This fascinating article recently popped up on my news feed detailing the “megacities” of the world. The article, published in 2018, includes an infographic which maps 33 current megacities as well as six others considered “on the way by 2030.” A megacity is defined in the infographic as “an urbanized center, housing ten or more million inhabitants. They are often the primary nodes for investment in a country and feature the most affluent households.”
The article and its infographic got me thinking of the God of a certain son of Amittai.
The Original Son of Amittai
We are all most likely familiar with the story of Jonah, the son of Amittai. The word of the Lord comes unto him and tells him to arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it. Jonah then decides to tuck his tail to flee from the presence of the Lord. He makes it down to Joppa and books a one-way ticket to Tarshish. This is the rough equivalent of a Californian, told of the Lord to go to New York City, booking a one-way ticket for Honolulu — he didn’t exactly go the right direction. In other words, he disobeyed God. Why?
Over the events of chapters one and two, the Lord uses a great wind and eventually a great fish to get Jonah to go to the great city. By the time Jonah shows up and preaches, the people believe God and we find Jonah pouting like a four year old, complaining to the Lord and saying he knew from the start that He would graciously spare the city.
Let that sink in. Jonah complained about God’s grace toward sinners.
Here’s what Jonah says:
“I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”
Not only does he complain about God’s grace toward sinners, he admits to knowing that God is gracious and merciful before God spoke to him the first time in chapter one. Then he admits that he ran away because of God’s grace.
In other words, Jonah didn’t want to preach in Nineveh because he was afraid God would forgive them. He knew that even though Nineveh was a great city and home to 120,000 sinners, God’s grace was greater and great enough to forgive them all!
There’s the “why”. The reason why Jonah didn’t obey the Lord the first time was because he didn’t want to share the grace of God with others.
After he finishes pouting, Jonah begs the Lord to kill him, storms out of the city, finds a shady spot, gets comfortable, and waits to see if the Lord will change His mind and destroy Nineveh anyway.
Having been gracious towards undeserving Nineveh, the Lord extends that same grace back to the undeserving messenger by causing a gourd to grow up and give him some more shade. There goes God being gracious again! It’s OK this time though because it’s for Jonah.
But when Jonah finds the gourd eaten by God’s prepared worm the next morning, Jonah gets angry all over again.
The Lord then rebukes Jonah for taking more pity on the gourd and his own personal comforts than on a city of 120,000 sinners. The Lord says:
“And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”
You see, Nineveh was a great city – a great city in need of the greater grace of God. Jonah knew their condition, knew of God’s willingness to forgive them, and chose to run to Tarshish so as to prevent the Lord from sparing them. Jonah was satisfied to lead a comfortable life enjoying the great grace of God while knowing of a great city that needed to hear the word of the Lord but choosing to ignore it.
The son of Amittai would rather hoard all of God’s grace to himself.
Mega Grace for Megacities
Circling our attention back to the fascinating article mentioned above (feel free to click again and check out the infographic), there are some great cities in this world today filled with people who know nothing of the greater grace of God. They know nothing of the grace that is greater than all their sin.
Friend, should not the Lord spare these great cities, wherein are more than thousands upon thousands of persons that cannot discern between light and darkness, right and wrong, righteousness and sin? Should not He spare them of the wrath to come?
He wants to. He desires to, and He delights in bringing His message of salvation through messengers. That’s why He sent Jonah to Nineveh. That’s why He lead Paul and his company to the “chief city” of Philippi. That’s why the Lord sent Phillip to the Ethiopian eunuch. God sends messengers who know of His grace to preach it to those who don’t.
A Plea for “Would Be” Sons of Amittai
Friend, how about you? If you are reading this article it’s probably safe to assume you know a thing or two about God’s grace. Would you surrender your life to go to a “great city”, a “chief city”, a “megacity”, and tell them of the greater grace of God? The Lord would love to use you as His mouthpiece.
Let’s not be “Sons of Amittai” who, like Jonah, are selfish with the grace of God, comfortable where we are, and wanting to keep salvation to ourselves. Let’s instead be Sons of Amittai who willingly and boldly launch out into the world with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
Consider Karachi, Pakistan, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Consider Mexico City, Mexico, and Chicago, United States.
Would you go? Would you preach? Or would you be a Son of Amittai?
The word of the Lord, after all, has come to you as well:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Commonly known as Greater Portland, the Portland-Auburn metro area is home to over half a million people, making it over one-third of the total population of the state of Maine. Portland, the hub of the metro area, is a city rich in history as it was originally formed just ten years after America declared her independence from Britain. It is also the birthplace of famous author, Stephen King.
