Saturday, October 16, 2010

Life is Crazy God is Good

The focus of this week was an introduction to backpacker ministry. Every year millions of young people leave the comforts of home behind and go on a spiritual journey to "find themselves" through experiencing different people, places and cultures through worldwide travel. Every backpacker has their own story. Every backpacker has their own reasons for traveling. Every backpacker is searching for something. Unfortunately, few ever find it. This people group is almost entirely unreached. Less than 1% of all backpackers follow Jesus Christ. Our goal is to reverse that trend. We realize that backpacking is more than just a physical journey but also a spiritual one. We want to see that journey take people into knowing who God is and finding fulfillment in Him.
I've done my share of backpacking and I have found that no matter where I go the one thing that ties all backpackers together is longing. We all long for something... something more, something different, something real. It's the feeling you get when you see the sun rising over the Himalayas and you weep for an hour and you don't know why. Or when the moon casts such a bright reflection over a still lake that you feel sure you could walk across it and never break the surface. Or when you're driving along a bumpy desert road in the back of an open jeep and all you can see is sand and dust stretching out in every direction but you can't help but smile and whisper "it's beautiful". It is that feeling that defines the life of a backpacker.
These are my people. My heart breaks for them. They are so desperate. They are so hungry. They are so lost. My Father longs to bring them home and give them rest. O God, have mercy.

One of the things that we did this week was split into smaller groups and spread out into nearby hostels for one night to give the students a taste of what the backpacker lifestyle is like and practical experience on how we can reach out to them. I was with a group of eight that stayed in Akaroa, a beautiful little town on the coast. The high season hasn't really started in this area yet so we only met a few people but it was a great first experience for the students. (No one in my group had ever stayed in a hostel before.) Pray for Roman, a young German on a working holiday visa. He's running out of money and having trouble finding work. Pray that more Christians would come across his path and show him true generosity. Thank God for Fraser, the hostel owner, who gave us some really good discounts and even gave us directions to a secluded bay where we got to see a whole flock of rare little blue penguins!
This Friday afternoon was our first official day of evangelism in Christchurch. I am co-leading a team that hangs out in the cathedral square. It is the main hub of pedestrian activity in the city and hundreds of people come through every day. Several members of our team played guitar and sang worship songs, others used chalk or signs with questions like "do you believe in healing?" to start conversations, some hung around the life sized chess board. I was very encouraged to see each student cling to Jesus and step a little bit further out of their comfort zone. Personally, I just hunted down people who were sitting alone on park benches and awkwardly started conversation. Besides one elderly Asian man who didn't speak a word of English I had quite positive results. I was particularly excited to meet Hirosh, a Japanese man who left home seven years ago and has only been back for two weeks in that whole time. He spent two years working in Egypt, two in Australia, traveled India, Thailand... I lost track of all the rest. He just arrived in New Zealand two days ago and is looking for a sheep farm to work on. I'm trying to find some Christians near Oxford that might take him in.

Life is crazy. God is good. I need your prayers.

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