The Seasoned Explorer » Walk the Line

Original blog from Elias Popa, Within Reach Global intern: The Seasoned Explorer » Walk The Line.

After almost 11 hours ride, we finally made it to the tiny village on the top of the mountains near Vietnam. If the car ride didn’t make us uncomfortable, the intense heat and humidity did. Surrounded by tropical forests, banana trees, and pineapple groves, we made our way up the steep windy path. The fierce beauty juxtaposed the intense darkness that was there. I still can’t get it out of my head. How would a place so beautiful, have so little light?  Nevertheless, the light was there. On the very top of the mountain where our underground co-workers were preparing a meal inside their humble home. Tired but in awe we made our way into the house and sat around the table. The dim light lit our table enough just to see each others faces. Together we ate with the body. We heard the testimonies of the miracles and wonders God has done in some of the most intense circumstances. We finished our food and gathered in a circle. Together we prayed for each other, for healing, for life and joy and peace. Then we sang together songs of worship. In that tiny, humble home, the Holy Spirit came in glory. My heart melted within me and yet again my love deepened for the body in chains.

On the next day we visited another village. Yet another hour passed by as we waited to get to the village. I rode on the back of a motorcycle through the vietnamese chinese tropics as the coworker steered the bike. I felt like an adventurer. Like Che before the revolution. The ride was beautiful. The village was at the highest point of a mountain deep inside the plantations and hills. There was a school there. The teacher allowed us to come and and hand out backpacks to the children that had John 3:16 on the back. The children, dressed in their traditional minority clothing, repeated a prayer after us. This was one of the first times anyone had heard the gospel there. No one in that village knew who Jesus was. For all they know he could have been a bar of soap. After praying with the kids we sat down to a traditional meal of snails and other delicacies shared by our co workers. When we headed back down from the village I hopped on the motorcycle and the rest of the team was in the van following behind. As we swerved in and out of the green mountains a team member gave me a call.

“The police have stopped us. They are interrogating us.”

I immediately told him to grab my camera out of my bag and remove the card from it and hide it, along with our bibles. The police men, yelling, began searching through the bags to find any evidence. That card had pictures and video if the kids praying and the co workers. I began praying fervently as myself and three of the co workers stopped on the road asking Jesus to cloak them and let them free. After what seemed like hours, the team members give me a call and say we are free to leave, everything is ok. One of the co workers lets out a deep Hallelujah as a sign of relief. Later I was told that my bag was sitting right there in the open and on the seat for the cops to see, but it was the only one the cops did not check…it was the only bag with all the evidence. In addition, whoever called in us in to the cops gave an exact number of the guys and the girls in the bus. But I had decided at that time to take the motorcycle back into town. So when the cops numbered out how many were in the bus, their numbers did not line up. There was no proof. Jesus is greater than any other. Truly, he walks the line.

Afterwards we climbed the southern most peak of China overlooking Vietnam… we prayed. We prayed that the gates to Vietnam would be opened and that the workers would make their way in to reap the reward of the suffering of the Lamb of God. He deserves those souls…and we want everything to do with making sure he gets them.

Later that evening we gathered around another meal and heard the awesome and great testimonies of some of the most humble and heroic men and women I have ever met. Really, when we get to heaven, you will see these guys as giants. Stories of grace and hope as well as despair and pain. But Christ had center stage the entire time. One of the people there is even translating songs and stories for his minority group to hear the gospel, which they have never heard. After time and time he said, for 10 years, the government took everything they had and even destroyed their house, he still is compelled to preach the gospel. I am proud to say he is also my friend.

God is so good. Once I was a chief of sinners. Living my life like hell on earth. But he was long suffering. He never gives up. He never backed off. He chased me and chased me until I listened. Now, I chase him with all my heart. I crawled, stumbled, walked, ran over fields to find him. It brought me to China. To Vietnam and who knows where else. He sat me at the table where I don’t belong. I am truly blessed beyond measure. I never thought I would find myself at the corner of China ministering the gospel with our brothers and sisters in chains to a group of people who have never heard. But I am glad I am. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. I just want to be where I can hear them sing with joy, despite the deepest pain.

Original blog from Elias Popa, Within Reach Global intern: The Seasoned Explorer » Walk The Line.



He is an unlikely hero brimming with unassuming nobility.

But the reality is, if you were to walk past him on a crowded Chinese sidewalk, you might not recognize it. You would notice him, no doubt, as he hobbled past you with shriveled leg, his body suspended in mid step by a pair of worn aluminum crutches. But you might not see the warrior within.

Brother Hu fell from a tree while climbing with boyish vigor at age eight. His parents were too poor to take him to the hospital, so he laid in bed for months in his rural Hani village.

Without the medical care he needed, the muscles in his right leg atrophied and shriveled to a fibula wrapped in skin.

The only thing his parents knew to do was to call the village witchdoctor to perform demonic rituals over their son.

Chickens were sacrificed.
Offerings were made.
Blood was spilled.
But the heaven of the gods was brass.

He was doomed and damned in a nation that had no need of a crippled child.

But God has a funny way of lifting the unassuming from the ashes.

I first met him in 2005, after he was set free from demon possession, and introduced to a Savior by a local Christian missionary in his village. The foaming at the mouth and writhing in the dust halted immediately, he stood up to follow Jesus, and never looked back.

After years of discipling Brother Hu at Within Reach Global, we sent him to an underground Bible school and intensive leadership training. He matured in his walk with God. He grew in his gifts of intercession (he has a keen sensitivity to the spiritual realm) and—surprisingly—his gift of healing.

