Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mission Destination: Our Own "Back Yard"- Part 1

In my original post I talked about the mission field being anywhere that we are at. In the last week I've had an opportunity to minister in my own little corner of the world. Pastor Eddie often says, "We are blessed to be a blessing!" I believe that that's true. And, I've also read Matthew 25:

35For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, 36 I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. 37Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? 38And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? 39And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? 40And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me. [AMP.]

Well, Praise God, there are food pantries, clothing rooms, hospital visitation ministries, and prison ministries in almost every larger town or city. But there's another part to what Jesus said. And that's the portion of that scripture that I've taken on over the years as a part of my own personal ministry. It's the part where Jesus said, "I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me."

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I love to hike and backpack. Completing the 2,170+ miles of the Appalachian Trail is STILL on my "TO DO" List (With almost 600 miles of it done, I have only about 1,600 miles left!). What many people don't know, though, is that I combine that love with an opportunity to minister the Gospel as well. No, I don't carry a pulpit out to the trail crossings, but I do impact nations. Every year over 2,000 people either go to Springer Mountain, GA and attempt to hike the AT to Mt. Katahdin, ME or start in Maine and work their way south. They come from all over the world and from every aspect of society. And they are a virtually untapped mission field.

If you live close to the AT you've probably seen them...scraggly, sweaty, smelly. And they have weird names, like Sundance, Frisco Kid, 10 Bulls, and so forth. [Or even weirder ones like my Trail Name, which is Mouse's Motor! Yeah, there's a story behind it!] Yep! Yep! Yep! That's a Thru-Hiker! What an opportunity! Since 1998 my kids and I have ministered to hikers as, what they call, "Trail Angels" doing "Trail Magic" [Don't let the name freak you out!]. What it actually is, is being a living example of the Love of God and the Hand of God in action.

Being a Trail Angel can mean anything from leaving some cold sodas in a cooler at a road crossing to...loading a smelly hiker in your car to give him or her a lift into town or back to the trail...or even to bringing one or two (or more) of them home with you for the night [Disclaimer: ONLY as you are led by the Holy Spirit!.] Offering a hot shower, a non-Ramen noodles meal, and a dry/safe place to stay. In the last week I've been blessed to host three such hikers in my home overnight, and I've given rides to several others. In the process, I just live out my life, and my walk with God, in front of them, like I always do.

This post is getting kind of long, so I'll make this "Part 1" of a two part post. In "Part 2" I'll introduce you to the hikers to whom I was able to minister. I know you'll be blessed by the way God ministered in each case.

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