FROM HEAVEN’S VIEW
The first job I landed after grad school was at Northwest Airlines (later merged into Delta). I spent some months at Northwest’s headquarters in Minneapolis, learning the business, memorizing three-letter city codes, and exploring the dimensions of a global enterprise. Ultimately, I was sent back to my Seattle hometown and worked at its international airport. I loved it.
I loved the coming and going, the chance to interact with people from all over the country and all over the world, and the adventure of discovering so much beyond my front door. I loved helping people get from point A to point B, helping them navigate through the unexpected (weather delays, missed connections, etc.), and making family reunions, romantic engagements, and all kinds of other big moments possible. I learned much, in those days, about customer service, caring for those who came from different worlds than did I, and grace and patience when walking with them. I learned the power of a smile and listening ear; I learned the folly of venting judgment and criticism. Had I not been called into the ministry, there’s a very good chance I’d be somewhere in the world today employed by Delta. The airline liked me, too.
Of course, Delta still knows my name. I travel a lot. And, I like it still, for all the same reasons I loved working in the industry. I realize not everyone gets a buzz from living out of a suitcase, but I believe everyone can benefit from seeing the world away from home. Traveling with an open heart, with open ears and eyes and, insofar as possible, without prejudice, can transform the way you see yourself, the way you understand the gospel, and the way you understand your calling to serve Jesus at home. The familiar takes on new depth when you are immersed in the unfamiliar.
One of the most important and inescapable lessons of traveling (especially abroad) is one of the primary reasons many folks are reluctant to go: you become acutely aware that you are not in control and are forced to depend on God in ways otherwise unimagined. No matter how smooth the flight or easy the connections, you will find yourself in situations in which you can’t just dial “9-1-1” or run to the cash machine. You may find yourself stranded for a moment and not know where to turn, or in the middle of a crowd in which you stand out instead of blending in. Being “the other” is an excellent, if not always easy, lesson. You will also be forced to re-examine many ideas you have taken for granted and never questioned.
But, oh, the rewards of taking the dare! Your heart will stretch and grow. You will be humbled and exhilarated, both at once. You will learn what really matters and what does not, as you discover other places and cultures. You will comprehend the astounding necessity and power of the gospel with even deeper levels of understanding. You will know and experience God in ways that can change you forever. And, you’ll see with fresh eyes the Lord’s passion for your ministry at home when you return there.
As 2019 dawns, think and pray about traveling with us. By us, I mean with Church of God Ministries. Is there a place in the world you’ve always wondered about? Have you listened to or heard of a missionary in the field and dreamed of seeing that field for yourself? Do you secretly thirst for some adventure?
How about this: have you ever dreamed of walking where Jesus walked? Have you wondered what it would be like to sail the Sea of Galilee or explore the cobblestoned streets of Jerusalem’s Old City? Have you ever thought about the complex weave of cultures, history, the revealed Word, and current events that defines what we call the Holy Land? Have you ever considered being baptized in the Jordan?
Of all the world’s destinations, the Holy Land stands alone. It is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, even as many visitors return time and time again. Diving into the Holy Land in the company of others also seeking, not just a postcard, but Jesus, can be transformational.
Let us take you there in January 2020. That’s one year from now. ChoG Ministries and the ministry of Christians Broadcasting Hope (CBH) has been leading groups through the Holy Land for many years. I first made the trip in 1986, led by one of our brightest and best, Wilbur Skaggs, whose love for the region (as he served as a missionary in the Middle East) regaled me with not just the sights and sounds of the place, but also its stories. I’ve been leading groups myself for almost two decades, always believing that no experience there could top the last—and then discovering that the next trip is even better.
We limit our group size to one bus-load. We will take you to all the “must-sees” in Israel and Jordan. We always begin our visit in Bethlehem on January 6—that’s Christmas Eve on the Eastern (Orthodox) church calendar—so that you can experience the celebration of Jesus’ birth with the world converging on Manger Square that night (just as it does a few weeks earlier on December 24). Jerusalem. Nazareth. Capernaum. Galilee. Caesarea Philippi (where Peter declared that Jesus is the Christ, when asked by the Lord, “Who do you say that I am?”) and Caesarea-by-the-Sea (where the Apostle Paul stood before Festus and Agrippa in chains) are also on the docket, of course, as is the astonishing Petra (ancient Edom), Mt. Nebo (from which Moses looked over the Promised Land), and Jericho (on the West Bank of the Jordan). And so much more.
We partner with a guy named Mick—a licensed guide whose family has lived in Jerusalem’s walled city for over 600 years. Fluent in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, Mick is one of the best (and I’ve worked with several); unusually, for most guides in Israel, Mick is a believer, who knows Jesus is Lord. He and I will not just talk about the Bible, we’ll experience it. You will, too.
Intimidated by the headlines? Apprehensive about going so far away from home? Concerned about wandering through Palestinian villages, Jewish towns, and Arab communities in two countries much in the news? Most people are. But, don’t be. There are risks, of course, anytime you travel abroad. But, there are risks at home, too. And, not just in big cities. We live in an unpredictable world.
If you think our next CBH Holy Land adventure has your name written on it, check it out online: www.JesusIsTheSubject.org and navigate to the “Travel with Us” tab. Our incoming General Assembly chair, Tim Clarke, is all in; he’s signed up. And others have, too. Seats are limited. C’mon. Be a part. And watch your world change for the better.
Alternatively, this Holy Land trip may not be in the mix for you, but you may still need to explore somewhere else with us. The “Travel with Us” tab can open the door to other destinations, as well. And, if you don’t see something there that’s just right, feel free to reach out to our Global Strategy team. They are glad to talk with you about forming a group from your local church (or with friends from several churches) to get on the ground and see God at work.
At CBH, we say, “See the world from heaven’s view.” There are few ways better to do that than to take the chance and travel. For Jesus’ sake. He’s two steps ahead, for the good, always.
Yep, you’ll have to prepare. Pray. Save. Get that passport. Be bold. Find life. Give life. Travel with us. Grow with us.
From all of us at Church of God Ministries in the heartland, Happy New Year!
And, yes, I’m writing this column in the air, flying home to Indianapolis and A-town, after two weeks on the road. So glad to have the chance to go, so glad to be on my way home.