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Urbanization. Like never before.

‘When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’ – Matthew 9:36

We all know that China has the largest population of any country in the world, but what’s truly astounding is the recent movement, or migration, of people into the urban centers, and the forecast for greater such movement in the future.  McKinsey and Company released a report detailing this urbanization, highlighting the following:

  • In 2010 China’s urban population surpassed it’s rural population for the first time.
  • If present trends continue, by 2030 nearly 1 billion people will inhabit China’s cities, out of a total population of 1.4 billion.
  • By 2025, nearly 350 million people will be added to the urban population, of which 240 million will be migrants.
  • By 2025, it’s estimated that China will have 221 cities with a population of 1 million or more.  For perspective, in all of Europe today there are only 35 cities with populations of over 1 million.  In the U.S., there are 10.  Total.  Within 10 years China will have 221 such cities!

Figures like this are so staggering that we often don’t know what to do with them, or how to respond.  This is a kind of urbanization unlike the world has ever seen before.  And yet, as it’s happening right before our eyes, we find ourselves challenged by a lingering question that won’t go away: what are we going to do about it?

In Matthew 9 Jesus saw the crowds of people, and yet instead of responding with disgust or discouragement, or treating the hoards of people as a nuisance, he responds with compassion and love.  And then he famously tells the disciples that more workers are needed, for the fields are ripe and ready.  “Pray to the Lord for more harvesters” he says, for the time of the harvest has come.

This advice is as much appropriate for us, in today’s China, as it was 2000 years ago.

“How are we going to respond to China’s massive urbanization?” we might ask.

Join us in praying to the Lord of the harvest that now, and in the coming years, he would raise up a staggering number of workers to match the staggering need.  Join us in praying that God would fill us with love and compassion, such that our response to these crowds of people would mirror his.  

May God be known and loved and worshipped by the people who call China their home. How we pray that this season in the life of China would be remembered less for urbanization and more for transformation, less for the movement of people from one place to another, and more for the movement of God’s spirit in the hearts and lives of millions and millions of people!  For the glory and honor of God’s name may it be so.

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