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2012 IN REVIEW

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. I’m pretty happy with it. I am inspired to finish my book in 2013—once I awake from zombie mode because of the recent birth of my baby girl! Yes, there’s a lot of sleep deprivation going on around the Joannes household right now, but there are glimpses of deep inspiration as well. I hope to draw on that inspiration to create a book that satisfies your craving for unique missionary stories.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

JOURNAL ENTRY 12.06.1999

wa woman black teeth
A Wa woman with teeth stained from chewing betal nut

Excerpt from David Joannes’s journal while traveling among unreached people groups and villages in Southwest China.
Journal entry 12.06.1999

At 6:15pm last night our 3:pm bus decided to leave. Right now we still haven’t arrived into K*****g. We’re taking a bathroom break, and everyone is peeing on the side of the street, squatting in ditches. We’ll soon be home… 8:16am

At 10:am we finally arrived into K*****g. It was a long haul, but I actually slept ok on the bus for the first time. Zhong and I were both wanting to beat up the bus driver for being so lazy. The bus station that goes to all the L*****g county stops is called Jinwan Bus Station 金湾客运站。It takes about 16 hours from L*****g to K*****g.

7:55pm:
Back here in K*****g. I’m beat. Henrik called me a while ago. He got back around 4:30pm. He said two guys from the village did come! That’s great. Elder Li was one of them. They are both around 50 years old. Anyway, I pray they catch the fire of God at this training seminar.

D*****g village, outside C******n, is supposedly a Christian village. It seems to be fairly lax there as far as persecution because they say that 70% of the surrounding villages are Christian Wa. The police are mainly looking for drugs and things of that nature. The problem with most of these villages (I’m thinking) is that they are very nominal. For 80 to 90 years they have existed, and are presently living off the thin stream of life coming from the vein of tradition. Most of the young people could care less about Jesus, and most of the villages still smoke, drink, etc. I would only consider them (only from my few days experience in the area) nominal Christians. They still have hymnals and Bibles in Wa script, but a lot of youth can’t read wa script, and sometimes can’t even speak the Wa language. Everything is becoming “Han-ized”. If they are to be passionate, and re-enter the life of the vine, they must surrender. There are still so many unreached Wa. Where now do I direct my energy? But I am praying that Elder Li and this other man become impassioned with the living Christ. I feel that young men are more adequate, but Joel 2:28 says, “your old men shall dream dreams…” This is the beginning of the Wa revival! And don’t forget Tian Guangzhong under the stars of M****o village, for he is God’s chosen…

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070Journal04.21.1999-05.01.2000_IMG_3530
David’s actual journal entry

081
A Wa woman cradles her child in front of their grass hut

our team in a wa village
Traveling with missionary heroes from Denmark, Ireland, America and Holland.

wa smoking old folks
The Wa mafia? Maybe not. Just enjoying a quick smoke on their silver pipes.

wa village bawei
A Wa village where we saw great breakthrough

A CRIPPLED HERO

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.

Chances Are, You Don’t Care

Original post at davidjoannes.com

 

toothy
Photo by Jacob Smith

I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to be honest: the odds are, mathematically, stacked against you.

THE 10/40 WINDOW

  • The 10/40 Window is home to 6,921 unreached people groups. (Joshua Project)
  • 2.82 billion people live in the 10/40 Window.
  • 82% of the world’s poorest of the poor live in the 10/40 Window. (SGWM)
  • Nearly 40% of the world’s population live on less than $1.40 per day in the 10/40 Window.
  • Although 2.8 billion of these people live within the 10/40 Window, only 2.4% of all missionaries work among them.

MONEY AND MISSIONS

  • Annual Income of All Church Members: $30.5 trillion.
  • Given to any Christian causes: $545 billion (1.8% of our income) That’s also how much we spend in America on Christmas.
  • Given to Missions: $31 billion, (0.1%). That’s only 5.7% of the money given to Christian causes of any kind. That’s also how much we spend in America on dieting programs.
  • Money that goes toward the reached world: $26,970,000,000 (that means 87% of the money given to “missions” goes to areas with “reached” status or access to the gospel already).
  • Money that goes toward unreached peoples: $310 million (that’s only 1% of what is given to “missions”). That’s also how much Americans in 2011 spent on Halloween costumes (for their pets).
  • The $310 million (going toward unreached people groups) is only .001% of the $30.5 trillion Income of Christians. For every $100,000 that Christians make, they give $1 to the unreached. (The Traveling Team, Money and Missions)

Excitement and empathy are not enough. Compassion must be put into motion.
It’s empathy with wheels. It’s care with commitment.
Like 1040 Hub says, “It’s where passion and action meet.”

One of my Facebook friends just commented on my status the other day. “I love to see all the neat stuff you’re doing over there on the weird side of the planet!”

I Liked that comment.

It struck me.
I got it.
It was a little more clear to me.

“Your experiences determine what you see,” Craig Groeschel says, and so I write about my weird side of the planet.

Tiger named himself in English. His Chinese name will go unmentioned for security reasons. The first time met him was at The Hub, the Within Reach Global student center where we are reaching out to college kids in the Southwest part of the country.

“There’s no way I will ever become a Christian,” he told me. “I am a communist party member. I can’t believe in God.”

“That’s totally up to you,” I replied.

I’ve found that the best way to share the gospel is to let people make their own decisions instead of force feeding them Jesus on a spoon, or in Tiger’s case, chopsticks. I knew God had his radar on him anyway, and it was only a matter of time before he embraced the life of Christ. “Poor guy! He can’t escape the power of the gospel even if he tried!” I thought to myself.

