A few months ago, I was in a meeting with my friend Matthew Gibbins of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) for nearly four hours. During that meeting he made the comment that trying to figure out the best ways to connect with specific unreached people groups (UPGs) in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), who, for various reasons, overall typically do not consistently cluster together—“ghettoization”—like we see in so many other North American gateway areas, is like (in Matthew’s words) ‘sand slipping through your fingers.’
My mind has returned multiple times since then to that conversation. Whereas in most megacities, metropolitan areas, etc., in North America it is fairly normal to find significant clusters or pockets of specific ethnicities in certain geographic sections of a given city, that dynamic is largely missing in the Greater Toronto Area. There are some noticeable concentrations, for example, of Somali Muslims, or Afghan Muslims, in certain neighborhoods of Toronto. But, by and large, a ‘ghettoization’ phenomenon is not widespread across multiple UPGs in this part of North America. That is because at federal, provincial, and municipal levels in GTA, government officials have a proactive policy of housing new immigrants and refugees with an intentional intermixing of ethnicities to prevent the very ghettoization that has proven in many other North American locales to have significant negative results in multiple spheres.
Although the government officials’ efforts are laudable, they create a missional access dynamic that requires new thinking and new approaches for getting the gospel to wide geographic swaths of individual ethnic groups in GTA and other metro areas across Canada that have significant intermixed diaspora immigrant & refugee populations. This new missional situation has been described by some missiologists and researches as one of ‘hybridity’ that has created new challenges in helping significant numbers of people in many ethnolinguistic people groups to have access to the good news of Jesus in close time and geographic proximity.
Would you pray with us as we seek out how best to find, to encounter, and to cross-pollinate the gospel among people groups across GTA? We don’t want to see them, in the words of Paul Simon, ‘slip sliding away’ in their lives on this planet and in the afterlife, without knowing Jesus as King and being part of His kingdom.
Dr. Chris Carr
Jan. 24, 2019