that?

3 comments:

Sue said...

For years, mission field workers left the cities and towns and traveled to the villages to work. Having lived in a South Asian megacity, we certainly understand the complexity of a large city. It is so overwhelming for some workers to stay within the city limits to do their ministries. The villages are smaller and the atmosphere conducive to intimate witnessing. The cities pose a whole different approach, and it won’t always be a pleasant task to do God’s work . However, mission agencies need to get on board and assign personnel to the urban settings that are desperate for Christian influence. We have several friends who are leaving language school and will be assigned to urban mobilization in December and that is encouraging.

Sue

Caz153 said...

2 billion people in the world already live on under 2 dollars day and the majority of the world is urban. If collected together, that would make the urban slum dwellers the largest unreached people group on the face of the earth and yet one of the most unengaged. so what do we do with that information? Personally, I don't believe urban slum dwellers will be reached form the outside. Kagawa Toyohiko, the Japanese missionary, realized decades ago that the poor slum dwellers would never accept something offered by the wealthy and respectable people who came across the river, dispensed their charitable gospel, and then returned home. A church tended in the slums had to be tended to day and night. In order to reach the urban slum dwellers, I believe it will require radical relocation. We must live incarnationally among to poor. To borrow a phrase my my friend Craig Greenfield, “When Jesus moved from the most exclusive gated community in the universe to the worst ghetto in the world...” he sets an example for us in how to reach the least, the last, and the lost. I believe we must be willing to follow Jesus' example of sacrifice for the sake of the lost. We must live among them and share their struggles.
Again, following the example of Christ who not only preached, but fed people, healed people, and cast out demons, we must address not only their spiritual needs but their wholistic needs. And this must not be done with ulterior motives. People can tell when they are being manipulated. And that is not loving. We must love people enough to, like God, respect their decisions. This in no way means we do not share the good news with them. If we live with these people and truly love them, then it would be unthinkable that we give them bread and not the Bread of Life. That also is not loving. My point is that we must recognize the wholistic nature of the gospel, particularly when dealing with people who do not separate life into sacred and secular arenas and, if we wish to reach the slum dwellers (the exact place I think Jesus would start based on his inauguration speech of Luke 4:18-19), we will have to, like Jesus “move into the neighborhood” (John 1:14 The Message)

Caz153 said...

2 billion people in the world already live on under 2 dollars day and the majority of the world is urban. If collected together, that would make the urban slum dwellers the largest unreached people group on the face of the earth and yet one of the most unengaged. So what do we do with that? Personally, I don't believe urban slum dwellers will be reached form the outside. Kagawa Toyohiko, the Japanese missionary, realized decades ago that the poor slum dwellers would never accept something offered by the wealthy and respectable people who came across the river, dispensed their charitable gospel, and then returned home. A church tended in the slums had to be tended to day and night. In order to reach the urban slum dwellers, I believe it will require radical relocation. We must live incarnationally among to poor. To borrow a phrase my my friend Craig Greenfield, “When Jesus moved from the most exclusive gated community in the universe to the worst ghetto in the world...” he sets an example for us in how to reach the least, the last and the lost. I believe we must be willing to follow Jesus' example of sacrifice for the sake of the lost. We must live among them and share their struggles.
Again, following the example of Christ who not only preached, but fed people, healed people, and cast out demons, we must address not only their spiritual needs but their wholistic needs. And this must not be done with ulterior motives. People can tell when they are being manipulated. And that is not loving. We must love people enough to, like God, respect their decisions. This in no way means we do not try to share the Good News with them. If we live with these people and truly love them, then it would be unthinkable that we give them bread and not the Bread of Life. That also is not loving. My point is that we must recognize the wholistic nature of the gospel, particularly when dealing with people who do not separate life into sacred and secular arenas and, if we wish to reach the slum dwellers (the exact place I think Jesus would start based on his inauguration speech of Luke 4:18-19) , we will have to, like Jesus “move into the neighborhood” (John 1:14 The Message)