But Tiger kept coming to The Hub, engaging in relevant conversations about life, God and culture. He was there every Thursday, tricking himself into thinking that he could run from reality of a powerfully good God.

3 weeks after I met him, I asked, “So Tiger, do you believe in God yet?”

“I don’t believe in God, but I trust him.” he told me. “I don’t think he exists, but I feel him,” he continued in self defeating rhetoric. “I am not a Christian, but sometimes I pray to God.”

“I think you’re closer to becoming a Christian than you realize,” I told him with a roguish smile.

A few more weeks passed. Tiger began to realize God’s radar was zoning in on him. We began to see him transforming. “Yep, only a matter of time,” I thought.

After 10 months of sharing life with him, Tiger told us he wanted to become a Christian.

After The Hub English Corner, we found a quiet place in the back room, and prayed together. The atheist’s journey would end that night. A new young man was formed on the 22nd floor of our student center.

Soon after, he began telling his friends about God. He would lead discussions about how Jesus transformed his life. Chinese students listened amazed and confused at his life change.

A few weeks later, we baptized him in a lake at the foot of a thousand year old city.

An atheist turned evangelist. You’ve read stories of that before in Acts, and the 29th chapter is still being penned.

Barry, from the Yi tribe, had a similar story.

Lorna was talking to a group of 11 girls under the shadow of an ancient pagoda as the sunset turned pink and orange on the far horizon of a town 3 hours west of The Hub student center. The girls listened intently, but Barry kept interrupting her.

“I don’t believe in God! Let’s change the subject.” After 20 minutes of his constant interruptions, Lorna finally got fed up. “Why don’t you just shut up and listen!” she said boldly.

The lights clicked on.
A spiritual moment.
Something broke.

Barry gave his life to Christ that night, and couldn’t explain what happened, except that “I feel God’s presence right now,” he said.

Within a month he had led 21 of his friends to the Lord!

These are the stories of the 10/40 Window, where religion is suppressed, or worse, illegal.

But the forward progression of God’s life transforming movement can’t be bottled.

Brother Fu, who got saved after being set free from writhing on his dusty village floor in demon possession, agrees.

And Brother Li, who drunk punched our Within Reach Global local missionary after he shared the gospel in his village. He got saved 10 months later, attended Bible school and literacy training, and is now a missionary to his own people group.

  • All missionaries in the world (Catholic, Protestant, etc.)    419,500 foreign missionaries
  • All missionaries in the reached world    316,500 foreign missionaries (75.4%)
  • All missionaries in the unevangelized world    103,000 foreign missionaries (24.6%)
  • All missionaries in the unreached world    10,200 foreign missionaries (2.4%)
  • Full time Christian workers in the world    5.5 million workers
  • All Christian workers in the reached world    4.19 million local workers (75.9%)
  • All Christian workers in the unevangelized world    1.3 million local workers (23.7%)
  • All Christian workers in the unreached world    20,500 local workers (0.37%)
  • The ratio of unreached people group workers to total unreached world is: 1 missionary for every 278,431 people
  • There are 95,000 Evangelical Christians for every one unreached people group. (The Traveling Team, Missionaries and Workers)

in yao village
Photo by Jacob Smith

I have circuited most of Southwest China. I have eaten dog and cat and other, shall we say, “unique” delicacies. Not necessarily because I love the pungent taste of puppy and kitten so much. Not because a bowlfull of live grub worms is particularly delectable either. It’s because when you spend the night in the poorest of the poor tribal village, and they serve you the best they’ve got, it’s hard to turn down a meal and make your impoverished host lose face.

“Eat whatever is set before you.” I remember Jesus’s command, pull up my sleeves, and dig in.

They have never heard the name of Jesus. I know because when I ask, they question if “Jesus” is a brand of soap, or a medicine they’ve never heard of.

The reality of their status as an unreached people group gets under my skin. Or should I say, it really pisses me off. It makes me jealous.

“Why should anyone hear the gospel twice, before everyone has heard it once?”
~C.T. studd

I have traveled to too many unreached people groups to number. And after all these experiences, it is clear to me that God is still jealous for them to have a witness of the gospel.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world, as a testimony to every nation, and then the end will come.”
~Matthew 24:14

Hasn’t God put a stipulation upon himself, that until every tribe, people, and linguistic ethnic group has had the opportunity to hear the message of salvation, he cannot return?

I think yes.

And so, I pray that the things that break the heart of God would in the very least, prick mine as well.

I am a statistic just like you. But I pray that the things revolving around our personal experience will not distract us from God’s overall plan of redemption, namely, that every people group on earth has the chance to hear about him.

I mean, seriously, in the 21st century, and 2 billion people have never heard of Jesus? That’s just not fair.

In 1976, there were an estimated 17,000 unreached people groups. As of 2012, there were only estimated 6,921 unreached peoples. The statistics are changing because Christians are beginning to see the bigger picture. (Joshua Project)

I know of only one way of changing the mathematical chance that I don’t care: it’s simply to care.

Care with commitment. For some that means with your wallet. For others it means with your hands and feet.

“In the vast plain to the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been––villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.”
~Robert Moffat, 1795-1883, missionary to Africa, father in law of David Livingstone

Put wheels on your empathy.
Be a voice for the voiceless.

The 10/40 Window will not be home to unreached people groups forever, because we’re going to get up and do something about it.

Get involved with reaching unreached people groups at 1040 Hub.

bong and shoed