by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
The world is rediscovering geography, to the delight of many in international missions.
The world is rediscovering geography, to the delight of many in international missions. In a rapidly changing and digital world, place makes a difference. This year’s emphasis by the AD2000 and Beyond Movement on praying for “strategic towns” reminds us just how important “our place,” our community, is. Maps on the Web, from global to local, help us better understand our world.
For quick access to a wealth of mapping sites for missions, point your browser to the MisLinks site: either www.gmi.org/mislinks or www. wheaton.edu/Missions/mislinks; then click on the “Maps” link.
What is a particular region like? Where is God moving in discernible ways? And where are areas of greatest need? Maps help us discover new insights into the world God has called us to.
One of the best places to start your geographic education is the free online resource from the University of Texas. Its Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection is outstanding, containing over 200,000 maps: www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/Map_collection.html.
As to be expected, National Geographic’s online map site is a wonderful place for exploration. Try its “Map Machine” (www.national-geographic.com/resources/ngo/maps); you won’t be disappointed.
The Web also provides access to commercial maps. Omni claims to have “the world’s largest online map catalog” at www.omnimap.com. Maps.com is perhaps the best online map store (www.maps.com). And for the professional designer, Cartesia’s MapArt (www.map-art.com) sells thousands of excellent maps on CD-ROM.
Need more? You can find links to multitudes of other mapping sites at the Mining Co. (geography.miningco. com), Oddens’s Bookmarks (karto-server.frw.rnu.nl/html/staff/oddens/oddens.htm), or Global Mapping International (www.gmi.org/mapping/websites.htm).
EDUCATION AND MOBILIZATION
There is a constant need to keep the support team back home informed about missions, both the big picture and your particular ministry. For church or newsletter presentations, the simple, clean (and free) country maps available at the World Fact Book site (www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook) are great. Print the maps on paper or overhead transparency, or copy and paste them into your PowerPoint presentation or word processor.
Similarly, National Geographic’s “Expeditions” makes available 600 downloadable, printable maps, free for noncommercial purposes.
For attractive, free maps, flags, and globes for use on your Web site, see www.graphicmaps.com/clipart.htm. Graphic Maps will also create custom maps for your application, for a fee.
Global Mapping International (www.gmi.org/map_menu.htm) makes available on the Web “thumbnail” images of over 100 maps of missions themes, available on overhead transparency or CD-ROM.
If your heart is focused on a particular people group, check out the “prayer profiles” at Bethany World Prayer Center: 1,041 “prayer profiles” covering 1,632 unreached people groups at www.bethany.com/profiles/home.html. Most of the profiles include a simple map showing where the particular people group lives.
If you travel across the U.S. during home assignment, you may find the highway maps on the Web of value. The Web is also great for finding the address (along with a local map of the area) of individuals, businesses, and churches. Many organizations are putting on the Web a simple street map and driving directions to their location— for you to download, print, and arrive on time.
Receive driving directions—step by step instructions from where you are to where you want to be—at MapQuest (www.mapquest.com). For instance, if you want to drive to Global Mapping International, enter the organization name and the city name and you are given the street address. Then, for a local map of the area, enter the street address and a neighborhood map appears with a red star at 7899 Lexington Drive.
Print the map, e-mail it to a colleague, or get driving directions. Selecting “door to door,” you receive turn by turn directions from—for instance—the Colorado Springs airport to GMI’s office. Or, select “city to city” directions and receive instruction for driving from Colorado Springs to Phoenix, Arizona. Print the directions and the map if you wish.
Likewise, the U.S. Census Bureau presents its “TIGER” maps for every place in the US, at tiger.census.gov/. The quality is not up to AAA standards, but it does give comprehensive coverage of U.S. places.
For most of the U.S. today, and for the major cities of the world, you can also access street maps at City.net (www.city.net/).
However, be warned: Most free U.S. street maps on the Web are only as good as the last government census work; errors are common in newly developed suburbs.
Can you see the future? Tomorrow’s cars will come equipped with a GPS1 and a mobile Internet connection, to constantly compare your current longitude and latitude with detailed computerized maps, including business locations.
Political boundaries change so rapidly in today’s world. People groups move rapidly in times of crisis. Social, economic, and natural disasters quickly call our attention to previously overlooked spots. Once again, the Web is a great place to keep us current. For instance, the University of Texas Web site has dozens of current maps on Kosovo. Or, go to your favorite search engine to find maps of a particular place. For instance, at Alta Vista (www.altavista.com) entering the words “+map +Kosovo” (without the quotes) gives you nearly 60,000 hits.
Wall maps make a dramatic statement and focus people’s attention. Raven maps “represent the merging of truth and beauty”; indeed, you can preview some of the most beautiful wall maps of the world and U.S. states at www.ravenmaps.com. As always, National Geographic is a leader in detailed, accurate maps. And, for a world map that covers your entire wall, check out the wallpaper map at www.gmi.org/products/wallmaps. htm.
To create your own maps, the Web provides a wealth of information about mapping software packages. For quick and easy, popular maps look at Microsoft’s Virtual Globe (encarta. msn.com/evg/default.shtm). For navigation, try Street Atlas USA (www.delorme.com/streetatlasusa/). For address mapping of homes in U.S. neighborhoods (for evangelism planning), see the Mapping Center for Evangelism’s software at www.map4jesus.org. For international missions mapping, the Global Ministry Mapping System (www.gmi.org/products/gmms.htm) might meet your need.
OTHER FUN AND USEFUL MAPS
Planning and packing for that missions conference next weekend? Check out the weather forecast for practically anywhere on Earth via maps at World Weather Links (www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/3452/weather.html#new#l).
Meeting your spouse at the airport (arriving home from that missions conference)? Use the realtime FlightTracker (www.thetrip.com/usertools/flighttracking/graphica VfindVform/1, 1346,14,OO.html) to watch planes in flight and find actual landing and take-off times.
Most major airports now provide a map of their terminals on the Web. Trip.com has maps of major U.S. airports at www.trip.com/content/airport/index/O,1322,1-4,00.html
The world map at www.fourmilab. ch/cgi-bin/uncgi/Earth/action?opt=-p shows you the path of the sun—where it is day and where it is night at the current time.
Where am 1? Where am I going? How do I get there? Classic missionary questions—and now many of the answers you need can be found on maps delivered to your desk via the Web.
1. A “Global Positioning System” uses satellite data to track exact longitude, latitude, and elevation.
A. Scott Moreau is editor of EMQ and chair of Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.). His email address is A.S.Moreau@wheaton.edu and the Wheaton Missions Department web address is www.wheaton.edu/intr
Mike O’Rear is the president of Global Mapping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.), which is dedicated to providing access to information for church and mission leaders, especially in the Majority World. He also serves as Lausanne senior associate for information technology. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and the GMI web address is www.gmi.org
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