Once again, I find myself leaving behind the country of my birth. After a four-month stay in America, I am returning to China and Thailand. The memories that were birthed here in America are very poignant at present.

Like when I was ten years old. I was riding my bike in Prescott Valley when suddenly my front tire skid over a patch of dirt, and I wrecked.

Or like the weekly excursions to Ken lindley park with my homeschool group.

And like Pop Warner baseball season in the dusty Arizona heat.

At the advent of these memories, the words of J.R.R. Tolkien become strikingly poignant:

Little by little one travels far.

There are times when, day after day, nothing seems to change. But when we turn our heads to look back over the past, everything is different.

Oftentimes we cannot understand the struggles that come along the journey. But day after day, the sunsets of our lives are tinged with the multicolored hues of God’s grace and glory. And by joy.

Oh to find more joy in the journey.

So I find myself mentally returning to the geographical coordinates where newer, more recent memories reside.

Where I dined with Mister Xiao, a former headhunting Wa tribal man. His sheathed blade hung behind me upon the bamboo walls of his hut as he told me of the first human head he severed at age thirteen.

I am reminded of midnight interrogations on the China / Vietnam border; of being caught by soldiers toting AK-47s from the United Wa State Army in Myanmar; of the stealthy bathtub baptisms in urban China.

I look back. Everything has changed.

God has been so gracious in using me to help plant 25 house churches in China. I have been privileged to pioneer 6 outreach centers at Within Reach Global, oversee nearly thirty missionaries, and bring the gospel message to thousands of unreached people groups in the 10/40 Window.

I take a deep breath. Leaving family will again be difficult. Watching my three-year-old daughter cry as she says goodbye to grandma will not be easy. Turning my back on the material comforts of my country of origin will be frustrating.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last four months in America, it’s that I am made for Asia. And there’s no other place I’d rather be than in the perfect will of God.

As I will soon be boarding a plane across the Pacific, I am reminded by C.S. Lewis that:

There are far, far better things ahead.


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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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