We are both very excited to welcome you to the very first issue of the Journal of Urban Mission. Manny often was a guest editor for and contributor to the late Urban Mission Journal produced by Westminster Theological Seminary under the editorship of Roger Greenway and Harvie Conn, and Sue also contributed to that journal. Since its demise in the late 1990s, we have received numerous requests to resurrect that journal. Although not a true resurrection and no longer under the auspices of Westminster, we are now publishing this new quarterly online journal with input from around the world, and we are delighted that you are with us for this launching.
Globalization has brought the world closer and closer together, yet, throughout many years of teaching urban mission courses at Westminster, we have been struck with the dearth of available writings from outside North America and Western Europe, except for an occasional book written by Western missionaries. It has been well documented that the center of Christianity has been ebbing from the shores of North America and Western Europe and has found a new home in the Two-thirds World–Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In all these regions urbanization is occurring in an explosive manner never seen by the Western world, and now the spread of Christianity has mirrored that growth. Christianity has a different look in many of these lands than the look with which we are familiar, yet, in the words of Paul,
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (1 Cor. 12:21-26, NIV)
If we believe this exhortation from Paul, we must recognize our need to learn from our brothers and sisters, our hands and eyes and head and feet, from the Two-thirds World. We need to hear what is going on and hear it through the perspectives of those living it out, the indigenous peoples of those regions. It has been a desire of ours to develop a venue through which these unknown voices can be heard. We praise the Lord that the Journal of Urban Mission will be such a venue, reflecting the thoughts of those in former communist countries, in all four corners of Africa, in Latin America, and in Asia as well as North America and Western Europe.
We now want to encourage you to join us on this new journey of exploring the farthest reaches of Christianity. We want to hear from you, learn how you are ministering, find out in what areas you are most interested, highlight the works and people of God throughout the world. We need your feedback in order to make this journal as helpful as possible.
Manuel Ortiz and Susan Baker