The year 2014 was a year of vision brought about by the experience gained from years past and the hope elicited by years to come. It saw darkness in the form of rebellions, explosions, stabbings and earthquakes. It witnessed adventure in the form of many voyages and it sparked our imaginations with various ruminations. It saw pig-brain diets, flying paint and a Buddhist monk pedicure. It saw 15 unreached villages visited, 200+ English corner attendees, 165 student camp attendees, 162 Christian leaders trained, 20 baptisms, and 41 salvations. It saw light in the eyes of the many who were touched by the Hand that holds the world. Yes. 2014 was quite an interesting year, and Within Reach Global was right in the thick of it all.
We began 2014 with a brilliant reminder of why we should set new trails ablaze among unreached people groups. (No. It had nothing to do with arson.) We then went on a week-long, 15,000+ mile journey across the (urban) jungles of America, connecting with churches for fundraising and advocacy. We presume that hearts were set afire, because 7 teams were scheduled to spread the flame to China. A city of 100,000 college students waited with bated breath for the fire of the gospel to touch them. As we waited, we paused and reflected, and we discovered that the world really does look like a 28-year-old Chinese man. Selah. Can’t pause and reflect all month long, so construction continued on our new Burma outreach center. Then they all started coming in droves! Tribes from all over the province on a mass exodus to the big city. Caught in a flood of Chinese youth, we were faced with the wondrous possibilities of reaching unreached people groups in urban settings. Rubbing our palms together, we knew in our hearts that great things were yet to come for Within Reach Global in 2014. We celebrated by feasting on some disgusting things on a missionary’s diet. Yum!
February meant more fire! With Chinese New Year festivities in full throttle, the firecrackers kept going off, as if to remind us of the madness of previous years: the pig and the tiger. Meanwhile, over by the edge of China and far from all the celebratory ruckus, one of our local missionary families moved into our new outreach center in Myanmar. This was by no means a comfort zone for them, especially with a baby in tow, but missions comes with risk. And risk is all the more exciting when it comes with a suspension bridge! Steady your wobbly knees with a wobbly bridge! Conquer your fears and say no to comfort zones. Be like all these people who have expressed interest in getting involved with Within Reach Global on the mission field. Send out the exodus, because really… who would want to get Left Behind? (No pun intended.)
When paint starts flying everywhere, you know something fun and interesting is going on. Such goings on were all about as we beautified our brand new outreach center: The Hub Outreach and Hospitality Center. NOW OPEN. But wait! There’s more! March also saw the opening of our Amazon Smile – all for your shopping and donating conveniences. But as it is on the mission field, great light can also come with great darkness. Knees were bent in prayer and tears were shed when news of a deadly knife attack and mass stabbing at the train station made the news. Still, amidst the turmoil, the light shines – sparks of love and a servant spirit kindled the fire in an unreached village, with our local missionary giving a Buddhist monk a pedicure while sharing the gospel with him. And just because light is good at piercing through even the darkest of nights, 300 college students attended our English corner outreach every week, and we began working with orphans in the countryside.
This busy month, the dead came to life in bathtubs as we dunked Chinese college students during bathtub baptisms. An underground training, which didn’t necessarily happen under the ground, was also held for 30 Christian leaders. And because we continue to pray and hope for more dunkings and trainings, we created a shiny new donation page to make giving easier. We then sat down and documented every day of April’s missions history, because why not? It’s good to look back and see the hand of God moving through the sands of time. It’s also good to find inspiration in the gratefulness seen on the faces of Chinese Christians receiving Bibles for the very first time. What wasn’t good was finding out that China got accused of promulgating an anti-Christian campaign as they demolished churches. Ah, yes. This is the mission field. Every day, the war rages on.
The fact that he is crippled didn’t stop one of our local missionaries from reaching the unreached, so getting stuck in the mud could do little to keep him from going to an unreached village. What’s our excuse again? Selah. While he was trying to get out of the mud, hundreds of kilometers away, 9 new believers were baptized. No bathtubs this time! Just a gushing waterfall. All 9 were from the unreached Yao tribe. If by reading all this, you still don’t realize how fun it is to be a missionary, we gave you 10 reasons why you should be a missionary. We also created silly memes of how to ruin a short term missions trip. Just for fun. (The creating memes part. Not the ruining mission trips part.) What was also really fun was seeing 120 of China’s future leaders at our student camp, where their lives got rocked for Jesus. The police missed the heavenly memo on Christians being not only fun, but also unstoppable, so they warned our local missionary not to go and preach the gospel. She went anyway, but not without company. She had a group of orphans she was discipling in tow, and the orphans gave food to the homeless! Unbelievable gospel love!
On a more serious note, this we have to understand: persecution is real. It’s not all fun and games. June saw panic and boldness warring against each other across the nation as China continued its anti-Christian cross removal. It was the perfect time to remember the Tiananmen Square massacre as China got amnesia and ponder over where the zeros are: zero churches, zero disciples, zero missionaries. It was a time to look back at all those years spent traveling to rural villages, and reflect on 4 ridiculous things Jesus never said about missions. June came to a close with preparations for two visiting teams, but it couldn’t end without us realizing that China is China in all its strange and (sometimes) disturbing ways when we found out about how they dealt with internet addicted teens.
