2 minute read

I love it when I stumble across neat visualizations that are fruitful for missions, and the following is just that. Max Galka is a number-cruncher who works with all kinds of interesting data on his website, Metrocosm. On his site, he has an interactive map of immigration patterns to the United States over the last 200 years, and it does a wonderful job of visualizing the information. When the data is visualized, it tells a fascinating story, and one that local churches should see.

Here is a video of the map running, and then I want to point out three things you should notice concerning migration and missions.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiPq7C06zjQ]

Obviously, the question we should be asking is, “What does this all mean for missions?”

Here are three points on the timeline that you should notice:

The First Great Wave of Immigration (Early 1900s)

Right at the turn of the 20th century, there was a spike in immigration in the United States that we refer to as the first great wave of immigration. During this time, millions of immigrants moved to the United States. This was the era that earned us the melting pot nickname, and the one that brings to mind those photos of long lines on Ellis Island. During this period, we received a multitude of immigrants, but the vast majority were from European countries. The majority moved into our booming industrial-era cities and that is why we have ethnic enclaves like Little Italys or Germantowns.

However, this wave of immigration bottomed out shortly after the Great Depression and two World Wars. Through policy change, suspicion, and economic factors, immigration slowed to a trickle for a long time. In 1924, the Immigration Act and the Asian Exclusion Act were signed into law, limiting the number of people who could migrate to the United States.

The Hart-Cellar Act (1965)

In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Hart-Cellar act, reversing the previous immigration act. This abolished those quotas and once again allowed immigration to take place at higher levels. You can see this shift on the map. After 1965, the number of immigrants swells. What is more, a shift occurred in types of immigrants we were receiving. During the first great wave, the vast majority were European. Since 1965, the vast majority appear to be anything but European. Notice on the map how many countries light up as sending immigrants after 1965. By the turn of the 21st century, the whole world is lighting up, and the number of immigrants continues to swell.

A Rise in Peoples from Least-Reached Places

Finally, this is why this matters for missions. Since this second wave of immigration started, a tide of peoples from areas with no gospel access are moving to the United States. This map does an excellent job of visualizing this phenomenon. Notice, as the timeline approaches today, the people streaming from India, China, the Middle East, and parts of Africa that are unreached places. Visualizations like this give us a glimpse at this movement from God’s perspective, as he moves peoples around the world for the sake of his name. Watch as thousands of people are plucked up from Pakistan, Turkey, and Bangladesh. Watch as the map of India turns bright red, and realize that God is orchestrating these movements and that he has given you and your church a mission to share the gospel with people from these places. Now, he has made some of them your neighbors.


You can check out the fully interactive map here: http://metrocosm.com/animated-immigration-map/