My friend Toby at The Asian Rough Rider just posted something highly notable, and something I have been hashing over for a long time. He, of course is Asian, so it seems that it would be natural for him to think that Asian missionaries are extremely effective. I am “the tall white dude” he writes about, but being married into the Philippines culture, there is no doubt in my mind the great effectiveness of Asian American (or simply Asian) missionaries.

If you’re blessed to be Asian, this article is for you! I, along with Toby, challenge you to rise up and take your place in the final frontier of missions, specifically among unreached people groups with The Asian Rough Rider or Within Reach Global!


Have you ever asked yourself if engaging the lost in some far-off country was something you could do? Have you ever considered being a cross-cultural worker for the Kingdom? Your parents, as refugees and migrants, might think you are insane for even considering going back to the country they left. But don’t fret, all things Jesus is insane. There are 6 reasons why I believe that we Asians are in a prime position to be at the forefront of world missions today. 

Reason 1)  A Globalized World: Just Google It

Never before in history has the world been more connected, resources more abundant, people more available and opportunities so great for Kingdom expansion. Globalization has created a much smaller world and this has great implications for advancing the Gospel. We live in a world where the unreached are more accessible than ever. There is no excuse to be unaware. We have info on all the Peoples of the world at our fingertips. Just by living in America you have the information, means and methods to do anything your mind can possibly dream up.  With enough will power, creativity, commitment and team-work, Asians can physically reach any group in the world, despite the political and geographical barriers.

Reason 2)  Diversified Leadership: Karate-Choppen Christian

Did you know that there are more chopsticks than there are people in the world? That should count for something. China is soon to overcome the U.S. in its economic output—not to mention the already burgeoning Chinese population at 1.3 billion. Global economic and military supremacy is rapidly being shifted from the West to the East.  America itself will become completely multi-cultural by 2040 when there will no longer be a racial majority, so move over Joe Blow here comes Somsackdy Saysavongthalathsavath—with fists of fury.

In the same way there is a shift happening in world missions. For a long time now white folks have been leading the helm of pioneer missions to the ends of the earth. This is slowly changing. As churches in Eastern and Asian nations become more established they are sending out their own cross-cultural workers. There are many emerging Asian leaders who are coming into their own and developing effective strategies to reach the worlds remaining people groups.

Reason 3)  Strategic Entry: The Art of the Ninja

Ever heard of the 10/40 Window? It’s an area of longitude and latitude on the map that describes where the world’s largest populations of non-Christians are located – which also includes the world poorest. This window comprises countries in Northern Africa, the Middle East, West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia and South-East Asia. Roughly two-thirds of the world population live there and most are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, and Atheist.  Many governments in these areas are formally or informally opposed to Christian work of any kind within their borders.

What type of people do you think are more noticed in these often hostile countries?  The tall white dude who stands three heads above the rest? Or the humble little Asian dude who no one notices? In an increasingly resistant and hostile world trust remains a vital issue. Asians are generally seen to be more passive, at least that’s the stereotype. Asians, like Ninja’s, can move easily between these countries simply because they draw less attention. You are a Ninja and you didn’t even know it.

Reason 4) Pioneering Opportunities: Caramel Faces

Just the other day we sat in a thatched house in a tiny little village at the foot of a mountain range. It was the last village on the map because beyond the mountain was another Asian country. For hours we sat telling God stories and explaining the basics to a group of new believers. These Animists have never had a Church among their people since the beginning of time. Here we were seeing the Kingdom advance in a closed communist country where sharing Jesus is illegal, made possible by our Asian faces that allowed us to blend in so well.

Your yellowness (or caramel… whatever flavor you want to be) increases your chances of engaging the unreached where they actually live. You become a prime candidate for dangerous pioneer work. Whether it is an Asian, Middle Eastern or African context, YOU are able to enter difficult places where there are no existing Churches or Christians.

Reason 5) Marketable Skills: Dormant Superheroes

Don’t get hung up on the fact that you need Bible, seminary or Church-planting training to make a meaningful contribution to overseas missions. Missional living can be anything from business, development, media, education, coffee, art, music or even gaming. The fact that you know how to send email puts your technical skills ahead of 80% of the world. The fact that you use toilet paper and wash your hands puts your sanitation skills ahead of 60% of the world. The developing world needs YOU just like the comic book world needs superheroes. Combine marketable skills with creativity, a willing heart and clear end vision and you have yourself an unstoppable superhero force for God to use abroad.

Reason 6) Cultural Awareness: Sticky Rice

Many of us are bi-cultural, meaning we live our lives engaged in two separate cultures at any given time—three if we count our Asian American sub-culture. And if you wear really tight skinny jeans you live on a separate planet altogether. Why do we understand more than one language? Why do we often prefer sticky rice over a sub-sandwich for lunch? It’s because God has entrusted us with the unique ability to adapt to a variety of cultures. We have the sensitivity to learn, experience to engage, and resiliency to love any culture on this planet.

With blessing comes responsibility. We live in a unique time in history where the world is connected, leaders are diverse, trust is elusive, pioneers are needed, young people are skilled, and skinny jeans are trending. If you read deeper into the 6 reasons why Asian Americans make great missionaries you’ll find that it really has little to do with being Asian… but has everything to do with being obedient, because we are all stewards of this Gospel.


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Adapted from The Asian Rough Rider.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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