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Sermon No: 2667-The Great Commission - Part3b - Global trends (cont)



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SERMON TOPIC: The Great Commission - Part3b - Global trends (cont)

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 13 September 2015

Topic Groups: MISSIONS, GREAT COMMISSION, EVANGELISM

Sermon synopsis: So what are some of the global trends we are seeing in today’s world? How do these present challenges or opportunities for us to advance and complete the Great Commission?
- Positive trends in global Christian missions
- Literacy
- The internet
- HIV / AIDS

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THE GREAT COMMISSION

Global Trends

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt 28:19-20)

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14)

We saw previously that despite Jesus’ command to evangelize, 28% of all humans have never even heard of his name. 1 39.5% of the world’s individuals are members of ethne (i.e. people groups) with no viable church. 2

So while we all look forward to the return of Jesus:

WE HAVE UNFINISHED WORK!

1 SOURCE: World Christian Encyclopedia, David Barrett, George Kurian, Todd Johnson, 2001) 2 David Barrett, Todd Johnson and Peter F. Crossing, “Status of Global Mission, 2005, in Context of 20th and 21st Centuries”.

UNFINISHED WORK

UNREACHED

An estimated 2.91 billion individuals live in the 10/ 40 Window. The area contains the overwhelming majority of the world’s least evangelized megacities - that is those with a population of more than one million. The top 50 least evangelized megacities are all in the 10/ 40 Window! 1

1 SOURCE: http:// joshuaproject.net/ resources/ articles/ 10_40_window

10/ 40 WINDOW FACTS

FALSE RELIGION OR NO RELIGION

The 10/ 40 Window contains four of the world’s dominant religious blocs. The majority of the followers of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well as the Non-Religious block live within the 10/ 40 Window. 1

1 Ibid

10/ 40 WINDOW FACTS

Source: Global Mapping International

POVERTY

The 10/ 40 Window is home to the majority of the world’s poor. Of the poorest of the poor, more than eight out of ten live in the 10/ 40 Window. On average, they exist on less than a few hundred dollars per person per year. There is a remarkable overlap between the poorest countries of the world and those that are least evangelized. 1

1 Ibid

10/ 40 WINDOW FACTS

Q: WHY IS THE WORK UNFINISHED?

WHY?

RESOURCES

Lack of resources

Uneven distribution of resources

UNBELIEVERS

Opposition from atheistic, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu governments.

CHRISTIANS

If current patterns continue, the unreached will still be 23-28% of the world’s population in 2025 (Stan Park, Ethne ’06).

So how should we approach missions and evangelism? Should we just keep on doing what we did before?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

INTRODUCTION

When Jesus sent out his 12 disciples to evangelise, he told them (Matt 10:16):

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

In other words we ought to be shrewd in our evangelisation efforts and there is a need to strategize.

So what are some of the global trends we are seeing in today’s world? How do these present challenges or opportunities for us to advance and complete the Great Commission?

Unbelievers opposition (increased persecution)

Migration

Urbanisation

Positive trends in Global Christian Missions

Literacy

The internet

HIV / AIDS

INTRODUCTION

TREND 1: INCREASED PERSECUTION

A Christian Home Burned Down by Extremists in India

Q: Which countries received the most missionaries in 2010?

MISSIONARIES RECEIVED (2010)

1 Todd M. Johnson and Kenneth R. Ross (Atlas of Global Christianity - 2009). The top 9 receiving countries were home to only 3.5% of the world’s non-Christians but received more than 34% of all international missionaries! All 9 have Christian majorities, and they were home to over 34% of the world’s Christians in 2010. They also sent almost 53% of international missionaries. 2 http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Christianity_by_country

A: The US with 32,400 sent from other nations, followed by Brazil. 1 Yet the countries with the largest Christian populations in the world are the US followed by Brazil. 2

Not all of the imbalance in missionary effort is simply disobedience or lack of strategizing on the part of Christians. Some of it is due to opposition from Atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or Animists.

Satan does not give up ground without a battle. More Christians were martyred in the 20th century (45.4 million) than in the previous 19 centuries combined (24 million). 1

5 Christian vocations have over a 3% murder rate: bishop, evangelist, catechist, 2 colporteur, 3 foreign missionary. 4

1 Source: World Christian Encyclopedia (2001) 2 A person who instructs people in preparation for admission into a church. 3 A person who travels to sell or publicize Bibles, religious tracts, etc. 4 World Evangelization Research Centre

PERSECUTION

WORLD WATCH LIST

North Korea

Somalia

Iraq

Syria

Afghanistan

Sudan

Iran

Uzbekistan

Vietnam

Central African Republic

Qatar

Kenya

Turkmenistan

Open Doors compile a World Watch List of the 50 worst countries in regards to Christian Persecution. Here are the Top 20 (highlighting the ones in Africa).

