Why Los Angeles?
- 18 million people live in the metro Los Angeles area. If it were an independent country, it would rank 34th in population in the world.
- Less than 50% of the population is affiliated with any religious or spiritual body.
- Less than 10% are affiliated with a gospel-preaching evangelical church.
- In fact, there is only 1 southern baptist church for every 18,000 residents.
- Nearly half of the population of LA are born in a country other than America.
- No single racial or ethnic group forms a majority of California's population, making the state a minority-majority state. Nearly 43% of the population speak a language other than English at home, far higher than any other state.
For years the church has been sending missionaries to the least reached people groups across the globe. While this practice must continue, we also must recognize that over the years large numbers of people have been migrating to Western nations, peoples that have been categorized by missiologists as the world's least reached people groups (or unreached people groups). Such global movements of peoples across history, whether forced or voluntary, are under the eye of the Sovereign Lord. Migration does not occur by happenstance. God permits the movement of peoples across the globe in order to advance his kingdom. Some people move to locations that enable them to hear the good news (Acts 17:26-27). Others, who are kingdom citizens, move and are able to share the good news in their new locations (Acts 1:8). (from Strangers Next Door by J.D. Payne)
From the North American Mission Board:
Among all of California’s iconic cities, none has more influence than the largest—Los Angeles. Hollywood alone commands tremendous sway on popular culture worldwide.
The sheer size of Los Angeles calls for considerable strategy with any attempt to reach the city. The city population alone, 3.8 million, is larger than 21 states. The county is nearly 10 million, and “greater” Los Angeles, that makes up the Send North America: Los Angeles plan, has a population close to 20 million.
Los Angeles is home to the largest populations of ethnic, cultural and language groups in the U.S. "There are some 400 distinctive groups here. The world is already here," says a city stategist.
Send North America: Los Angeles focuses on five counties around the city, home to more than 18 million people. There are 973 Southern Baptist churches with a church to population ratio of 1:18,583. The estimated evangelical presence is 9.6 percent.
Throw in a thriving seaport (where a strategic church planting effort engages large cargo vessels) and world-class universities, and the complexity of the task emerges more clearly.
Los Angeles is not a one-strategy-fits-all city. The Send North America: Los Angeles strategy is five-fold: universities, inner cities, beach cities, (suburbia) people groups and Hollywood. To reach the greater Los Angeles area, greater partnerships with great churches are needed.
“When Jesus said, go into all the world, He must have been thinking about L.A.,” says Shepherd. “When you consider the influences of fashion, media, movies and music; what happens in Los Angeles does not stay in Los Angeles. What happens in Los Angeles eventually happens everywhere. If you reach Los Angeles, you reach the world.”
We are going to spend the week exploring a partnership with the North American Mission board's church planting team in Los Angeles. This is a vision trip. Our team of seven is going to be the eyes and ears of our church as we prayerfully consider a long-term partnership with the missionaries on the ground there. The strategists there are equally encouraged by our trip: we are the very first mission team coming with the express purpose of engaging with the least-reached people groups there. They are calling us their "guinea pigs." We love that!
Last night, we had our last team meeting before we fly out on Saturday.
My heart was overwhelmed with how gracious the Lord has been in assembling this team. We sat around our living room and as we talked and prayed, there was such sweetness in the room. The growth we've seen in these students has been monumental; their transparency and honesty is beautiful. We are honored to join with them in serving the global church next week.
We assembled a list of ways that you can join us in prayer this week and next. We plead with you - pray for us. Will you?
- Pray for safety in travel. This is the first time most of the team has even flown in an airplane. Pray for us as we fly, as we drive through the metropolis of Los Angeles, as we walk the streets and enter into the local communities.
- Pray for health, specifically against any illness. One member of our team has gotten sick on every past mission trip she's been on. Pray for healthy, strong bodies to serve!
- Pray for our minds and hearts to be rooted in Christ. Pray for calm nerves and peaceful hearts. Pray against worry, fear, and anxiety in particular. One member of our team struggles with anxiety when in unfamiliar situations. Pray for perfect calmness.
- Pray for us to have open minds as we encounter people who are unlike us; pray for us to have a natural curiosity to know them, and a natural ability to engage them genuinely.
- Pray for flexibility! This is the first trip we've taken of this kind, and because it's a vision trip, it might be different than what we expect. Pray for us to roll with whatever is going on, and to do it joyfully!
- Pray for us to have total servant hearts, and to be a blessing to the missionaries on the ground. Pray for us to be a joy and not a burden to them!
- Pray for wisdom, vision, clarity - as we consider future partnerships. Pray that the Lord will speak and we will listen.
- Pray for our relationship connections, to each other, and to those we will meet. Pray for people to be drawn to us and the Joy we have in Christ.
- Pray for us to have great grace and patience with each other as we travel and work together.
- Pray for open doors to share the gospel, and for us to be willing and confident in sharing this great Hope that we have.
- Pray for focus and concentration. We want to have a good time (and we will!), but pray for us to keep the main thing the main thing.
- Pray for us as we are away from our families for an extended period, some of us for the first time.
And since this is my blog, can I ask you, selfishly, to pray specifically for these two?
It's the longest I've been away from Tucker ever, and from Lana since she was 2. I am so, so grateful to be going with this team, but my heart loves these babies so much and I am with them nearly every hour of every day of their lives. It's hard, you know? So don't pray for me as I'm away from them - pray for them, that they will adjust easily and happily.
Speaking of them being taken care of, will you praise God with me for these two:
My brother and his beautiful wife are coming from Washington, D.C., to stay with our children and care for them! It is a blessing to ALL of Team Davis, and just this really beautiful picture of how the Body is working together to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. I'm so, so thankful. So pray for them as they travel here and as they parent our littles for a week?
Lots more updates to come in about a week and a half, when we return!
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. And when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."