(Sensitive) Amy Cleveland is a veteran missionary, planting churches among UPGs in some of the most difficult locations.
I am no expert on the subject of urbanization. I hear expert after expert say the world is congregating to cities in shocking numbers. I have heard that rural parts of the globe, including across Africa, are quickly depopulating. I've read fifty percent of Africans will live in cities come 2030. It's an alarming fact that about 5.5 million people move into a city around the world every month, that's about 180,000 people a day! The United Nations projects there will be 37 megacities by 2025—most of them in developing countries. Africa is currently the least urbanized continent, but its urbanization rate of 3.5 percent per year is the fastest in the world. So it is Africa's current dilemma; rapid urbanization.
The growth brings with it a world of problems. This crazy fast growth in cities can bring with it a disastrous rise in impoverished slums.
Clean drinking water, quality education, safe living quarters, and proper sanitation only begin the conversation. We can imagine the rippling effect of potential problems that could flow out of this reality. This phenomenon seems to be quite the overwhelming issue.
Although the actual problems and potential problems are before us, many experts agree that this rapid urbanization is a great opportunity for Africa's stability and growth as well. It's undeniable that city life moves forward. Cities produce the most economic growth and cultural impact. It's said, "What goes in the city, so goes in the world." I wonder if this congregating of the masses into cities isn't God's good design to spread his Kingdom into every culture before his return? I wonder if this reality of urbanization could feed a spread of the Kingdom of God unseen before now. It's like the stage is set. We, Christians, have been given our cue.
In Matthew 9, Jesus saw the crowds of people. He wasn't overwhelmed. He didn't turn away from them or their needs. With open eyes and understanding, He lovingly longed for them as their Good Shepherd. Then as we know well, He challenged the disciples asking them to pray for more workers.
He shows us how to see the masses: as ripe and ready fields. Let's respond as Jesus taught us to.
Where the majority of the population is, the majority of the opportunities to influence the population are as well. People are the work of the Church; people who are culture shapers; people who are longing, hurt, and hungry; people who are inventive and productive; people who are lost; people who are ripe and ready for the gospel of grace. In Africa today, with exploding urban growth, Jesus' heart is the same. He has shown us to look into the urban masses and see a ripe harvest ready. His challenge to us remains the same as well: ask the Lord of the Harvest for more laborers, for the time of the harvest has come.