The China years don’t ever seem to stop for us.

The storyline of our lives are entwined with the Motherland.
We are caught in the web of the Middle Kingdom.

Lorna and I have spent hundreds of hours on rough rural roads in Southwest China’s province where some of the least reached people groups of Southeast Asia still wait for the Christian gospel message. We have eaten the most extreme delicacies. We have been attacked by Mao’s Revenge more times than we can remember. We have been interrogated by the authorities over 12 times. We have led short term teams from all over the world to link hands in partnership to reach the unreached. We have hosted underground trainings with thousands of Chinese Church leaders. We have raised up a powerhouse team of local missionaries who are reaching their own ethnic tribes for Jesus.

But we cannot take any glory. We can only say to God, “All that we have accomplished, you have done for us.”

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Our good friend at Jumay Designs created this full color book of memories for us, and we are so blessed as we thumb through each nostalgic page.

The China years have been full of ups and downs; enriching friendships and deep loneliness; great gospel breakthrough and desperate struggle; victory and tragedy; health and sickness; hope and hope deferred.

As China can only be described with the one word “relative”, (“How’s the bathroom?” “It’s pretty good. I mean, compared to others.”) so too have our years in the country been full of juxtaposition, sweet sorrow, bitter sweetness.

But in the end, we see more glory than ashes. We sense more providence than anything else.

20 years ago this year, I (David) celebrated my sixteenth birthday in China while smuggling Bibles to the underground Church. Two decades later, we still find ourselves purchasing plane tickets from Thailand to China at least four times a year as we oversee the ministry of Within Reach Global.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Sometimes we wonder, “Why did God call us to do this?” There are many more qualified people out there. Like Gladys Aylward once reminisced:

“I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China. I don’t know who it was. It must have been a man—a well–educated man. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. And God looked down… and saw Gladys Aylward. And God said, ‘Well, she’s willing.’”

Long after the transient community of missionary masses have ebbed, making their exoduses, we are still dedicated to sowing into the future Great Commission harvesters in China.

Sometimes willingly. Often with scrunched eyebrows.

At the end of the day, we are so grateful for all those who have stood behind us in prayer and support, helping us do all that God has called us to. We are so thankful for our vision partners and prayer warriors. We know that we are but a small part of the Body of Christ, playing our part, watching where God leads and following him there.

Join the Within Reach Global Monthly Prayer and Financial Support Team here.


Not satisfied with where the path leads. Blazing new trails. Pioneering.

The China years continue for Lorna and I, and our daughter, and we look forward to creating many more beautiful memories together.



Created by Jumay Designs

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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