Defining Global Gateway Cities
So what is a global gateway city? What justifies or qualifies the term?
Global Gates began using the designation with New York City, and few could argue that – however we define it – New York City fits the bill. But that can also be a problem, since few cities have all the bells and whistles of a New York City.
So what are the key elements that constitute a “global gateway city”? Despite the temptation to begin with the three constituent words: 1) global, 2) gateway, and 3) city – it’s better that we take one step further back, to put this three-word term into its broader context, a context we can obtain by looking at Global Gates’ vision statement. Global Gates’ vision is: reaching the ends of the earth, through global gateway cities.
‘Global gateway cities’ derive their definition and value from their relationship to ‘reaching the ends of the earth’. So ‘global gateway cities’ are a means to reaching the ends of the earth, and not an end in themselves. This means we must add ‘the ends of the earth’ as a fourth component to unpack and clarify our definition of ‘global gateway cities’. Let’s begin.
Ends of the Earth
First, let’s examine ‘the ends of the earth.’ This is a theological term that derives from Christ’s Great Commission words in Matthew 28:20 (“…and lo I will be with you always, even to the ends of the earth.”) and more particularly in Acts 1:8 (“…you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”). In both instances, ‘the ends of the earth’ refers, not so much to geographical designation, as to those peoples that had not yet received the gospel, and to whom Christ was sending his disciples with the gospel.
Translated into the 21st century, then, ‘the ends of the earth’ refers to the world’s least reached people groups, particularly those language communities and populations who have yet to receive the good news of Christ’s salvation. It is for the sake of reaching these least-reached, unevangelized populations that Global Gates is on mission, and it is in relation to reaching these least-reached ethno-linguistic people groups that the term ‘global gateway cities’ must be understood.
With the object of global gateway cities clearly defined as ‘the ends of the earth,’ let’s now turn our attention to these three remaining words, ‘global, gateway, cities.’
‘Global’ is less about size than about content. A city, large or small, becomes globally significant when it contains an ‘ends of the earth’ people group within it. So we must limit our list of global gateway cities to those that contain a substantial population of least-reached peoples.
There are two key aspects to the second term: ‘gateway.’ First, gateway is about access. A city may have a large ‘ends of the earth’ people group within it, but if that city is itself closed or highly restricted from gospel witness, then it is hardly a gateway. Second, ‘gateway’ conveys relationship back to the people group’s community of origin. Diaspora ethnic groups that are generations away from their place of origin with no ongoing relationship back to their place of origin are not very effective gateway communities.
Finally, the word ‘city’ is important, not because Global Gates is primarily an urban mission organization, but because cities are where we have the greatest concentrations of least-reached, ‘ends of the earth’ people groups we are seeking to reach. This time it is size of least-reached population rather than content or mere existence of a people group that takes precedence. A handful of diaspora individuals in a suburb or small town lacks the gravity to warrant a full-time Global Gates missionary engagement, at least until the people group’s largest concentrations in global gateway cities have been addressed.
At the same time, we must not ignore where the concentration of least-reached people groups resides. In the case of Paris, France for example urban planners have intentionally pushed immigrant populations to the suburbs surrounding Paris. We would not want to exclude such factors in allowing that Paris, and its suburbs, constitute a significant global gateway city.
Our resulting definition of global gateway cities then would be those cities with sizable populations of least-reached, ‘ends of the earth’ people groups who are both accessible to Christian witness and through whom their home populations overseas could be impacted with the gospel. This list would begin with New York City, and quickly be followed by Western Hemisphere cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Francisco, Detroit-Dearborn, Minneapolis, and anywhere else where these criteria of special urban concentrations of least reached people groups can be engaged with the aim of reaching them both locally and through them impacting their home populations overseas.
As a result of recent population migrations, Europe is replete with global gateway cities. In Europe then global gateway cities would include: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Marseilles, Athens, and Rome. Due to their restricted nature, Istanbul and Moscow would be less valuable as gateways. For the same reasons, Middle Eastern and North African cities such as Beirut, Cairo, Tunis, and Algiers – though containing large ‘ends of the earth’ people groups – would fall short as ‘gateway’ cities due to their restricted nature.
Asia’s immediate candidates as global gateway cities would include many Pacific Rim mega-cities such as: Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Seoul, Melbourne, Perth, and Sidney. Other Asian urban giants such as Kuala Lumpur, Yangon, and Saigon would probably fail the gateway test due to their restrictions on Christian witness despite the existence of sizable ‘ends of the earth’ populations within them. Tokyo, Taipei and Manila, though fairly open, have a relatively small ‘ends of the earth’ diaspora population. Shanghai, Mumbai, and Calcutta, would be possible global gateway city candidates.
Sub-Saharan Africa has a number of global gateway cities including Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Lagos, Abidjan, and Cape Town. Clearly the 21st century is abundant with global gateway cities. These cities exhibit patterns of human migration that have resulted in the very ends of the earth being brought near to us. God has made available to us through these gateways a means of reaching the world’s least reached peoples and a new and unprecedented avenue to fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime.