E-Connected Archive - Spring 2008
The Urban Poor
‘In 2008, the world reaches an invisible but momentous milestone: For the first time in history, more than half its human population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas. By 2030, this is expected to swell to almost 5 billion. Many of the new urbanites will be poor.’
UNFPA state of world population 2007, www.unfpa.org
In 2000 God brought our family to live and work in an urban ghetto in West Africa. Our team has successfully carried out development work and church planting amongst some of the world’s poorest people. Through our work we have blessed tens of thousands of poor urban Muslims in the name of our Lord Jesus, and several house fellowships have now been planted amongst Muslim background believers.
One reason for this has been the example set by the team itself: all of us, singles and families alike, demonstrate the love we have for the poor of our nation by living incarnationally amongst them, learning their languages, adopting their lifestyle, thus removing some of the barriers which separate us. People have responded to our message because they see the way we live our lives.
Our experience during these years has deepened my understanding of a God who cares passionately for the poor, and my eyes have been opened to the vast task of reaching poor urban Muslims. Many of the largest and most needy cities in the world are in Muslim countries (think of Cairo, Khartoum, Jakarta, Karachi, to name just a few), and yet the numbers reaching out to the urban ghettos in these places are tiny. When I talk about this to others I am often told that reaching the urban poor is just too difficult, or too dangerous; and yet our own experience is testimony to the fact that God can equip and use us for this task.
The sheer number of poor urban Muslims represents a huge challenge for the worldwide church. In order to meet this challenge we need to see a new wave of workers to step forward, primarily (although by no means exclusively) from those currently in their 20s and early 30s. As I have talked to young people of this generation I have sensed a growing vision for reaching the urban masses.
One of the things we are looking to do in Frontiers is to help raise up and prepare these teams, to facilitate a new wave of outreach amongst poor urban Muslims. Who will join us in this challenge?
A Team Leader in West Africa