Pakistan

Eritrea

Nigeria

Maldives

Saudi Arabia

Libya

Yemen

SOURCE: https:// www.opendoorsusa.org/ christian-persecution/ world-watch-list/

OPEN DOORS WORLD WATCH LIST

According to World Watch Monitor:

4,344 Christians were “killed for faith-related reasons” in 2014, which is “more than double the 2,123 killed in 2013, and more than triple the 1,201 killed the year before that”.

The largest number of deaths occurred in Nigeria (2,484), the Central African Republic (1,088), Syria (271), Kenya (119) and North Korea (100).

1,062 churches were “attacked for faith-related reasons” in 2014. The majority of attacks took place in 5 countries: China (258 churches), Vietnam (116), Nigeria (108), Syria (107), and the Central African Republic (100).

PERSECUTION

According to Open Doors, the 3 main drivers behind Christian persecution in Africa and worldwide are:

Islamic extremism: this was the main driver in 40 of the 50 countries on the 2015 watch list, including 18 of the top 20 countries.

Dictatorial paranoia: or “where leaders seek to control religious expression,” note Open Doors. “It is the main persecution engine in 10 countries, including North Korea, and shows up as a secondary persecution engine in 16 more countries.”

Organized corruption: the main driver of persecution in Colombia and Mexico.

PERSECUTION

Restricted Access (Unevangelized): There are 38 closed countries in the “unevangelized” world, meaning that foreign evangelicals have either restricted or no access to enter. This includes 85 anti-Christian megacities. 1

Restricted Access (Evangelized): There are 31 closed/ restricted-access countries in the “evangelized non-Christian” world, including 180 non-Christian megacities. 1

Closing Doors: At the annual ratio of 4 to 3, more countries are newly closed to foreign missionaries than are newly opened to them.

1 David B. Barrett & Todd M. Johnson in “World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000”

CLOSED TO MISSIONARIES

Countries with the highest percentage of unreached tend to be the most closed to Christianity. 91% of those least-reached live in areas that restrict Christian witness. 1

200 years ago you could go to virtually any country in the world as a missionary if you had the call of God, the courage, and the financial support.

The missionary movement that began in the 18th and 19th centuries was indeed a sovereign move by the God. But things have changed. The countries where foreign missionaries first went, like India, Burma and China, are all closed to foreign missionaries today. We now have to reconsider modern missionary methods in order to see if what worked previously is still relevant today.

1 http:// globaldisciples.org/ wp-content/ uploads/ 2013/ 11/ Pray-For-The-Least-Reached-Web.pdf

CLOSED TO MISSIONARIES

More than 60% of the world’s population lives in countries closed to Christian missionaries from North America. 1

These include countries which are predominantly Muslim, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu and Animist.

Just India and China alone make up 1/ 3 of the world’s population and are in the region where we find the majority of the world’s unreached people groups.

So what is the answer to evangelism in these countries? Is there a more effective strategy which needs consideration?

1 http:// www.aboutmissions.org/ statistics.html

CLOSED TO MISSIONARIES

Following the 1949 takeover by the Communist Party of China, Catholic and Protestant missionaries were expelled from the country, and Christianity was vilified as a manifestation of western imperialism. 1

150 years of missionary work ended when the 5,600 missionaries left. Westerners feared that the estimated 750,000 Christians would not survive the harsh rule and persecution of the atheistic government determined to exterminate believers. Yet instead, 60 years later, the number of Christians has grown to more than 100 million, with estimates of between 20,000-30,000 people a day being converted. This dramatic growth is a result of the indigenous Chinese Christians evangelising locally.

1 http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Roman_Catholicism_in_China

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

An article on the “Global Opportunities for Christ” website makes the following case for indigenous missionaries:

This story has repeated itself in almost every country where foreigners went to colonize. Foreign missionaries introduced the gospel, but then exponential growth took place in the church when national workers began to bear the responsibility of reaching those in their own country. Christianity does not thrive as long as it is perceived as a ‘foreign’ religion. Indigenous Christians who speak the language of the people, know the culture, live life-styles consistent with their countrymen (as opposed to the much higher standard of living enjoyed by most foreign missionaries) are much better suited to reach their own people and are far more effective in doing so. 1

1 http:// www.goforchrist.org/ history_of_missions

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

Mission-minded Christians need to adopt a mission strategy that is relevant in the modern world.

