Shrouded and obscured within the mysteriously misty regions of China’s bucolic backwoods, a group of Chinese minorities crisscross the footpaths from their ramshackle homes to another shoddy structure that doubles as both one family’s living space and an underground Church.

The climate is unrelenting here: subzero temperatures hunting for victims, the cold seeping through tattered clothing and porous skin, attempting to drain life from their very beings.

These are the secret regions of China, a dystopia that juxtaposes the famed and harmonious depictions of Shangri-La, geographical coordinates that most Westerners will never lay eyes upon. Here is home to some of China’s ethnic peoples, the forgotten, the forsaken, the precious despised.

But they have something going for them that many have overlooked: the Kingdom of God—permeated by glory, suffused with delight—is in their midst. The very air is brimming with wonder, hope, peace, expectancy as the King comes to dwell with “the least of these.”

Today, it is negative seven degrees Celsius, stone cold, bone-chilling. The path to church is rocky and rutted, and the travelers’ breath hangs silent, sailing across the surreptitious fog. It is an apt depiction of the contrast between this life and the life to come. They go with longing for the presence of God, for the grace and glory of the Kingdom to be revealed in their midst. They pine for their true homes, but for the time being, they will withstand unfavorable circumstance in this temporal dwelling.

Shrouded and obscured within the mysteriously misty regions of China’s bucolic backwoods, a group of Chinese minorities…

Posted by Within Reach Global on Thursday, January 19, 2017

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In his book, Spiritual Rhythm, Mark Buchanan sums up the conundrum in articulate fashion:

“Each season has its beauty. And yet each season’s beauty has a bait-and-switch operation at work within it: it draws us in only to draw us out, to take us elsewhere, to get our hopes up only to set our hopes on something else, something better, something bigger. That something else and bigger and better is heaven. Miss this, you’ll waste your life chasing that which no season can create but only hint at, only beckon us toward.”

Please do not feel sorry for these your brothers and sisters in the faith. Resist the alluring temptation to allow empathy to cloud your judgment of their would-be plight. Yes, these precious ones are severely impoverished. They lack the barest of necessities, the most fundamental commodities, the trappings of which the Western world has come to enjoy and be bound by.

Instead of common things, they have Jesus. In place of electricity, they hold the current of the Holy Spirit. In lieu of heated homes, they boast a fire in their bones.

“These people love the Lord with all their hearts,” Bright Eyes, our Chinese missionary tells us. “They are hungry for the things of God and they crave deeper biblical insight.”

Is this not commendable? Perhaps even shameful to us who have so much and yet, oftentimes, so little? Does this not challenge our hunger for a holy God?

I pray this: that you would press deeper, go farther, pray longer, despite storm and winter cold, and come to experience the depth of your Heavenly Father’s love for you. For once you sense His heart beating, warming, filling your quivering, rickety bones, perhaps you too might begin to feel the bud of love growing for humankind as well.

And that’s when everything changes.

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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