A Group of People

Mission Trips Are Pilgrimages by @JeffGoins

In adventure, journey, mission trips, pilgrimages on April 22, 2011 at 5:55 pm

By Jeff Goins

My life was changed one Easter in 2007.

I was getting acclimated to my new job of training and deploying missionaries to go overseas. As a writer, my job was to help them tell their stories.

One Sunday, they all returned from visiting a nearby megachurch for the Easter Sunday service. They had disappointed looks on their faces.

It was a show. A great show, but a show, nonetheless.

So, we spent a few minutes praying and singing some songs. Those minutes turned into hours or weeping and worshiping. And our lives were never the same again.

Something happened in that half-remodeled attic that Sunday afternoon. We were changed. And it all had to do with a journey.

Regrettably, American culture has overlooked the importance of initiation in a young person’s life. This idea of having a rite of passage to signify the transition into adulthood is prevalent in most, if not all, preindustrial societies…

You even see it in Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in the form of a “Gap Year,” where a student takes the greater part of a year (often before college) to see the world and discover his identity.

There is something spiritual about going on a journey.

It’s no coincidence that many of the early and medieval Christians considered themselves “pilgrims” in a foreign land and actually embarked on pilgrimages of their own to better discover their faith.

And it shouldn’t be a surprise that so many cultures have initiation rites that include some sort of excursion.

This reason is why my organization has tirelessly pursued opportunities to immerse young people into foreign cultures during their most impressionable seasons of life. Not only that, but to send them out on a mission. They’re learning that pilgrimage isn’t about them, but rather about serving others.

And their lives are being changed in the process.

In fact, my life is being changed just by watching them. All because of a hunger to go — not to stand still or accumulate wealth and comfort for the sake of building personal empires, but to pour out their lives as an offering for the world.

This is what I saw in that attic on Easter Sunday several years ago. This is what I see in a generation of twenty-somethings right now — they are ready to make a difference. They are ready to go.

And we as a culture, as a church even, need to empower them.

How have you seen a journey change a person’s life?

Jeff Goins is a writer, idea guy, and innovator. He loves sushi, coffee, and making a difference. He works for Adventures in Missions blogs at goinswriter.com and tweets like a madman. You can follow him at twitter.com/jeffgoins.

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