People often wonder why we send short term teams to cities known for being major tourism destinations. One of the most unique opportunities we have at iGo Global is to partner with local missionaries who have implemented a strategy into their work referred to as reaching “Gateway Cities.”
There are numerous “closed” countries where people have very limited access to the gospel or a Bible in their native language. Many of these countries are hostile to Christianity and are located throughout North Africa and the Middle East. It can be immensely difficult for foreigners to enter these countries.
However, people that live in closed countries often travel to major westernized cities for extended work or to escape hostile environments with the hope of a better future for their families. As a result, they plant their lives in major cities that are flooded with diversity and new opportunities. These immigrants often return to visit their native countries and families or at least remain in contact.
One of the countries we send students to is Spain. According to The Joshua Project, Spain is the home of 54 different people groups, including 8 considered to be “unreached.” The term “unreached people group” means that the number of Evangelical Christians within that people group is less than 2% of its population. That is a minuscule amount of believers! Obviously, Spain is very diverse and contains thousands of individuals from people groups that have very little access to the gospel.
When we send students to places like Madrid, they are not only working among the Spanish, but dozens of people groups from the ends of the earth. When a North African Muslim living in Madrid begins believing the gospel there is a strong possibility that individual will share the truth with family back in their native “closed” country. While an American may have a very difficult time entering that individual’s native country / village, the national can often times easily re-enter their country and share the hope of Jesus with friends and family who’ve never heard His name. This is why we refer to these locations as Gateway Cities. Cities like Madrid provide an avenue, or gateway, for spreading the gospel to people groups in areas that are very difficult to reach.
What a great opportunity! Our prayer is that as the Lord opens the hearts of people in Madrid and other Gateway Cities they will return to their native lands with the gospel and the church will continue to multiply.