What, then, is the best way for mission-minded Christians in western nations to help reach the remaining unreached people of the world? 1

Since two-thirds of the ‘unreached’ live in countries that are not accessible to American missionaries, the best strategy is to find the national Christians that God is using in places where we can’t go. We can begin praying for them and then partnering financially with those who have access to the people we can’t reach. 1

1 Ibid

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

Indigenous missionaries do 90% of pioneer mission work, but only receive 10% of mission funding. Meanwhile foreign missionaries do 10% of pioneer mission work, but receive 90% of mission funding. 1

The typical cost to send an American family overseas is around $75,000-$100,000 a year. Yet in a majority of the poorer countries around the world, indigenous workers require only $3,000-$6,000 annually. 2

Wouldn’t it make more sense to re-direct our resources to support 25-30 indigenous workers for the same amount it takes for one American family to go? 2

1 http:// www.goforchrist.org/ history_of_missions

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

Consider Turkey, which contains the city of Antioch (Antakya) where believers were first called Christians. Turkey was the Roman province of Asia where Paul did much of his initial missionary work, and it was the home of the 7 churches in Revelation. The NT contains several epistles by Paul to the churches in this area (Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon).

Turkey has a population of 77,695,904 (2014 census) with 99.8% of people being registered as Muslim. 1

The country is one of the least evangelized countries in the Middle East.

1 http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Turkey#Religion

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

Turkey has a smaller Christian percentage of its population than any of its neighbours, including Syria, Iraq and even Iran, due to the Assyrian Genocide, Armenian Genocide and Greek Genocide during and after WWI, and the subsequent large scale population transfers of Turkey’s Christian population, most notably Greece, and the forced exodus of indigenous Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and Georgians upon the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. This was followed by the continued emigration of most of the remaining indigenous Christians over the next century. During the tumultuous period of WWI and founding of the Turkish republic, up to 3 million indigenous Christians are alleged to have been killed. Prior to this, the Christian population stood at around 20% of the total. 1

1 SOURCE: http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Christianity_in_Turkey

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

There are more than 1,500 foreign missionaries in Turkey. Most are still involved in getting acquainted with the new culture and taking language courses. 1

The normal time it takes for adequate language acquisition in order to become semi-fluent and able to really communicate the gospel and get familiar with the Scriptures is about four years. But the fact is that about half the mission-force turns over every year. Most people last about a year or two and then go home, having never mastered the language and with no fruit to show for it. 1 Using conservative figures of $40,000 per missionary, that’s roughly $60 million a year being spent on mission work in Turkey and the number of indigenous believers is barely experiencing any growth! 1

1 SOURCE: http:// www.goforchrist.org/ history_of_missions

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

The leadership within the small indigenous church is frustrated with all the foreigners. Most pastors in the Turkish churches are poor. They not only have their responsibilities in the church, but many are working two or three jobs just to earn a living. They have a vision to reach their own people, but lack resources. 1

This is not by any means an attempt to undermine the good work done by many foreign missionaries, but as Paul R. Gupta and Sherwood G. Lingenfelter state, “While there may still be a significant place for the well trained, western, cross-cultural church planter, the growing edge of mission today is strategic partnership, coming alongside the national church and mission task force, and working together to reach the unreached.”

1 Ibid

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

“There was a time when Western missionaries needed to go into these countries where the Gospel was not preached. But now a new era has begun, and it is important that we officially acknowledge this. God has raised up indigenous leaders who are more capable than outsiders to finish the job.” – K.P. Yohannan

“With the explosion of the church in the Southern Hemisphere, we must ask, does the church of the Lord Jesus Christ still need the western, denominational career missionary? Since this model of service is 200 years old, have we not come to a stage where we need to ask ‘How does God want us to serve the church in the present context?’ ” - Paul R. Gupta and Sherwood G. Lingenfelter

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

According to K.P. Yohannan in “Come Let’s Reach the World”:

86 countries prohibit or restrict Western missionaries.

There are around 285,000 indigenous (aka national, native, home) missionaries serving in the world. They make up 2/ 3 of the world’s missionary force.

The average Western missionary spends only 3% of his time involved in direct evangelism.

Only 10 to 33% of Western missionaries are involved in evangelism and church planting.

