Jesus must have cared about numbers. It seemed that everywhere he went, the crowds followed.

5,000 feasting on a picnic of multiplied fish and bread.
Hundreds of people gawking at Jesus as he overturns tables at a church.
The throngs pressing in to catch a glimpse of the so called Savior as he lugs a cross to Golgotha.

But I get the impression that Jesus was perfectly comfortable in small group settings as well.

Like when a woman doused him with expensive cologne during a dinner party.
Like when he called Zacchaeus down from a sycamore for conversations over red wine.
Like in the late evening hour when he told Nicodemus how much God so loved the world.

But zero in to right here, right now, where I am on my journey of reaching unreached people groups in Southeast Asia.

One question I’ve been dealing with lately is how I measure my successes.

Is it in quantity or quality?
Is it based on the thousands of Chinese I have spoken to about Jesus?
Is it in those few who have met God in an impactful way and gone on to do great things for the kingdom?

Perhaps the more applicable question is: how much is enough in God’s eyes? Or, what truly brings God joy?

This week, my wife and I delegated $1,000 of Within Reach Global finances to buy smart phones for our local and foreign missionaries who have been unable to communicate with us internationally because of technology issues. We bought five used smart phones—Samsung Galaxies and iPhones—for a very good price.

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The next day we received a series of joyous audio messages from our local Chinese missionaries at Pilot outreach center, on the China/Vietnam border.

The sounds of the rural villages we have traveled to for over a decade permeated our ears as we heard our beloved tribal missionaries greeting us in poor Mandarin.

“David and Lorna! How are you?”

Chickens clucked in the background.

“Cara, you’re so cute! We miss you.”

A blackened pot clanked against a stone in their kitchen fire pit.

“Is Thailand hot right now?”

Giggles and a conversation in Yao dialect.

A rustling of the phone against their rough farmer fingers.

“We love you! When are you coming to visit us?”

My wife and I smiled as we listened to the first audio messages they had ever sent from a smart phone.

It was a simple greeting, but filled with grateful emotion. It reminded us of the impact we had made on this previously unreached Yao family as we led them to the Lord, raised them up in the Christian faith, and inspired them to reach their own people group with the gospel.

Is this what God wants? I pondered. I know he’s passionate about every unreached person in the 10/40 Window, but is a giggly audio message from a village near Vietnam enough to make God smile with satisfaction?

I, like God, am also interested in reaching unreached people groups who have yet to hear the gospel. I daily strive to develop our ministry into a powerful conduit of God’s grace to unengaged peoples. I am driven. I have a hard time saying “no” to the needs I see in Southeast Asia. I long to do more with what God has given me, so that by all means, I might reach more communities.

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But that cute audio message is still ringing in my ears, reminding me that God loves the details of life transformation; reminding me that he is smiling down on the few that I have had the privilege of ushering into his kingdom.

The Book of Life is alive with audible sounds of joy and hope. I heard a few of those voices this week, and it made me smile with God.


Photo credit here.

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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