I grew up in a small town in Texas and did not travel more than a hundred miles from home before high school. My first trip to a “foreign country” was across the Red River into Oklahoma. But, when I was eighteen, God called me into the ministry and that changed everything. I knew when I accepted that call that Christians were to bear witness of Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. I had no idea that God meant for me to go there.
He first took me to regions of the United States that I had only read about: to the boundless beauty of the Northwest, the plains of Indiana, the urban centers and rocky coasts of the Northeast. I even lived in Minnesota for eight years where I learned how to survive brutal winters and celebrate summers. I discovered the immense pleasure of sweet corn, though I never learned to eat lutefisk.
I was introduced to poverty in Matamoras, Mexico that seemed to pale beside the favelas of Brazil. I visited orphanages in Guatemala and saw volcanoes with lush forests. While conducting church planting conferences in Australia, I toured Sydney’s Botanay Bay, woke to the sound of a laughing kookaburra outside Melbourne and napped on the grass at King’s Park in Perth, then witnessed the crashing surf at Auckland, New Zealand. In Moscow, I stood outside the Kremlin and toured Lenin’s tomb after working on a partnership with Siberian Christians. We met with Christians from around the world in Prague and visited Bethlehem Chapel where John Hus preached in 1402. In Egypt, I stood in awe at the foot of the same pyramids that were once seen by Abraham and explored the catacombs of Alexandria where Christians took refuge in the first centuries. I met with NGOs in Aceh, Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami and woke each morning to the Islamic call to prayer. This summer I am in Nuremberg, Germany serving as pastor of a new English speaking church with more than a dozen nationalities represented.
Along the way I learned that God loves different cultures and different people. He loves the red, brown, yellow, black and white. He loves long hair and short. He loves the sound of different music and different languages. Like His creation with all of its multifaceted mysteries, he loves the diversity within the human race.
I learned that when I am in a different culture I see myself differently, and I see God in ways I would have never seen Him. I learned that there is no greater adventure than to follow Him to the ends of the earth to share the message that He has revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus who takes away the sin of the world. I am filled with awe, wonder and amazement at the journey that started, for me, with a very small step in a small town in Texas.