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

In 1998, 450,000 short-term missionaries were sent out from North America. 1

Up to 1/ 2 of all new missionaries do not last beyond their first term on the mission field. 1

Only 1/ 4 of North American cross-cultural missionaries are involved in evangelism activities (such as preaching, translation, church planting, and teaching), while 3/ 4 are involved in administration and support work (such as agriculture, aviation, community development, literacy, medicine, and relief efforts). 1

1 K.P. Yohannan, “Come Let’s Reach the World”

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

There are over 3,000 indigenous mission boards in India that have a combined total of 100,000 missionaries. 1

One indigenous ministry surveyed the believers in the churches they planted and found that 80% had come to faith in Christ because they had seen a miraculous act of God or experienced an answer to prayer. 2

That same indigenous ministry holds that their average missionary will plant 3 churches within the first 5 years on the field. 2

The US church is now supporting far more indigenous workers than American missionaries. The more effective strategy is to send more money than missionaries. 3

1 Finley 2004, 47 2 Chacko 2008, 138 3 http:// joshuaproject.net/ resources/ powerpoints

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

Is there a Biblical precedent for indigenous missionaries?

In the book of Acts, Paul was often driven out of churches within weeks of having planted them. In all cases the work was continued by the new indigenous Christians he left behind. (e.g. Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea).

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

After Jesus heals the demoniac in the region of the Gerasenes, the local people asked him to leave the area.

Mark 5:18-19 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said:

Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

Mark 5:20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

The former demoniac could not have told his family very much. His knowledge of the Scripture was most likely extremely limited. His message was probably very simple: “I once was in bondage to sin. I met Jesus and everything changed. He can do the same for you.”

So in an area where Jesus was forbidden to operate, he used an indigenous missionary to do the work. And the former demoniac evangelised the Decapolis, which was a term for “ten cities”. Today we might think him poorly equipped for such a task, but Jesus chose him for the job.

South Africa has the second largest GDP in Africa (after Nigeria) and one of the highest GDP’s per capita on the continent. God has blessed many South Africans with resources and a standard of living far higher than that of Christians in the least evangelized, poorer countries of the world.

In many cases, by staying in our own country and keeping our jobs, but sending a portion of our surplus to support indigenous missionaries, great things can be accomplished to further the cause of the gospel!

INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES

TREND 2: MIGRATION

Migration (human) is the movement of people from one place in the world to another for the purpose of taking up permanent or semi permanent residence, usually across a political boundary.

We are becoming increasingly migratory. According to the Traveling Team:

22 million internationals visit the US each year. Of these, some 630,000 are university students from 220 countries, 25% of which prohibit Christian missionaries. 80% of those students will return to their countries having never been invited to an American home.

40% of the world’s 220 Heads of State once studied in the US.

MIGRATORY

About 13,8 million foreigners arrived in South Africa in 2012 and 11,5 million left the country. 1

The overall pattern observed is that throughout the 13 year period from 2000 to 2012, there were more arrivals than departures in the country. 1

74,5% came in by road (Lesotho - 31,7%, Zimbabwe -27,4%). 25,2% flew in, mainly through OR Tambo international airport. 0,3% came in by sea. 1

The main purpose of visit for foreign arrivals was holiday (88,2%), business 216 616 (1,6%), workers (2,5%) and students (0,7%). 1

1 http:// www.statssa.gov.za/ publications/ Report-03-51-02/ Report-03-51-022012.pdf

MIGRATORY

FOREIGN TRAVELLERS

1 Ibid

In South Africa the 8 leading countries for overseas tourists in 2012 were: UK [438,023]; USA [326,644]; Germany [266,333]; China [132,327]; France [122,244]; Australia [120,315]; The Netherlands [117,936] and India [106,774]. 1

The 8 leading countries from SADC region: Zimbabwe [1,847,973]; Lesotho [1,618,222]; Mozambique [1,104,404]; Swaziland [768,728]; Botswana [452,159]; Namibia [200,841]; Zambia [169,555] and Malawi [142,063]. 1

The 8 leading countries from ‘other’ African countries: Nigeria [73,282]; Kenya [32,992]; Ghana [22,953]; Uganda [15,522]; Ethiopia [7,862]; Egypt [7,308]; Gabon [7,168] and Cameroon [6,234]. 1

1 http:// www.statssa.gov.za/ publications/ Report-03-51-02/ Report-03-51-022012.pdf

OPPORTUNITY

OVERSEAS VISITORS

1 http:// www.statssa.gov.za/ publications/ Report-03-51-02/ Report-03-51-022012.pdf

SADC VISITORS

1 Ibid

OTHER AFRICAN VISITORS

1 Ibid

344,108 of arrivals were workers (migrant labour). As employment opportunities are greater in South Africa than in the rest of Africa, many people - mainly men - have moved here in search of work, leaving their families behind. This creates many social and spiritual problems.

Their illegal status means they are often solicited by the police and other officials for bribes.

