by Jerome Hannaman
The world is becoming increasingly urban! Fifty-four percent of all people on earth today live in one of the metropolitan areas of the world. This is up from the 35 percent just 50 years ago. With the people of the world moving to these cities and mingling together, the mission world has both a great challenge and a great opportunity to reach people for Christ that were very difficult to reach before.
Metropolitan Los Angeles is a primary example of this urban reality. This month we are presenting the unreached people groups in the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area (GLAMA), which encompass the urban areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.
This edition of the GPD reflects the very strategic opportunity there is to impact the unreached peoples of the world, not simply those who are “over there,” but those right here in our own urban areas. The opportunity for evangelism described in this prayer guide can also happen in many other urban centers throughout the world today.
The term diaspora, (pronounced dahy-as-por-uh) refers to the dispersion of religious or ethnic groups from their homelands. Such people leave their homelands either by force or by choice. The situation in Los Angeles is a prime example of the urban situation that includes ethnic communities from all over the world.
What Is the Spiritual Condition of Greater Los Angeles?
In relation to the spiritual conditions in GLAMA, the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) states that 50 percent of the people are unclaimed by any religious body. Thirty one percent are Roman Catholic, 9.6 percent are evangelical, and four percent are “other,” which includes Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’i, Islam, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, and Spiritualists, etc.
Dr. Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University, tells us that Los Angeles has become the most complex Buddhist city in the world with its Thai, Korean, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese Buddhist communities. John Orr of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC went so far as to say, “Los Angeles is the most religiously diverse city in the world.”
This being the case, willing servants of Christ can reach out to members of these ethnic and religious communities in a way that will clearly present Christ as the one who has answers to their spiritual needs.
What Research Has Taught Us
Our research shows that there are 325 Buddhist centers, 115 Jewish centers, 113 Islamic Centers, 66 Hindu centers, 17 Sikh Centers, 10 Taoist or Daoism Centers, and four Zoroastrian Centers in the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. New ones are being started all the time.
There are over 300 ethnic groups in Los Angeles. They are predominantly from Latin America and Asia. Our research has found that most people who come from Latin America are looking for job opportunities. Through the decades Latinos have been the fundamental labor force that keeps this urban center functioning. Asians tend to come to GLAMA for education and business opportunities. In the process they bring their Hindu and Buddhist cultures and beliefs.
The new immigrants are not confining themselves to traditional ethnic centers, especially those who come with money and a good education. They are moving to suburbs such as Monterey Park and Irvine. These places are now being called, “Ethno burbs,” short for, “ethno suburbs.”
A Great Potential For Evangelism
Research has shown that first generation immigrant people need spiritual guidance to adapt to their new culture. As people change their geographical location, they become open to change, including spiritual change. For some, such as conservative Muslims and high caste Hindus, there is a unique opportunity to make a decision apart from their traditional community. They have a chance to hear of and embrace Jesus with less interference than they have ever faced in the past.
Those who take the time to make friends and share Christ can change lives. Example: Doung came to America 10 years ago, and now he goes by the name of Doug. When he first came he was given a Bible. The one who gave it to him became his friend, and in the relationship he was able to answer Doug’s many questions about God and His teachings in the Bible. Coming from a Buddhist background, it was all new to Doug, but his Christian friend was patient and answered all his questions. Doug is now an active member of a Mandarin speaking church in Monterey Park.
Christ’s followers need to pray and go! But how do we mobilize one and a half million evangelicals to cross a cultural barrier to be a friend and in that context communicate the message of Jesus to them?
In this context we are asking for people to join us with the Ethnic L.A. Network, a project of the Southern California Mobilization Office of Frontier Ventures. We are seeking to understand who all the different ethnic people are in GLAMA and in mobilizing the body of Christ to bring the gospel in culturally appropriate ways to these unreached peoples. The office is looking for people who want to assist in the research, provide funding, and those who want join this ministry as a missionary to the unreached here. To become involved contact Jerome Hannaman of the Southern California Mobilization office of Frontier Ventures. Jerome.email@example.com
• Pray for Christ’s ambassadors to go to every Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim people in GLAMA.
• Pray for teams of researchers to discover each people group represented here in GLAMA. Pray that they will find ways to reach the unreached in culturally appropriate ways.
• Pray that believers who know God personally would love Him enough to befriend and welcome their new unreached neighbors with the message of Jesus Christ.
• Pray that churches and denominations would catch the vision to support missionaries who are reaching the unreached in the West as well as across the ocean.
• Pray that this edition of the GPD will result in spiritual breakthroughs and culturally appropriate fellowships among every unreached people group in GLAMA.
by Keith Carey
Dear Praying Friends,
Have you noticed that angels are often God’s instruments of communication with mankind? So it’s no wonder that Los Angeles, which means “The angels” in the original Spanish, is prophetically a place of worldwide communication. Los Angeles communicates with the rest of the world through movies, TV, music, and other forms of entertainment.
On a spiritual level God has raised up this city as a place to create gospel tools. Missionaries gravitate here who are not content with the way things are. Consider all the ministries God has birthed here for unreached peoples: Wycliffe Bible Translators, the JESUS Film Project, Global Recordings Network, Frontier Ventures, and a host of others. In fact I could have had GPD writers write a different devotional for each day of the month for various frontier mission efforts in Los Angeles.
Perhaps next time. For now, Jerome Hannaman of Frontier Ventures has been researching the various unreached people groups that live here, and I allowed him to decide most of our prayer topics. With the exception of our opening biography of Global Recording Network founder Joy Ridderhof and the work GRN has done since then, we will focus on unreached people groups that you normally pray for in other editions of the GPD.
From this City of Angels, we are heralding the call to pray for the lost. Will you heed the call? Will you call others to join us in prayer?