by Robert E Rasmussen
The 10-40 Window is now reflected in the great multicultural cities of the world, creating a “10-40 Mirror.”
In 2000 I concluded God was asking us as a family to return to the USA after ten years of equipping church leaders in Kenya. Even as the relocation seemed clear, so was the sense that God was not calling us out of a priority focus on His mission. After a season of intense illness on the part of my wife, I did a short leadership stint within our agency until I was asked to open up the USA as a new “field” for mission. The discovery I have made as a result of this assignment is that many churches overlook the “Samaria” portion of Jesus’ Acts 1:8 promise of witness empowered by the Holy Spirit.
“Samaria” by common application is the geographically-near yet culturally-far aspect of mission. It should not be considered a second-rate stepchild of “real mission” to the uttermost part of the earth. For if we look closely at Jesus’ final statement prior to ascending to heaven, we note the conjunctions: Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). In other words, Jesus did not indicate that disciples were to choose one aspect of mission and overlook the others. We are to engage them all, concurrently.
We live during a critical time to watch what God is doing, for He is orchestrating a global diaspora (scattering) that may be historically unprecedented. God is turning western cities into Samarias.
If you have been in mission conversations over the last 20 years, you have undoubtedly encountered the concept of the 10-40 Window . This is the massive geographical rectangle bordered by 10 and 40 degrees north latitude, extending from North Africa through the Middle East all the way to Asia. This is a hugely significant focus for mission endeavor, containing approximately 60% of the world’s population. It contains the great centers of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. And the window houses great areas of poverty. This least reached part of the world must increasingly receive our sacrificial giving, going and praying. (Photo source: win1040.com)
I have become persuaded that many of the the multicultural cities of western Europe, U.K., Australia, Latin America, Asia, and North America represent a notable phenomenon for engaging the nations of the world in close proximity to believers in Jesus. That is why I call these parts of the world the “10-40 Mirror.” When you look at the work of God in these countries, you truly see a reflection of the non-Christian peoples of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
HISTORIC CONVERGENCE OF THREE REALITIES
I believe each of the countries in the 10-40 Mirror offers unique opportunities for the gospel. Since my ministry is focused on the United States, I have thought about the uniqueness presented here. The USA at the present time offers us a historic Great Commission obligation due to the convergence of three realities.
1. The gathering of the nations in American metropolitan areas. As J.D.Payne shares in his e-book Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Places,
- There were in 2012 an estimated 360 unreached people groups in the USA (180 in Canada)
- El Cajon CA is home to 60,000 Iraqis
- Minneapolis, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio are home to well over 100,000 Somalis
- Irving Texas is home to 5,000 Kurds and Nashville is home to 11,000 Kurds
- Punjabi Sikhs number 80,000 in New York
- Albanians number 122,000, with largest numbers in New York, Chicago, Boston and Detroit
- Detroit has the largest concentration of Arab Muslims numbering in the tens of thousands
In Acts 17:26-27, the Apostle Paul reveals that God intentionally moves people around, determining where and when they will dwell, for the express purpose of their finding the God who loves them. If there was ever a billboard from heaven, we are seeing one today in the diaspora of the nations into our cities.U.S. cities are treasures of tribes and nations! God has been sending us this message for decades. Back in 1994 Huang & Nieves-Grafals wrote:
- Los Angeles is now the second largest Iranian city in the world
- Chicago has more Poles than San Francisco has people
- One-third of the world’s Jews live in the United States
- In the U.S. there are more Buddhists than Episcopalians
- In California, 239 languages are spoken; in New York, 184; in Washington, 181; in Texas, 169.
- More than 400,000 international students from 181 counties study at American universities.
(Huang & Nieves-Grafals, “Cross-Cultural Counseling” lecture, 1994)
2. The freedom to live out our lives as followers of Christ, and to share His love and message. I do not argue against the reality that American culture is becoming increasingly hostile to evangelical Christianity, but we still have the opportunity to live out our faith in gathering for worship and demonstrating our love in tangible ways. We are free to disseminate our message in the media and in personal relationships.
There is no other country in which over 325 million people enjoy such freedom to exchange ideas. Those migrating to the USA have not experienced this kind of openness before. Away from the traditions and pressures of their homelands, they are free to consider new ideas — especially if they see the message embodied in loving relationships. We do not know how long this freedom will last, but for this season at least, we must capitalize on it and not take our freedoms for granted.