They often have to work long hours and on Sundays for sub-standard wages. They have no legal recourse when they are not paid or otherwise exploited.

Separation from the family often leads to temptations to indulge in drinking and the use of prostitutes – which has caused an exponential increase in alcoholism and the spread of STD’s like HIV/ AIDS.

MIGRANT LABOUR

In South Africa, the 1998 Refugees Act established the institutions and procedures to offer protection to those fleeing persecution and instability in their home countries. This may be due to reasons of race, tribe, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. This includes people who are forced to flee their country as a result of external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events that seriously disrupt public order. 1

According to the Department of Home Affairs, at the end of 2013 approximately 230,000 asylum- seekers were awaiting a decision on their status as refugees. The total number of recognised refugees stands at around 65,000. 2

Most refugees reside in urban areas. 2

1 http:// www.unhcr.org/ pages/ 49e485aa6.html

REFUGEES IN SA

UNHCR 2015 planning figures for South Africa

Type of population

Origin

January 2015

Total in country

Of whom assisted by UNHCR

Total

315,000

63,000

Refugees

DRC

15,000

3,000

Ethiopia

9,600

1,920

Somalia

24,000

4,800

Various

20,400

4,080

Asylum-seekers

DRC

8,500

1,700

Ethiopia

4,600

920

Various

189,900

37,980

Zimbabwe

43,000

8,600

1 SOURCE: http:// www.unhcr.org/ pages/ 49e485aa6.html

REFUGEES IN SA

The 2012 UNHCR Global Trends Report claims that for the six years prior to 2012, South Africa was the “leading destination country of new asylum-seekers”.

In 2012 the US was the world’s largest recipient of new individual asylum applications, followed by Germany (64,500), South Africa (61,500), and France (55,100).

REFUGEES IN SA

Over half of the world’s 30 million refugees are Africans.

Does Jesus care about refugees?

After being born in a borrowed Middle Eastern barn,

REFUGEES

the boy Jesus also spent time as a refugee in Africa. This was after all the babies in a village were slaughtered in the earliest attempt on his life.

Recipients of temporary residence permits from the ten leading countries from the overseas region, 2013

SOURCE: http:// beta2.statssa.gov.za/ publications/ P03514/ P035142013.pdf

SOURCE: Statistics South Africa

Recipients of temporary residence permits from the ten leading countries from the Africa region, 2013

In the past you had to go to a foreign country to be a missionary to other people groups. Now many of those people groups are coming to us.

“Go into all the world” includes evangelising when the whole world comes to us e.g. the day of Pentecost.

According to the Traveling Team:

60% of international students to the US come from the 10/ 40 window.

Yet 90% of international students are unreached by ministries while in the US.

OPPORTUNITY

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

95,547 of arrivals to SA in 2012 were students. Greater emphasis can be placed on ministry to foreign students. Most travellers have a very short-term stay (3-5 days), but students can be here for months at a time.

1 http:// www.statssa.gov.za/ publications/ Report-03-51-02/ Report-03-51-022012.pdf

GLOBAL EVENTS

International sports events also present an opportunity for mission work. During the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa, the World Cup Evangelism Project was responsible for mass evangelism, using Ray Comfort’s “The Way of The Master”. Nigel Titus, an evangelist in Cape Town, and one of the project’s organisers, stated:

“Many of the Christians down here in our country wish that they could go across the borders to other countries to spread the gospel, but just due to resources we’re just not financially able to do that. We’re having people coming from all countries, tribes, tongues, nations—they’re coming to our shores. We don’t have to go over to them. So it’s an opportunity for us now to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to them.”

GLOBAL EVENTS

At the 2014 Football World Cup hosted by Brazil, about 100 evangelicals handed out 15,000 booklets on Copacabana Beach. The booklets were about the history of Brazil and soccer, but included an article by Brazilian soccer star Kaka, who says that “the true sense of victory is having Jesus in my life.” And volunteers for the Bible Society of Brazil handed out 20,000 copies of the Gospel of John in eight different languages.

TREND 3: URBANIZATION

DEFINITIONS:

Rural: relating to the countryside rather than the town.

Urban: relating to cities.

Urbanisation: the process in which the number of people living in cities increases compared with the number of people living in rural areas. 1 Cities act like gigantic magnets pulling people in from rural areas. A country is considered to be urbanised when over 50% of its population lives in urban places. 1

Urbanisation is most rapid in Third World countries, where the world’s largest cities occur. 1

1 http:// www.botany.uwc.ac.za/ envfacts/ facts/ urbanisation.htm

URBANISATION

Does God care about cities?

