I have spent some serious time on rural Chinese mountain tops, hours conversing with former headhunting tribes, ethnic minorities and unreached people groups. Real life people kind of ministry, where life rubs off onto life, and handshakes and hugs and smiles ensue. Conversations usually take place over wok fried leafy greens and spicy oil based mystery meat, followed by the inevitable and notorious Mao’s Revenge.

But now I find myself considering a paradigm shift in the way we reach unreached people groups at Within Reach Global. It is easy to become irrelevant or even extinct in many missions circles. I want to be avant garde, on the cusp of the new shifts that God is bringing to global evangelism among the unengaged.

But now I find myself considering a paradigm shift in the way we reach unreached people groups at Within Reach Global.

Avant garde: the advance group in any field, especially in the visual, literary or musical arts, whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods.

For well over ten years I have taken long 24 hour overnight sleeper buses to tribal villages on the borders of China, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. I have seen hundreds come to Christ after hearing the gospel for the very first time. So yes, reaching the remaining unreached people groups of the 10/40 Window is and always will be my passion.

The catch is, there is a mass generational exodus that has occurred in Asia’s rural regions as young and middle aged people seek opportunities in the big cities. Visit a village with me. It is no longer inhabited by people from the age of 15 to 35.

There is a mass generational exodus that has occurred in Asia’s rural regions as young and middle aged people seek opportunities in the big cities. Visit a village with me. It is no longer inhabited by people from the age of 15 to 35.

The world has shifted. Am I willing to evolve with it?

National Geographic’s recent 7 Billion issue has enlightened me to some interesting facts.

In 1800, there were 3 cities with a population of one million or more.
In 1900, there were 16.
In 1950, there were 74.
In 2010, there were 442.

Catch my drift

Check out Tim Keller on God’s Global Urban Mission:

So here’s what I am considering: why spend all week atop a rural mountain, pinching children’s cheeks and straining to understand toothless grannies if there is a better way to reach the world’s unengaged?

Yes, there is value in trips to rural regions. I personally enjoy time spent in tribal villages, and I will be taking more visiting teams there soon. But today, unreached ethnic people groups are flooding to the big cities, making my job as a missional starter much easier.

Yes, there is value in trips to rural regions. I personally enjoy time spent in tribal villages, and I will be taking more visiting teams there soon. But today, unreached ethnic people groups are flooding to the big cities, making my job as a missional starter much easier.

My time would be better spent at the Nationalities College where over 16,000 ethnic college students live and study just outside The Hub outreach center.

See what John Piper has to say about Why Cities Are Important For Reaching The Unreached:

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Reach these students and reach their families. Reach their families and reach their communities. Reach their communities and Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled faster: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world, as a testimony to every nation [ethnolinguistic people group], and then the end will come.”

The city impacts the village.

I can help create exponential Christian growth through creative, artistic, and relevant ministry mediums if I am willing to reconsider the bigger picture of what God is doing to speed his return.

 

See this post on withinreachglobal.org

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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