I’m sitting in the Atlanta airport with eight other men waiting for our flight to Lima, Peru, where we’ll spend a week leading medical clinics, conducting VBS, and ministering at nightly crusades. I’ll also be teaching at the Peruvian Baptist Seminary. It’s going to be a packed week.
We’re not traveling for any of the things you sometimes hear about when men get together for international trips–we’re not going to hunt, surf, hike or ski. We aren’t attending some cool kind of men’s retreat that promises to help us bond together as brothers. Goodness knows we won’t be partying or gambling, either. We’re going instead to reach out in the name of Jesus to help an area of the world that can use all the help it can get.
Evangelical churches call these kinds of expeditions “Mission trips” and more people are involved in them than you realize. The congregation is rare that doesn’t send at least a couple of teams out each year.
I think there are a number of reasons. The most obvious one is that Jesus told his church to have a worldwide vision of the gospel. But there are other reasons to go, too. For some people and even churches that means a romantic attachment to a country that tugs on their heart. For others it’s a kind of spiritual wanderlust, an inner restlessness that drives them away from the familiar toward new people and places who need Jesus. Then there are those motivated by boredom. For them, staring at the same people in the same pews for too long makes the gospel seem so narrow and confined that they gladly put up with the indignities and discomforts of international travel in order to connect with folks who look and sound different. They yearn to glimpse a wider spiritual vista.
But for men, I think, there may be another dynamic at work, one that may not sound so spiritual but actually is. Men go on mission trips because they offer a level of adventure we’ve lost in our safe, comfortable and predictable churches. Call it red meat for the soul.
I’m just saying that for a man who works 50-70 hours a week, somehow manages to squeeze in some time for exercise, helps with the kids and housework, looks after his house, and carries all the additional burdens of modern family life all the while keeping up his involvement in church, well, a week spent in a rural area of the world without any of the modern conveniences really isn’t a hardship. The opposite is true. It becomes instead such a refreshing change of pace and environment that it amounts to a spiritual renewal.
So nine of us are in Atlanta right now, about to load up and head out. Here’s our team (from left to right):
–Evan is a college soccer player who will instantly be a rock star with the Peruvian kids.
–Daniel is a young husband and dad and one of the three doctors on our team. He’s been on these kinds of trips before and liked them well enough to come back.
–Todd is a young husband and dad. This is his first trip.
–James is a young husband and dad and has travelled with me before on trips.
–Tim is my age, with grown children and grandchildren. Also a doctor, he’s been on several trips.
–John is a young husband and dad. He’s the team leader and our second doctor. This is his first trip.
–Monty is a husband and father to two teen age boys. He’s been on trips before.
–Jose is an old friend, a husband and father to two adult children and one grandchild, a retired Marine, and fluent in Spanish. He’s been on many trips.
–I’ve been on more mission trips than I can remember and have been blessed every time (even the time I came back from Turkey in a wheel chair).
I’ll be posting every day, so I hope you’ll be able to keep up with what promises to be a great week.