At least 119 cities can be found in the Biblical record. Case studies of major cities in various contexts suggest a biblical theology of ‘place’ should be included in our theological understanding, alongside that of programs and persons. 1 Let’s briefly consider, the record of how God dealt with four ur, urban centres including both righteous and unrighteous cities :

Sodom

Nineveh

Babylon

Jerusalem

1 http:// www.lausanne.org/ content/ lop/ lop-9

GOD & CITIES

Sodom: God observes and notes the behaviour of cities (Gen 18:20-21).

The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me.

There is a godly precedent for urban concern e.g. Abraham’s intercession for the city (Gen 18:23-24).

Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?

There is a relationship between the presence of godly people and the preservation of the city - ten righteous people could have spared it from destruction. (Gen 18:32)

For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.

May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?

God can distinguish the one from the many—he can distinguish the righteous Lot from the rest (as he did with Rahab in Jericho).

Seeing the subsequent behaviour of Lot’s daughters (Gen 19:30-38) we realise that an “escape theology” (i.e. remove yourself from the wicked city) is not enough to live a righteous life. The primary evil is not environmental, but personal i.e. we battle not just the evil without, but the evil within us.

Besides their documented sexual perversion recorded in Genesis, another Biblically stated reason for Sodom’s destruction is given in the following passage:

Ezekiel 16:49 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

So Sodom was a wealthy city which did not take care of her urban poor. In our modern cities today there is a great disparity between the haves and have-nots? Are we like Sodom and “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned”?

GOD & CITIES

Nineveh: Note God’s great effort expended in order to get a message and messenger to a wicked city.

Jonah 3:1-2 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:

Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.

God expresses concern for the city as a place — no names of people are mentioned. (Jonah 4:10-11)

But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?

Given the track record of Assyrian conquest, brutality and destruction, their pardon by God is a missionary story of the triumph of grace for one the most sinful cities in the ancient world. (Jonah 4:2)

O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

God accepted the repentance of Nineveh, and graciously forgave those who sought him, in spite of Jonah’s motives and obstructive conduct.

Jonah 3:10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

Babylon: This city was responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem, and the exile of the people of Judah.

But it was God himself who instructed the Israelites residing in Babylon that, in fact, he had sent them to the city.

As urban dwellers, they were to live in that culture with their families and “seek the welfare of the city … and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer 29:7).

So because of the presence and intercession of its righteous inhabitants, God’s grace was not withheld from this city, despite it’s reputation and association with evil.

GOD & CITIES

In his providence God provided choice young Hebrew men who functioned within the structures, if not the lifestyle, of the city, who go on to master and administer the empire.

Yet they still carefully separate their own faith from the pagan culture of the city.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to bow down to the pagan idol despite the law commanding it. (Daniel 3)

Daniel continues to pray to God three time a day despite the law forbidding it. (Daniel 6)

Daniel is led to understand the evil principalities who stand behind world governmental structures, but also the protecting angels (like Michael and Gabriel) which assist the righteous behind the scenes. (Dan 10:12-13)

But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.

It was the urban captivity in Babylon which prompted the compilation of the Hebrew Old Testament. A new order called the scribes arose who served the Jewish colonists in a very valuable way by preserving and teaching the Scriptures. They also produced the rabbinical literature known as the Mishna and the Gemara which were combined and developed to form the Babylonian Talmud.

And later the Hebrew diaspora in the city of Alexandria translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek (Septuagint).

GOD & CITIES

Being away from the temple led to the development of the synagogue, and these factors in turn influenced the rapid spread of Christianity in the Greek-speaking cities of the Roman world. Paul used the synagogue as the starting point for his evangelistic efforts and the widespread use of Greek meant that the Greek translation of the OT was invaluable as a missionary tool.

Jerusalem: Literally hundreds of texts in both the Old and New Testament make reference to this city.

Like other cities, Jerusalem is reviewed by God and judged according to her behaviour:

Lam 1:1 How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.

But even amidst the post-judgment ruins of the city, Jeremiah still sees the merciful hand of God giving hope.

Lam 3:21-23 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

GOD & CITIES

Jesus wept out of compassion for this city of Jerusalem he loved (Matt 23:37-39; Luke 19:41-44), when prophesying it’s future destruction.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.

The Holy Spirit enabled the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 2), to proclaim the gospel in many languages, thus reversing forever the curse of Babel and proving the gospel can transcend urban cultural diversity and linguistic pluralism.

