“Police bugged the building. They took one of our church members. The government is watching our every move. The lights will be off and the curtains drawn. Worship will be whispered. This is life in a restricted access nation.”

That’s what we told the youth at Lifepointe Church in Prescott Valley, Arizona on Wednesday night.

Note: Our secret church service was not related to David Platt’s Secret Church.

“Just attending this service may be risky,” we told them, and we could see the concern on their faces.

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Not long after they arrived for the regular midday youth group, we marched 60 junior high and high school youth outside in the cold, signaled across the campus with flashlights, and told them not to make a sound. They snuck in the back of the church building in silence, ascended a darkened stairwell, and crammed inside a small room.

In hushed tones, I recounted stories of my many interrogations in China while traveling among unreached people groups. I shared testimonies of life transformation through our ministry, Within Reach Global.

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One of the highlights of the secret church service to remember our persecuted brothers and sisters was talking to one of our Chinese missionaries live online. This young lady who got saved through our college student ministry ministers to and oversees 250 orphans in 74 villages in rural China. We’ll call her “Bright Eyes”.

She spoke Mandarin Chinese as I translated for the group of American young people. There was pin drop silence in the small room. Everyone was riveted to the screen, to her powerful testimony, to the reality of the persecuted world.

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“I pray that you would remember this night,” I told the group. “Remember that you have a part to play in God’s epic redemptive salvation plan.”

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We prayed for Bright Eyes in English. She prayed for us in Chinese. Then everyone gathered around me and prayed for the ministry of Within Reach Global. We ended the evening with a single guitar and whispered worship, singing, “Jesus, Holy and Anointed One.”

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The presence of God was palpable. The Holy Spirit invaded our space and the Kingdom of God altered the atmosphere. I pray that the young people who attended this replica of the secret church will never be the same again.

If you want to get involved at Within Reach Global, you can volunteer, come on a short-term trip, become a long-term missionary, join the monthly prayer and financial support team, and continue to pray for our team of pioneer missionaries.

 

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Hear more moving stories from the mission field in David Joannes’ book, The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary.

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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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