Have you seen the videos of Tokyo’s professional pushers at rush hour—stuffing, squashing, mashing people into overflowing train cars? If you haven’t, YouTube awaits you. Given the suffocating nature of such a commuter experience, this is probably more fun to take in online than in person.

Transporting more than 3 billion riders annually, Tokyo vies with Beijing and Shanghai for the title of world’s busiest subway system.1 New York City, by comparison, provided just 1.72 billion rides,2 but its claim to fame is that it has the most stations of any city metro in the world.3 For better or for worse, the New York City system has also been given the title “most complex metropolitan system in the world.”4 Just glance at a Tokyo subway map, and try to imagine anything more complex. Thankfully, no matter what city you’re in, you can usually count on some kind of map to guide you through the maze of metropolitan burrows and boroughs.

A map can make all the difference in whether you reach a destination. With that in mind, this month’s issue of Mission 360˚ shares a map designed to help us, as a church, reach people in the world’s 570 cities of a million people or more (see pages 16 and 17). It’s a guide to help us pray for these cities, including those we might have otherwise never even known to pray for. For example, whether or not you’ve heard of Chongqing, it’s home to as many as 20 or 30 million people,5 most of whom don’t know Jesus. Your prayers for them now could make all the difference in eternity.

If God was concerned about what He called “the great city of Nineveh,” which had only 120,000 residents (Jonah 4:11), how must His heart yearn for cities of a million people or for those like Guangzhou and Tokyo—each of which is home to roughly 40 million people!6 If you share God’s concern for the people in these great cities, one way to answer His call is through your daily prayers. Even if you can’t go and personally share Jesus in these urban centers, you can help reach them through regular prayer.

We invite you to pull out the map and keep it with your Bible or post it at your church. Then check off the cities as you or your church members pray for them. We also invite you to pray for the workers and new believers whose stories are shared in this magazine. In these ways, you join us as a true partner in mission, and by God’s grace, we’ll reach our final destination together with those for whom we’ve prayed.

Karen Suvankham Communication Specialist
Global Mission Centers, Mission to the Cities

  1. CityMetric Staff, “What Is the Largest Metro System in the World?,”  CityMetric, September 5, 2015, https://www.citymetric.com/transport/what-largest-metro-system-world-1361.
  2. “Introduction to Subway Ridership,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority, accessed Oct. 25, 2018, http://web.mta.info/nyct/facts/ridership/.
  3. Niall McCarthy, “The Subway Systems With the Most Stations,” Statista, July 9, 2018, https://www.statista.com/chart/14604/the-subway-systems-with-the-most-stations/.
  4. Eric Jaffe, “The World’s 15 Most Complex Subway Maps,” Citylab, Feb. 25, 2016, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2016/02/most-complex-transit-subway-maps-world-tokyo-new-york-paris/470565/.
  5. Xue Yufei, “In 2015, Chongqing’s Permanent Resident Population of 30,165,500 People Continued to Grow,” Hualong Network, Jan. 28, 2016, http://cq.cqnews.net/html/2016-01/28/content_36292655.htm.
  6. Thomas Brinkhoff, “Major Agglomerations of the World,” City Population, last modified Jan. 1, 2018, https://www.citypopulation.de/world/Agglomerations.html.