The earthly city Jerusalem was a city set on a hill and was expected to witness of God’s salvation to all nations both by the character of her inhabitants and the quality of her institutions. Although this city’s witness fell short of that which was expected, the earthly Jerusalem points to a heavenly city which embodies in an urban place the cumulative aspirations of all peoples everywhere. Among other implications, we can assume that while urban systems and structures are under sin’s curse, they are not inherently evil per se, or beyond ultimate redemption. 1

1 Ibid

We are becoming increasingly urban. In 1900 about 8% of the world’s population lived in sizable cities.

But currently more than half (54%) of the world’s population lives in urban areas, according to the UN, with the number expected to hit 66% by 2050. 1

South Africa’s urbanisation trends are higher than that of the Southern African regional average, and far higher than that of the African continent’s average. 1

South Africa is more urbanised than rural, with 64.3% of the country’s population (34.17 million people) living in urban areas, compared to 35.7% (18.9 million) dwelling in rural areas by mid-year 2014. 1

1 http:// businesstech.co.za/ news/ international/ 62749/ sa-population-flocking-to-cities/

URBANISATION

In South Africa apartheid has made the problems of urbanisation more complex. For generations, urbanisation of black people was made difficult by forcing them to live in areas far from the main cities. 1 Those areas were known as the Homelands or Bantustans.

As employment opportunities remained in the “white” cities, many black people, mainly men, moved to the cities in search of work, leaving their families in the “homelands”. Separation of families created many social problems. In addition, pass laws made it illegal for many black people to live in the white cities. 1 Their illegal status and menial wages made it impossible for them to rent or buy a house so they often lived in a shack in someone’s backyard.

1 http:// www.botany.uwc.ac.za/ envfacts/ facts/ urbanisation.htm

URBANISATION IN SA

With the lifting of racial restrictions on where people may live and work, many unemployed people in the homelands migrated to the major South African cities in search of work, bringing their families with them. The shortage of accommodation in cities has forced them to live in shack-towns or squatter camps on open land. 1

As migrant workers do not own land they often settle or squat on vacant land owned by somebody else. Although squatter settlements are seen to arise out of desperate need, the landowners are often unhappy that squatters are living on their land. Quite often conflicts arise. 1 The government has attempted to make provision for the housing of poorer people and since 1994 has built 1,4 million houses, providing more than 5 million people with homes.

1 Ibid

URBANISATION IN SA

URBANISATION IN SA

From only around 43% (5.8 million of 13.7 million people) in 1950, South Africa’s urbanisation patterns are expected to hit 77.4% (49.1 million of a projected 63.4 million people) in 2050. 1

1 Ibid

Christians make up 33% of the global population, but 44% of all urban populations. Globally, 63% of all Christians lived in cities in 2000. 1

Because there is a higher percentage of Christians living in cities, urbanisation is actually good for evangelism and missions. In the past you had to go to the rural areas to reach the majority of the country’s population. Now many of those people groups are coming to the cities.

We have typically focused on ethnic homelands, but we need more emphasis on the unreached in non-homeland unreached cities and megacities: the diaspora. Meanwhile, we must not forget the other half of the world that does not live in cities. 1

1 SOURCE: Stan Park, Ethne ’06

OPPORTUNITY

Because of urbanisation the frontier of missions has shifted.

Most of our mission industry, most of the ministries that many of us represent, are still thinking in terms of a tribal world, a world where we cross oceans and deserts and jungles to get to the lost groups of people. There are, indeed, still about a billion people who are geographically distant from existing churches, so we will need traditional ministries on into the future. But far more than 2 billion of the world’s non-churched people are no longer geographically distant from the church, they are culturally distant. They live in the large cities of the world. 1

1 Urbanization and Evangelism: A Global View – Ray Bakke, professor of urban mission; executive director of International Urban Associates, Chicago.

OPPORTUNITY

A hundred years ago we sent the missionaries to the nations to look for the cities. Today, you go to the cities and you find the nations. 1

The British Empire once included 52 nations, but now all 52 nations live in London. 1

There are now more Muslims throughout the cities of the United Kingdom than there are Baptists and Methodists combined. 1

The churches have been recycled; many of them are now mosques or Sikh temples. 1

Mission no longer goes one way; there is a reverse mission coming back to the United Kingdom. 1

1 Urbanization and Evangelism: A Global View – Ray Bakke, professor of urban mission; executive director of International Urban Associates, Chicago.

OPPORTUNITY

Urban neighbourhoods are now infinitely more complex than tribal cultures because they are cross cultural.

Especially in South Africa, we need to be prepared to minister in a cross cultural environment.

Peter had a problem in this area and God had to give him a clear vision to get him to go to the house of the Roman centurion, Cornelius to evangelise.

