From the City on to Bigger Things?
By: Scott Armstrong
We are nearing the end of our annual 40-day emphasis on praying for the cities of our region. Have you been a part? Thanks for praying and for mobilizing others to do so too! Did you miss out? No problem: although we suggest congregations and individuals start the year by praying in a focused way for the city, you can do it any time. Our document of the requests isn’t dated, and they can be used all year long. Just visit our website or head over to our Facebook page for the daily images we have produced.
Every February 9, when we get to the end of the 40 days, I get a little worried. Will churches forget about our cities the other 325 days of the year? Is urban mission a program that gets focused on for a while and then we move on to other things?
I hope not.
I honestly pray not.
For many years as a missionary I lived and ministered with a passion for the entire world to be saved. I still have that same longing, by the way. But even up until ten years ago, I did not much think about why cities are important theologically, biblically, and strategically. It wasn’t until I moved to Panama City, Panama in 2011 and I lived on the 19th floor of a high-rise apartment that I started to understand. As I looked out each night from the balcony on the thousands of lights and buildings and families that they represented, God began to change my heart. How many of these people in this enormous city did not know Christ as Lord and Savior?
Around that time our region did some research and found out that the majority of the population of our countries in the Caribbean and Mexico and Central America lived in big cities (think 100,000 or more). But only 29% of our Nazarenes lived in those same places! We had some work to do.
Now we as a family have dedicated the last ten years to learning about city ministry and immersing ourselves in urban mission. It’s what we talk about every day. It’s in our blood. We have actually started to understand more about God as we have comprehended his redemptive plan for the city. As Pastor Tim Keller, founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York as well as City to City ministries, says, “It’s true that we must bring the gospel to the city. But we should also recognize how much the city brings the gospel to us.”
Are you there yet? Or is urban ministry just a 40-Day emphasis for you and your church?
In the days following our 40 Days of Prayer, my prayer for you is that you’d get up and get into the city, and that maybe, just maybe, the city would start to get into you.