According to Barna, the Portland-Auburn metro area’s population is a striking 52% unchurched.* This equates to around 267,000 unchurched people. As you can see, Greater Portland is in great need of the gospel.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14, KJV)
At Vision Baptist Church, we are praying for a man to take the gospel to the Portland-Auburn metro area and plant churches that will in turn further the gospel throughout Maine and the New England area. Please join us in praying that the Lord would send us a man to train so that he could go and devote his life to Greater Portland. Pray for the people in the metro area to hear the gospel. Ask the Lord if He would have you to be that man.
Just a 60-minute drive from Montreal, Quebec, Plattsburgh is known as Montreal’s U.S. suburb. Due to its close proximity to Canada, there is much Canadian influence in the city. For instance, some of the street signs throughout the city are bilingual – in English and French. Another point of interest is that the City of Plattsburgh was the first city in the state of New York to elect an openly gay mayor. Though it is a relatively small city with a population of around 80,000*, it is in great need of Bible-preaching churches. According to the Barna group, Plattsburgh is 55% unchurched.**
Would you commit to pray with us at Vision Baptist Church that the Lord will raise up a man to devote his life to reaching this city with the gospel? Would you pray and ask the Lord if He would have you be that man? Plattsburgh, at 55% unreached, has approximately 45,000 people who don’t avail themselves to the small gospel presence in the city. Many of them probably have no Christian friends. Would you go to these 45,000 with the gospel? Would you plant a church among them and tell them of the love that God has demonstrated toward them in Jesus Christ?
The largest city in New Hampshire, Manchester is located along the banks of the Merrimack River. The Manchester-Nashua metropolitan area is home to nearly one-third of the population of New Hampshire. This city is in great need of the gospel. Of its estimated 2,794,000 people, 53% are unchurched. That equates to 1,480,820 unchurched people – nearly one and a half million!*
According to the Barna Group, an unchurched person is any person who has not been to a church of any kind in the last six months. One and a half million people in this city are not involved in church and are on their way to a Christ-less eternity.
At Vision Baptist Church, we are praying for the Lord to give us a young man to be trained at the Our Generation Training Center and then be sent to Manchester to proclaim the gospel of Christ. Will you join us in praying for this laborer? Would you ask the Lord if He wants you to be that young man?
*http://cities.barna.org/barna-cities-the-top-churchless-metro-areas/ Percentage was taken from this article.
**Population estimate was taken from the National Census Bureau website.
It would probably not be disputed that nearly everyone in the world has heard of New York City. It is the most popular city in the United States and one of the most popular cities in the world. It is the hub of trade and commerce for most of the economies on our planet. It is known for its size, grandeur, population, and history. Many around the world recognize New York City as a symbol of hope, prosperity, and an opportunity for success when they see our beloved Lady Liberty standing in her harbor. But there is something grim and far more important that Christians should see New York City as: a 304 square mile mission field within our own borders.
According to city-data.com, the current population of New York City is just over 8.5 million people, 48% of which say they haven’t been to church in the last six months as reported by the Barna group. That means that there are 4.1 million people in New York City who do not go to a church of any kind on a regular basis. Of the 8.5 million people in New York City, approximately 20% of them live in poverty. Out of the 4.4 million people who do go to church on a regular basis, 40% of them adhere to Catholicism. Other religions with large numbers of followers are: Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism and Mainline Protestants.
Continue to help us here at Vision pray that God will send us men who are willing to let us help them and send them to these large cities within our own borders that need churches planted and the Gospel preached. We are committed to seeing the evangelism of the world in this generation. We need men to plant churches here in our own country as well to make that happen.
Home of Ben & Jerry’s icecream1, Burlington, Vermont, was listed by Forbes as one of “America’s Prettiest Towns”2. Current U.S. Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was the mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 19893.
While home to a modest population of 214,796, Burlington is in great need of the gospel. It is one of the most unchurched cities in America, with 55% unchurched. That means that 118,137 of Burlington’s residents are unchurched.4
According to the Barna Group, an unchurched person is any person who has not been to a church of any kind in the last six months. This indicates that over one hundred thousand of Burlington’s residents have had little to no dealings with its few churches. The majority of the city doesn’t have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
At Vision Baptist Church, we are praying for the Lord to send us a young man to receive training at the Our Generation Training Center and be sent to Burlington with gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you partner with us in praying for such a man? Would you ask the Lord if He would have you to be that man?