As a proudly self proclaimed cross cultural Missional Starter (there may be a few others out there who also consider me a pioneer), I am coming to grips with the reality of my need for rest between exotic explorations.

I have always been a go go go kind of guy.

Status quo bores me.
The commonplace is just so common.
The mundane and mediocre make me fidgety.

I am defined by the bilingual text on my Within Reach Global t-shirt: 我是开拓者 I am a trailblazer.

“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and make a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson [CLICK TO TWEET]

In my field of expertise of Christian missional ministry, I have traveled from the Black Sea to the Great Wall, from call center ridden Hyderabad to skyscraper clad Hong Kong.

I have celebrated nearly every birthday since my sixteenth outside my country of origin (I dare not use the term “home” as flippantly as I used to. Home to me no longer demands geographic coordinates.)

I have been slapped on the face by Chinese border guards, questioned in Asian police stations, dodged police cars on rural mountaintops, and interrogated deep into the night more times than I can count on my hands and feet.

“You sound more like a convict than a pioneer!” you may point out. And as a Missional Starter in restricted access nations hostile to the Christian gospel, I’d have to partially agree. Because persecution is both a promise from Jesus and byproduct of obedience to him who dares take the message of love to unreached and unengaged people groups. [CLICK TO TWEET]


But after all the epic stories and twists in exploratory plots, I am starting anew yet once more. And new transitions usher in the quiet space between pioneering.

I covet that quiet space, yet strangely, I have not allowed myself the luxury of rest as often as my body, soul and spirit have required it.

Finally, I am learning to rest along the path long enough to catch my breath, to see the trail disappear in the misty distance, take in the scenery, and prepare to set out again.

“Oh God, replace this restless spirit with a thankful heart.”

I am still a Missional Starter. My sights are still set on unreached people groups in the 10/40 Window. But I am at ground zero in a new culture, language and missionary scenario.

But you know what? It feels good to be green again. It feels good to experience a lull in the action, to pause and reflect, to rest.

And that’s what God is interested in, isn’t he? Our wholeness and wellness, as his weathered staff curls gently around our necks, the Shepherd leading his sheep toward a placid oasis along the road less traveled? [CLICK TO TWEET]

Jesus knew his purpose. He clung to his goal. And yet he was intentional about quiet, alone time with his Father. In the midst of his quest to seek and save that which was lost, Jesus found strength in the silent space away from crowds.

I am still quite busy. My hands are always in a number of different pots at the same time. But this new season of favor and rest—the quiet space between pioneering—is helping me prioritize my goals as the next unique narrative is about to commence.


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After 13 years of evangelism, discipleship and church planting in China, David and his wife and daughter are now living and ministering in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They are overseeing the ministry of Within Reach Global as it expands throughout unreached regions in Southeast Asia.

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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