Global Cities - Church Planting in Major Cities of the World
The Global Cities mission strategy transcends the regions where we work. In every region, there are cities that impact the entire region and we need to make sure that we include those cities in our decisions about the regions. The urban or city environment today is very similar to what existed in the first 100 years A.D. In 1970, Tokyo, Japan and New York were the only cities in the world with a population over 10 million people. Today, there are more than 35 of them with many more on the horizon.
Given this massive growth in cities and their unusual openness to the gospel, it is absolutely imperative that Cedar Springs has, as one of it core focuses, a strategy to reach major cities around the world. In determining our strategy, it became clear that the leader in understanding how to reach Global Cities is Redeemer Church’s City to City in New York, where Dr. Tim Keller ministers. It was, therefore, an easy and obvious decision to partner with Redeemer.
Southeast Asia (including China)
China is the most populated country of the world with 1.38 billion people. There has been explosive growth to the church in China. Today, there's an estimated 7.8% of the population who profess themselves as Christians. The church has exploded – but not all over China. There are regions of China where the gospel has not penetrated at all. And there are population groups where the church does not exist or is very weak. Our vision is to help the Chinese believers reach these forgotten people:
- The Dong people and other minority people groups of Southwest China
- University trained urban dwellers
- People displaced by natural disasters
- Urban migrant workers
In the same region, we focus on countries like Laos and Indonesia that have vast populations who remain unevangelized and poor. We are also involved in the planting of churches among unreached tribal groups in countries that border Thailand. The work being done in this region is truly remarkable and we are privileged to be participating in the emergence of a church planting movement in some of these countries. A church planting movement is where the gospel takes hold of a certain population and many churches are established over a short period of time.
This region consists largely of India. India is the second most populated country in the world with about 1.28 billion people. It is also one of the most unreached countries. Roughly two percent of India is Christian. Like China, India is growing fast and is destined to become a significant world player this century. It is vital that we reach this country with the gospel.
North Africa and the Middle East
This region is the heart of the Arabic Islamic world. Islam began in Saudi Arabia and that country remains its stronghold. However, countries like Egypt and, in particular, the city of Cairo are very influential to Arabic thinking. Through technology, Muslims around the world are having the opportunity to hear the message of Christ in the privacy of their own homes, asking questions, and coming to a personal faith in Christ. Throughout the Muslim world, there are testimonies of people having visions and dreams of Jesus. More people have come to Christ in every country throughout the Muslim world in the last 10 years than in the last 1400 years combined. As never before, there is a world of opportunity in the Muslim world! Cedar Springs is supporting strategic work in these areas:
- media and technology
- training new believers from a Muslim background
- strengthening house churches and leadership by nationals
- primary church planting
- refugee support
- mercy ministry
God is also bringing the nations to Knoxville! The North Africa/Middle East Team hopes to facilitate our congregation’s ability to develop meaningful relationships with Arab Muslims now living here as refugees, immigrants, and university students. An Arab Fellowship meets weekly for seeker questions and new believer discipleship. There is also an Arab-speaking church for Christian background believers.
Sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya & Mozambique)
In the early 1990’s Mozambique emerged from 27 years of civil war, drought, floods and other natural disasters. At that stage it was one of the poorest countries in the world. World Relief, a Christian based relief organization, had entered the country and was attempting to help the people get back on their feet. In late 2002, World Relief approached Cedar Springs with an idea of “adopting” the country of Mozambique. Since 2003, we have been assisting World Relief in the following strategic areas: health interventions, education projects, agricultural projects, relief efforts and trade (micro-enterprise). In addition, Cedar Springs has been working alongside World Relief and other large North American churches to strengthen the church, which is strongly influenced by syncretistic practices.
For the past few years, in order to understand the culture, the Mozambique team has been working alongside World Relief staff in a region called Gaza. They focused in on a village and have been developing replicable models that can be leveraged across hundreds of villages and towns in Mozambique. A number of other North American churches have followed the lead of Cedar Springs and are working in nearby villages with the same overall goal.
In Ethiopia, our ministry partners grapple with HIV/AIDS issues in practical ways, while also planting churches in some of the poorest communities.
Since the 2015 annual Global Mission Conference, we partner with Nairobi Chapel and have missionaries serving in hospitals and helping train national leaders.
Unreached People Groups
Given that less than one cent out of every one hundred dollars contributed by Christians around the world is earmarked to take the gospel to those who have never heard the name Jesus, Cedar Springs began the adoption process of unreached people groups in 1994. Remember God's challenge in Ezekiel 33 (a paraphrase): "If you warn them and they do not listen, that is their responsibility. If you do not warn them and they perish, I will hold you responsible." That is a great challenge to us as we think of those who still have not heard the gospel. The church currently has a few adopted people groups, all of which were "unreached."
DONG - The Dong people are a “hidden” people. They number about 1.6 million in Guizhou and nearly 3 million total in all of China. It is especially difficult to reach the Dong people because of geographical, linguistical and political barriers. They are animistic, polytheistic, ancestor-worshipping and largely non-literate.
MAITHILI - The approximately 20,000,000 Maithili people of Bihar State, north India and of southern Nepal are predominantly Hindu with a minority of Muslims among them. There have only been a handful of Maithili believers until recent years, but now the church is steadily growing among them. Sometimes whole villages welcome evangelists, but in other places whole villages oppress those who believe.
In the past, we've also focused on the following people groups:
BOZO - There are approximately 160,000 Bozo people of central Mali, West Africa. They live along the Niger River, in a large, low, swampy region, where the Niger breaks into several branches. Their economy and way of life center upon fishing, although they do engage in some rudimentary agriculture.
GWIKWE - There are approximately 10,000 Gwikwe people of Botswana. They live in south-central Africa and are one tribe of the fabled Kalahari Bushmen. Once a nomadic, hunter-gatherer people, the Bushmen are nearing extinction. Most of them have been uprooted from their independent desert way of life and scattered across Botswana or resettled into reservations – tent cities or stick villages. In these places they live in ignorance, poverty and dependency.
NARA - The Nara people live in Eritrea, a small country lying along the western coast of the Red Sea, bordered on the west by Sudan and Ethiopia. They number between 25,000-60,000, and some authorities say there may be as many as 80,000. The Nara live a hard life in a harsh land. If they have any religion, it is Islam, and until recently, there was no Christian presence among them. Access to them is difficult; their roads are few and terrible, and some are mined.
TUVAN - The Tuvans are a Turkic people group found in China, Mongolia, and Russia and typically practice shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. Through evangelism efforts, as well as media outreach (Jesus Film), Bible translation, and training for new believers, the Tuvan people have been one of the most successful unreached people ministries at CSPC.