Cities of the World

May 15, 2008 at 11:02 am (Uncategorized)

CITIES OF THE WORLD:

THE NEXT10/40 WINDOW

As many of you know, I’m not much for statistics. I’m one of those right-brained people. (Numbers, what?) But these particular numbers make me stop and really think:

● 3 billion people– half the world’s population– live in cities
● 2/3 of all people will live in cities by 2050 (in 1050 only 30% of the world was urban)
● Almost 180,000 people move into cities each day
● 60 million people move into cities each year in developing countries
● Over the next 15 years, many cities in Africa and Asia will double in size

We often hear of the need in the 10/40 window. (That is, the nations between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator.) Nations spanning from North Africa to China have been (and continue to be) in desperate need for Gospel proclamation. And praise God, He has been drawing people from all of these nations to Himself. The Joshua Fund reports over 10,000 Afghan followers of Christ. Many claim China is close to being considered a Christian nation. In Korea last summer, I personally witnessed believing students from all over the world dedicating their lives to making Christ known. Praise God for what he is doing in the 10/40 window.

Cities of the world are the next 10/40 window. Cities have a habit of chasing out Christians, exhausting missionaries, and stifling spiritual movements. Ministry in the city is hard. People are at a distance; sometimes a 2-hour commute is necessary to meet someone within the same city. People in cities are different. The city changes them. In Italy, for example, Romans are still Italian in some ways, but are just as urban in culture. In some ways, Romans have more in common with those in Paris, Mexico City, or London than they do with their countrymen in Florence or Pisa. The heartbeat of the world’s cities is postmodernism, so ministering in this context is often disorienting. Many missionaries come from the suburbs and find themselves bewildered in how to function even the most simple day-to-day tasks. Cities are often referred to as “missionary graveyards.” However, as missionaries are moving out, the world is pouring in– by the millions (180,000 daily) into the cities of the world.

There is hope for the city. Praise the Lord, many churches, believers, and organizations have identified the city as a major focus. In Rome, I’ve already rubbed shoulders with 2 new evangelical church plants in the city this year alone. Campus Crusade in the USA, as well as in Europe, has identified top influential cities and are dedicated to sending laborers and resources to the city. (Rome is on both of those lists!) There is growing awareness for the city. God is drawing people to the cities. In Rome, our staff has grown from 7 short-term members in years past to 26 next year (17 long-term and 9 short-term members). Above all, God has a heart for the city. This is His mission, and His alone. However, He is calling us to be a part of what he is doing. Thank you for your faithful prayers & giving to what He is doing here.

Called Back to the city. . .
So, I’m coming back to the city. It’s been quite the process deciding where the Lord is leading me next. Lots of options were on the table: graduate school, a job in Public Relations, or coming back to Rome. Lots of factors, too: a family in the States (My twin sister Erin and her husband Ben live in Chicago, my parents live in Michigan, and my younger sister Marissa just got engaged (yay!) and will soon be moving.), a boyfriend in England, a dream to go to graduate school, and the looming question “What do I want to do with my life?” The decision wasn’t easy. But it came down to this: God simply hasn’t taken Rome off my heart. I didn’t see the Colosseum light up with “Lauren, Stay!” It’s been more of a quiet call. There’s a lot going on here. God is moving. (See page 2!) I’m also very passionate about the city, and being a part of figuring out how to do ministry in the city– something that could translate even to other missionaries & churches around the world. Please be praying for me. As I’m very excited, It’s also a little daunting to think about raising support and moving overseas more long-term (at least more 2 years?). I’ll keep you updated in future letters!

Thank you again for your prayers and support of these students and me this year. I have seen God work in amazing ways in the lives of Roman men and women over the past 2 years. I’m excited that God’s calling me back to Italy for a while longer. I appreciate your prayers and encouragement as I venture into this next stage. Dio é veramente buono! (God is truly good!) Praise be to Him and His name both in my life and the cities of the world– including Roma!

My friend Sarah (CCC in Florence) and I went to
London for a weekend. We’d been talking about it for a long time
It was so fun and refreshing to speak in English!

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