We made a list of all the much needed supplies we should pack, then headed to the jungles of Southwest China. With us were two teams from America who had balloon sword fights with unreached village kids, and shared the gospel to people waiting at the other end of our obedience. We hiked up to a 20 story Buddhist statue and prayed for the city (not to the statue, of course). We raised our hearts and voices in intercession for the prevalent poverty. We prayed for connections – friendships – with unreached peoples. We also prayed for the food, especially after we somehow managed to eat pig brains on the way. They’re really not that bad. *gag* Try it! We shared the gospel to hundreds of students at our student outreach, and a few days after our two teams left, more dunking happened! Six new believers got baptized by our local missionaries. A month of wonderful breakthrough and transformation ended with sudden tragedy, when our 5-month pregnant local missionary dealt with life-threatening health issues. (She has since then almost fully recovered, and her baby has been delivered and is healthy. Praise God!) Still, even with the ongoing tug-of-war between light and darkness, we give Him our praise!
Adversity plagued our team during the first weeks of August. Tuberculosis, stomach issues, flu symptoms, and persecution. No fun at all. But health issues birthed a new encouraging website, There Is Yet Hope. And hope was indeed needed after a massive earthquake shook the province, killing 367 people. Shakings and trials like these just may be some of the 10 things that missionaries won’t tell you, which we talked about as we compiled the most epic monster list of missionary quotes on the internet! Three of our local Chinese missionaries went to the Philippines for an intensive Bible school training and ate Filipino food using their hands for the very first time. We began to see an influx of China Church giving to the ministry, as a wealthy Chinese woman donated clothing for underprivileged children in Burma. We then ended August on a much more positive note when we played with children living with HIV/AIDS, making them smile with the small gifts we gave them.
Our weekly English corner outreach among Chinese college students continued, and we saw a hunger growing in the hearts of many new students. You see, God is in the business of revealing himself to lost people. In fact, more students told us they want to be baptized! So we filled up the bathtub again, and dunked some new Chinese Christians who got saved at our outreach center. Miraculous healings took place during a discipleship class, and we were inspired to share our vision with local Chinese Christian businessmen and women who would support the ministry. But instead of simply soliciting funds, something far greater happened! We began regularly meeting with wealthy Chinese, pouring into their lives. Everyone was on the same page: extending the Church to where the Church is not. Meanwhile, as God’s kingdom continued to expand in China, the world’s empires were being shaken: chaos erupted in Hong Kong, and the Umbrella Revolution shook the world, and even the CNN team was gassed during Hong Kong protests.
We were so thankful for your donations to our foreign missionaries, and they were so happy to enjoy a missionary getaway in Thailand! That’s where we rolled out our swanky new organizational structure (nine months in the making), and clarified our vision, mission and values. Meanwhile, back in the motherland (China), our ministry had grown so indigenous that the locals had no problem leading the weekly English corner outreach. You donated the funds we needed for our orphan and underprivileged children birthday bash extravaganza. The kids at the Father’s House had an awesome time, and were so blessed by gospel love. A Chinese atheist met Jesus after trying to debunk Christianity, and then 3 of our local missionaries blessed a Buddhist monk in an unengaged people group by building a kitchen for him. We love these kind of tangible and holistic ways of sharing the gospel!
During our second missionary convention of the year, we ate steamed dumplings and tofu soup, as the convention was led completely by our local missionaries. We have been passionate about raising up a capable group of Chinese missionaries who can reach their nation without foreign support, and we were thrilled to see this begin. Each one of our missionaries took the Gallup Strengthsfinder test and memorized our vision, mission and values. It was a powerful time of prayer and strategizing. It was perfect timing too, because 92 Christian leaders attended our underground training, and our partner pastor shared about how God is going to move through China powerfully. We were excited about how God would continue to use Within Reach Global to impact China and the neighboring Asian nations. The pioneer spirit within us jumped for joy, and our eyes were again turned to the wilderness pathway.
The festive holiday spirit is tough to find throughout China’s cities, so we decided to create our own! 51 college students and missionaries crammed into our small outreach center for an unforgettable Christmas party. Many people heard the gospel for the very first time, and new believers undergoing discipleship training shared their new faith. Many decided to follow Jesus that night! Then a mass exodus occurred as most of our foreign missionaries went home for Christmas. We rested and enjoyed the holidays, thanking God for all that he had done throughout the year. We pray that as you read what God has done in 2014, you would be inspired and encouraged to join us in praying, giving and going to the least reached areas of Southeast Asia with us. We’d like to encourage you to sign up for our monthly newsletters to find out what God has in store for 2015. We are thankful for your support, and for all the prayers you spoke over us! Blessings from Within Reach Global!
Looking Ahead To 2015
2014 was a great year that transitioned us into new beginnings and continued blessing. This coming 2015, we embark on another adventure, expectant that God will continue to expand our territory as well as usher in more souls to His kingdom through this ministry. We envision more unreached villages hearing the name of Jesus. We see more local missionaries rising up and taking up the banner to proclaim God’s kingdom reign over Southeast Asia. We are expecting missionaries from all over the globe to join with us in honoring God and reaching the unreached. More churches will grow in hope, faith and love even amidst persecution.
We have no doubt that 2015 will bring in greater things! We are excited! And we are thankful to you for continuing to join hands with us as we gather in the great harvest of 2015.
“Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” – Isaiah 26:12
All photos by the incredibly talented and beautiful Jumay Designs.