3. The presence of the gospel within the Church. I have heard, as have you, the indicators that the American Church is in decline. I know the number of people leaving the church has increased greatly over the last few years. In fact, the numbers shock me! I’m shocked that the picture is not even worse than it is. Given the way we as a country, and as a broad community of believers are forsaking the heritage given us, it is only because of the grace of God that we still have His life and message.
According to a study of religious affiliations done by Pew Research, 26% of Americans were Evangelical Protestant, 6.9% were a part of Historically Black Churches, and 18% identified as Mainline Protestant. This constitutes well over 100 million believers in America who know the good news of Christ! Despite all the reasons to be skeptical about the effectiveness of our witness, the presence and potential of the body of Christ in the USA is a testament to the favor of God! The community of saints in America today is something for which to thank God.
Taken together, the gathering of the nations, the freedom of religion and expression, and the presence of the gospel in the Church constitute a historic Great Commission opportunity. I suggest to you that God has used the founding of the “New World” to produce a new re-gathering of the nations for an unprecedented hearing of the gospel without political restriction.
There are both challenges and motivations as we consider the 10-40 Mirror.
I believe the 10-40 Mirror is a wake-up call to churches and believers across our land. Throughout history, God’s purposes have never failed. But at times the people of God have not risen to God’s highest aspirations for them and, as a result, have missed full participation in the harvest. If we had an Old Testament prophet among us today, he would be wailing at the outrage of the opportunity we are forfeiting. For decades the Church has been hearing about the “world at our doorstep,” and yet the Church has not capitalized on the opportunity. Rather, churches have, for the most part, continued to operate as if it is the responsibility of someone else. Churches continue to be uninformed and apathetic like the church in Sardis (Rev. 3:1) who had a reputation for being alive but were in fact dead. We have unreached people groups right alongside us in our cities, and we are ignoring them. Worse, by focusing on ourselves, we are daily reinforcing the message that we do not care.
THE BOOST WE NEED
The mentality of many leaders in the mainstream churches, even those who are awakened to the nations among us, focuses primarily on the need to reach out to unevangelized ethnic groups. This is, of course, a great pursuit. However, we also have much to receive from those God is sending to our country who are bringing with them a vibrant faith. Some have suffered for the cause of Christ and have much to teach us. They are unashamed of the gospel and will eagerly proclaim Christ and plant churches. The Church in America is on the decline. Could it be that we are witnessing God’s gift for our own revitalization in the sending of brothers and sisters from lands where the gospel is spreading with power? I believe so. The future health of the Church here may well depend on our receiving the blessing of these internationals.
UNITY IN DIVERSITY AS POWERFUL WITNESS
In John 17:21 Jesus prayed that his followers through the ages would be characterized by unity, stating that the observing world would conclude that He was sent from the Father. When those in a divided society see loving unity between groups and individuals who are normally divided, they will witness power beyond themselves. They will see instead the supremacy of Christ (Col. 3:11). It is essential then that the Church realize it is a reconciled community. The dividing walls have been broken down (Eph 2). As we become reconciled to God, we have the potential to be reconciled with each other. Despite the fact that many want to put the past behind us, the ongoing issues of racism cry out for the liberating demonstration of the gospel today. We must address the issues of racism and power. And importantly, we must pursue the goal of the intercultural church in which different cultures are not merely tolerated but embraced as gifts to the rest of the body. The cultural parts of the body are all necessary (1 Cor. 12). We are incomplete without each other. As the paper on Intercultural Unity by the Ethnic America Network declares, “that if we belong to Jesus, then we belong to those who belong to Jesus.”
Many of our churches have a strong desire to make a difference in overseas mission. Short-term mission trips abound. How effective are our efforts over the long-term? One benefit of the diaspora which has produced the 10-40 Mirror is the opportunity to meet internationals who have a vision for their homeland. They have a network there that would take a North American years to establish. Partnering with such visionary leaders is a win-win blessing: It helps them find the resources to fulfill their God-given vision, and helps us in the west to discover meaningful, long-term service. Beyond sending dollars, our churches can enter partnerships which involve exchanges of different kinds of ministries lasting years. These should be viewed as mutual learning opportunities where we go (or receive) interculturally, intending not only to do for others, but to learn from them as well. (Photo: Training opportunity in Ethiopia, the vision of an Ethiopian pastor met in Seattle)
I urge you to take a fresh look at your city! Jesus went to Samaria and saw a harvest where no one else did. And it began with one friendship with one woman. She opened up a whole village to the Messiah.
And take a fresh look at your church or denomination. Where does “Samaria” fit in your priorities and budget?
Please keep your priority on the 10-40 Window. But look again into your 10-40 Mirror!