Connections and Connectedness
I am presently working through the Top 20 Least Reached Provinces of the world, aiming to compile a ‘connectedness’ rating for each district within each province. This is a measure of each district’s physical connectedness – highways, railways, bus lines, seaports, and airports.
This is a useful exercise for anyone who wants to build a strategy for reaching a particular region, country or province. In many places, the unreached are unreached because it is physically difficult to reach them. Turkey is a classic example. Getting to Istanbul or Ankara is challenging, but not overly so. Getting into eastern Turkey is far more difficult. There is a huge divide between urban and rural areas in the nation. For non-Turks to get into the rural and eastern regions is a very great challenge. But getting urban Turks to bring Christianity into the rural areas has its own unique set of problems.
Understanding physical connectedness helps us get at these kinds of issues, or at least identify places where they are a problem. They can also bring to light connections we hadn’t thought of before. In Uttar Pradesh, several districts have major airports and connections because they are major religious sites–Agra (Taj Mahal), Allahabad and Varanasi are examples.
Doing this is pretty easy: just decide on a scale, then get a list of the ‘places’ within the place you are trying to reach – districts, counties, cities, etc. – and go through and rate them. Find data sources for each. It could be as simple as looking at the place in Google Maps and identifying how many ways “in” to the place there are. Then, strategically, think: what’s the easiest place to plant the Gospel first, given these connections? And, having gotten the Gospel there, where would it naturally flow? What are the barriers that keep it from getting to all the places?
The map reveals both opportunities and barriers; the barriers can be grouped into categories; the categories can be solved; the learning can be applied elsewhere.