And when in the cross cultural city of Antioch again he had a rebuke from Paul when he refrained from mixing with the Gentiles when his Jewish friends were present.

Paul, on the other hand was a Jew, who was born in in Roman city, and spoke Greek. As such he was extremely effective in his mission work among the Gentiles.

CHALLENGES: CROSS CULTURAL

Urban ministry has other challenges. One is work with the at-risk people groups which includes street kids, abused kids and abandoned children. They come from broken families; they are born damaged: crack addicted, HIV positive, or suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome. The damage came in some way by the sins of adults.

One study in the US suggests that only 15% of the homeless population can be helped by the traditional “soup, soap, and salvation” methodologies of rescue missions. 1

85% of the homeless population in the US are now layered with addictions, 1 and new strategies are required for evangelising these people.

1 Urbanization and Evangelism: A Global View – Ray Bakke, professor of urban mission; executive director of International Urban Associates, Chicago.

CHALLENGES: AT RISK PEOPLE

Some 80 million Chinese live outside of China. While we have been focused all these years on how to get the mission into China, but now 80 million Chinese have been scattered into cities all over the world. 1

Do you feel led to minister to the Chinese?

South Africa has the largest population of Chinese in Africa (350,000) and most of them live in Johannesburg. 2

1 Ibid 2 "http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Chinese_South_Africans

OPPORTUNITY

Modern cities are still the port-of-entry for huge, diverse migrant or immigrant populations. Virtually every world-class city fulfils this international function giving us enormous potential for ministry.

2001: Unreached Cities: 1,670 metropolises have not been reached with the good news of Jesus Christ. 2

Paul targeted major cities e.g. Rome (Italy), Athens and Corinth (Greece), Ephesus (Asia Minor), Jerusalem (Israel).

Acts 19:21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.”

2 David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000: Interpreting the Annual Christian Megacensus (2001)

OPPORTUNITY

In South Africa:

Many urban people live in closely built shacks made of packing cases, sheets of plastic and corrugated iron. Recent statistics illustrate the problem of rapid urbanisation facing South Africa. In the early 1980s there was one formal house for every 3,5 white people in South Africa, and only 1 formal house for every 43 black people. In 1989 Gauteng (the then PWV region) contained 412,000 formal houses in black townships, with 422,000 shacks in their backyards and 635,000 shacks on vacant land. The housing shortage for blacks outside of the homelands is at least 850,000. More than 7 million people throughout the country live in shacks of one kind or another. 1

1 "http:// www.botany.uwc.ac.za/ envfacts/ facts/ urbanisation.htm

CHALLENGES: POVERTY

Fewer than 1 in 500 (0.2%) of Christian foreign missionaries work in slums. 1

D.L. Moody went to a place no one else would: the notorious slums of Chicago called “the Sands”, but also known as “Little Hell”. Moody concluded that no one else cared for the souls here. It was the red-light district of the young city, filled with tumble-down shanties, saloons, and gambling halls. In time the mission he started in an abandoned saloon, drew children by the hundreds. In 1859, he secured use of North Market Hall, and established a mission Sunday school. It soon blossomed into a church from which, 6 years later, the Illinois Street Independent Church was formed. The latter was the precursor to the now famous Moody Memorial Church.

1 Todd M. Johnson and Kenneth R. Ross, eds. Atlas of Global Christianity - 2009

CHALLENGES: POVERTY

One of the greatest signs of hope in the Middle East are the 7 cave churches carved out of solid rock in Makada Mountain in a garbage dump located in Cairo, Egypt. The interconnected network of churches have the capacity for 30,000 people.

These Coptic Christian churches were created by the Zabbaleen, a community of garbage collectors who make their living collecting and recycling 15,000 tons of garbage produced by Cairo’s 17.8 million residents.

Of course it’s much easier to move into the wealthy suburbs and work with the traditional people who have always built our churches and paid our bills. But we must not deny the poor the possibility of repenting from their sins. Jesus came to preach the gospel to the poor.

OPPORTUNITY

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed… (Luke 4:18 NASB)

At the outset we asked “What are some of the global trends we are seeing?” and “How do these present opportunities for us to advance the Great Commission?”

Unbelievers opposition: Persecution has increased and missionaries are restricted from entering many countries: TRAIN AND SUPPORT MORE INDIGENOUS MISSIONARIES.

Migration: People from unevangelised countries are coming to us: SO EVANGELISE THEM.

Urbanisation: God is bringing the rural people to us in the cities: SO EVANGELISE THEM.

CONCLUSION

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)




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