"Should I not be concerned about that great city?" (Jonah 4:11b)
Janet, Christopher, and I returned to the National Missionary Convention this morning for a session on urban ministry. Dave Smith, an urban minister in New York City, presented a workshop on the importance of reaching the major urban areas of the world.
We had expected an emphasis on the kind of work being done by the Contact Church of Christ in Tulsa, an emphasis on reaching the urban poor. Dave Smith touched on that topic, but his emphasis focused on reaching the immigrants and the influential.
He noted that most immigrants come to the major cities in order to find work. As they move in, they are more receptive to Christians who are willing to help them and who are willing to share their faith with them. Many immigrants work in the major cities of America and then return to their homelands. If they were to become followers of Jesus Christ, many of them could carry the message of Christ back to countries closed to American missionaries. By reaching the cities, we can reach the world.
Mr. Smith also talked about the importance of reaching out to the educated, influential, and wealthy in the cities. If the people on Wall Street were guided more by the biblical ethics of concern for others, integrity, and the glory of God, would the world be facing the current economic turmoil? What if people in the arts were touched by the gospel? Would the theater, movies, music, and television more frequently be redemptive rather than degrading? Despite their apparent self-sufficiency, the wealthy and influential need Christ as much as anyone.
Dave Smith did a great job of encouraging Christians to open their eyes to the possibilities of reaching people in the major cities of our country and the world.