It’s a unique sight to behold, as a crippled man lays his hand on people, prays for healing, and sees miracles happen in the villages he is church planting among.

I was recently near the China/Laos border with Brother Hu, traveling to unreached people groups in 26 Tribes region. Our team of local missionaries hiked up steep mountains, sharing with people who had never heard the gospel before. And leading the pack was—you guessed it!—Brother Hu, hobbling up the minority trails with a knobby homemade wooden walking stick. (He prefers his wooden cane to crutches while hiking Chinese mountains.)

“Slow down, big guy!” we joked as we followed him up the trail. “You’re making us look bad!”

He smiled, encouraged, but kept his rapid pace.

“This is nothing,” he said. “When I hike into unreached villages, I usually walk 10 miles into the jungle until nightfall. Then I sleep under a tree, wake up, and continue a few more miles to the village!”

“Okay, now you’re really making us look bad!”

I can almost hear heaven cheering as if for an Olympic athlete as Brother Hu hikes into forgotten regions.

As dusk colors the clouds orange and pink, a farmer leans on his hoe, tired from a long day’s work in the fields. He squints into the distance as a shape begins to form on the trails rising to his home. He wonders why a crippled young man is headed to his village. In a few minutes, the tribal farmer will hear about how God loved him so much that he sent his Son to die for him.

His first chance to ever hear the gospel will come in the most unexpected form.

Because Brother Hu agrees with Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

It’s inspiring.
It’s ridiculous.
It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on my own commitment to the call of God.

Brother Hu has led innumerable people to Jesus. He has prayed for countless people, and seen them healed. He has trekked hundreds of miles on a leg and a cane for the sake of the gospel.

He has enough excuses to stay at home, content to simply pray for the lost. But he needs a little more action than that!

Sometimes I don’t think Brother Hu even realizes that he is crippled, which makes me rethink the validity of my many crutches.

What’s holding me back from action for God?
Do my excuses hold that much water?
When will I get off this warm pew?

A crippled young man is fast becoming my hero, shaking me from lethargy, and inspiring me toward greatness.


lornapoetry by davidjoannes, february, 2001


that nostalgic moon)whisks me
away to secret gardens of
delicious memory only
you and i are aware of those
playful days laying with
our eyes to the night Pleiades
grass blades prickly
on our backs.can’t completely
remember our mortal words
only immortal motions
within our hearts flirting
whispers attracting my imagin
ation.moon still singing songs
i’ve heard before(barren of
explanatory words because
rhythm climax chorus are
a scent,a memory)
of non-fiction fantasy
of daydreamy reality
a moment alone with you.


(the three golden stars of Rizal
meant nothing to me that moment
because I was the richest
poor man under the young moon
blowing kisses with gazing eyelids
in the darkgreen grassy park


lornapoetry by davidjoannes, february, 2001


beneath) her steady strength:
bequeathed from
someplace past the
highsky lies
of flimsy flowers’ elegancy

to hold her hand
across careless streets and
dancedancedance Oh.so sweet…

her shiningsmile serenading
kings to their knees
luminous twinkling in
her eyes terrifies
starry galaxies’ crinkling majesty

her beautystrength is the terror
of jealous stars

torrential skies pour liquidpebbles
upon defenceless flowerpetals
(the brutal stoning
of delicate beauty)
she is the whisper of
flimsy flowers’ fragilestrength elegancy

“hero!hero!” from the flood calls she
lady: your fragilestrength
arouses in me


I felt like this was something you really needed to know…

via On Chinese Beaches, The Face-Kini Is In Fashion : The Two-Way : NPR.

Chinese beachgoers wear face-kinis in Qingdao, northeast China’s Shandong province. The face masks allow people to enjoy the water and sand — but not the effects of the sun.

In China, it’s the height of the tourist season for Qingdao’s famed beaches. But while many of the town’s visitors want to enjoy the sand and water, they’re not so wild about sunbathing. So they often resort to a local tradition: the face-kini, a sort of light cloth version of a ski mask.

Often paired with a long-sleeved shirt, the face-kini reportedly costs from $2.40 to $4; many residents simply make their own, out of old clothes. But observers could be forgiven for thinking they’ve stumbled onto a vacation community for superheroes in Qingdao, a city across the East China Sea from South Korea.

The beachgoers aren’t showing their support for the balaclava-wearing Russian band Pussy Riot. And as Le Monde notes, they’re not fans of the film Kick-Ass. Instead, the newspaper says, the head-cover reflects “an ancient sentiment in China, like numerous other countries: a terror of tanning.”

Chinese swimmers wear face-kinis at the public Huiquan Beach in Qingdao, on China’s eastern coast.

In many cultures, a tan doesn’t imply health and leisure, as it often does in Western advertising. Instead, it’s seen as a connection to outdoor work, and the peasantry. Preserving one’s pale skin, the thinking goes, implies that you lead a pampered, successful life.

Of course, there’s another way to accomplish that goal, and still beat the heat: visit an indoor pool. And that’s what Chinese folks do by the tens of thousands. But even that has created a stir.

Photos of a few of China’s gargantuan pools and water parks made news earlier this month — in part for the mass of humanity that seems to fill every foot of available space, and in part because web surfers were scandalized by what they called unsanitary conditions.

The Chinese bulletin board site tt.mop posted several photos showing thousands of people enjoying their (very) close proximity to one another. More than one commenter on the story had the same idea: “dense phobia.”

via On Chinese Beaches, The Face-Kini Is In Fashion : The Two-Way : NPR.