It’s happening now: the pitter-patter of tattered shoes treading over mountain and valley, rock and heather. Mud clumps cling to the shallow cleats underneath missionary boots, and although the journey slows, our ambition swells. “It has always been my ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known”—this our intention like that of the Apostle Paul. Or stated more concisely in the Message: “This has all been pioneer work, bringing the Message only into those places where Jesus was not yet known and worshipped.”
Enter the Within Reach Global local missionary team.
This band of ragamuffin misfits and fiery church planters comprise of the most unassuming type: former AK-47-brandishing child soldiers, sons of voodoo witch doctors, foaming-at-the-mouth demoniacs whose demons have been exorcized, the poorest of the poor, and marginalized tribals.
But their stories did not conclude with hopelessness. Today these persecuting Saul’s-turned-Paul’s and impoverished untouchables cast the brilliant luminance of the Gospel of God’s grace and glory into regions that know nothing more than darkness. Their newfound passion: honoring God by reaching the unreached people groups of the 10/40 Window.
The following vignettes are modest glimpses of Within Reach Global outreach among peoples who have still never heard of Jesus.
Week after week, we strap on our hiking shoes and hit the precipitous mountain ranges where the unreached reside. Our indigenous missionaries serve among the Miao, Yi, Yao, Wa, Hui, to name only a few ethnic tribes. God’s love the motivating force behind our missional passion, we reach out to the poorest of the poor, the unreached, underprivileged, elderly, and orphaned. Many of these are the “left-behinds” abandoned by mother, father, son or daughter in search of the “Chinese dream” in urbanizing cities. Whole villages are unreached, clutched in the claws of an age-old dragon, forgotten and without a witness of the Gospel.
Of these regions, 19th-century missionary Robert Moffat said,
“In the vast plain to the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been—villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.”
In other villages, among the Miao tribe, for example, there exists a shred of Gospel witness: old government-run churches where the presence of the Holy Spirit is no longer allowed to occupy. We visit these vast regions to kindle revival, spark true repentance, and cultivate spiritual growth.
The shoddy roads to these villages are a steep, slippery incline of mud and gravel. Come rainy days, these narrow paths become treacherous. Landslides are common and whole roads have disappeared into gaping valleys as the torrents rip tree root from rock. We have often dodged boulders and stones as they hurl from above to the roads we travel. Night travel—a necessary evil of arduous jaunts in China’s agrarian countryside—is a grave endeavor. With every step near sheer cliff, we pray God’s protection over our missionary team. That and courage. Missionary work of this sort is not for the weak of heart. But our missionaries are unwavering in purpose, thankful for God’s divine leading and the promise of protection.
We believe in faith in action, an expression of the holistic Christian Gospel. When we travel to these unreached regions to share the Gospel message we often bring rice, vegetable, spices, and basic necessities. Hearts open when we reach out in love by meeting physical human needs.
This tribal grandmother takes care of her mute and deaf granddaughter. The child’s parents have abandoned her in search of a better life in the nearby county. Whenever we visit her we sense a spark of hope and joy arise in this elderly woman. It is natural for people to feel the love of God radiating from the body of Christ! We took this photo as we were leaving her dilapidated home. She didn’t want us to go and so she continued standing outside her house, begging us to stay longer. We promised to return and visit her.
This elderly woman lives alone in a ten square meter mud hut. Her poverty was evident, eating nothing but wild greens on a daily basis. Once while we were praying for and ministering to her, she suddenly fainted. We were alarmed, concluding that old age and her meager diet had weakened her body over time. We helped her to her bed, worshipping together around her bedside and reading passages of scripture. A single light bulb hung over us, casting faint light. But the light of the Gospel in the face of Jesus was radiant!
Upon further visits, we marveled that her strength slowly began to return. She now listens to God’s word and worship on an MP3 player that we gifted her. This small dose of generosity has been a lifeline to her. The last time we visited this granny she said “I am getting older and weaker. I’m not sure how much longer I have. I’m afraid that the next time you come back to visit me, I won’t be here anymore.” We pray for the seed of truth to bloom in her heart and pray that we will someday see her dancing on streets of gold.
Brother Liao is one of our new “Timothy’s”. His first encounter with the Gospel was when we shared about God’s glory during an Easter outreach. After a week of discipleship, he was baptized with the Holy Spirit! We strive to make disciples who live like Jesus. Our greatest desire is to see Him glorified through our lives despite the difficulties and challenges of being a Christian in this country. And so it is with our new Brother Liao. Every day we spend time together with him, praying, reading the Bible, sharing meals, and serving the Lord so that he might see the full life that we have in Jesus! We continue to hope and pray that he hears the call of God to minister alongside us in reaching the unreached.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2
One of the most life-giving outreaches at Within Reach Global is caring for orphans in the mountainous regions where we minister. Although most of them have lost their parents, they have found new hope after realizing that their Heavenly Father loves and cares for them.
Our prayer, one which we invite you to join us in praying, is that these children will grow in the love of God and bear lasting fruit. Please pray also that God will provide us with the finances and co-laborers to establish a “Father’s House” children’s home for these precious little ones.
There is not enough time to share all the incredible stories of God’s grace with you! We have been encouraged by the many testimonies of changed lives among these orphaned children. Many of them are growing in their spiritual lives and, even at a young age, are learning to preach the Gospel! These bold little prayer warriors are standing in the gap for people around them, finding deep joy in prayer, and crying out to God for the lost.
In our China context, street preaching and overt outreach are highly illegal. Still, we often stand in the city square, singing worship songs and openly preaching the Gospel! When the Holy Spirit leads us into seemingly precarious situations, we have no choice but to gladly obey Him. We lay hands on perfect strangers and pray for their needs. Once while we were preaching openly on the streets, a police officer pushed his way to the front of the crowd. Initially, we presumed that we were in trouble and another long interrogation at the police station would soon follow. Instead, the police officer had come to hear the Gospel message! We prayed for him and for his family.
During yet another time of public street preaching, a middle-aged man came to the city square to hear the Gospel message that we were sharing. That day, he had been planning to commit suicide, but after hearing the message of Jesus he repented, burst into tears, and told us the depths of his difficult life journey. We ministered to him long into the evening. We are to be a light in the midst of darkness! Praise God for his grace!
We also regularly go to the hospitals to pray for the sick. This missional outreach has opened many doors for the Gospel to take root and countless lives have heard the Gospel for the very first time—many just in the nick of time as they lay on their death beds!
This is the advent of the Kingdom of God. God’s grace and glory know no boundaries. Geographical coordinates are a trivial notion to a God who dwells outside the restraints of time and space. Christian outreach in Seattle or Dallas or Boston is as meaningful to God as Kingdom ministry in Bangkok or Beijing, Copenhagen or Cairo.
Our prayer is that you are encouraged and inspired to join us in reaching the unreached and taking the Gospel message to places that have never heard.
To love the things of God—to adore God Himself—is to care about the things He cares for, namely people. People everywhere, not just at home. Souls on the brink of eternity at every geographical juncture of our planet.
And as Jesus is lifted up, men, women, and children are mysteriously drawn to Him only to find the source of true life.