“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
“It’s not where you go. It’s who you meet along the way.” This quote is on a piece of Wizard of Oz-inspired art I acquired (we teachers have ways of acquiring such random things), and as far as I can tell from the internet, it seems to have been said by the Tin Woodman. For a character whose goal is to acquire a heart, this shows how much of a heart he already has...and wisdom, too.
My whole life has been about adventuring with God. From my childhood, I wanted to travel the world, doing His work wherever He took me. I hoped my life would be an epic journey, like the stories featuring heroes of the faith and other literature I grew up on. On this journey, I would have adventures near and far, see amazing sights, and soak up cultures around me.
I have been incredibly blessed in this way, it’s true. But I’ve learned something: it’s the people I meet along the way, or who journey with me, who make the difference. They not only give me a piece of themselves, they help me know myself better. And best yet; they help me know God more.
Just as Frodo had Sam in the Lord of the Rings books, and Paul had Barnabas (and others) in the Book of Acts, we need each other in this great adventure of life. Barnabas’ name literally means “encourager.” He certainly did this, walking alongside Paul as they traveled to share the Good News. I’ve been blessed with close friends in this way, from peers to coworkers overseas and others who have walked with me during difficult times and adventures. Other times, God has been my only companion. Those have been precious times, too, as I’ve gotten to know Him (and myself) better. And there have been the people I’ve met in this adventure of life, who have encouraged me and made me a better person. There are too many to recount them, but I’ll share one with you that is on my heart right now.
I was home in the States for the summer between my two school years teaching in a country in South/Central Asia. I had sent a message to the director of the summer camp I had worked at as a young adult. There, my camp nickname was Jungle, because I wanted to serve God in Latin America (much of which has tropical rainforest). In my message, I said I had time to help out at camp in any way I could. The director wrote me back, inviting me to join them on Lake Day during high school camp, where the staff and kids would hang out at a lake and he could spend some time catching up with me. But he didn’t stop there. He invited a young camp staff member to join us. Her camp name was Adventure. It fit her well! The silly fun camp person in him was excited— “Let me take a photo of this moment in history when Jungle meets Adventure!” But that wasn’t the main reason he introduced us.
Adventure (I won’t use her real name here for reasons that will become clear) had it on her heart to go someday to Central Asia and help people there. The director brought us together so I could share with her my experiences there and encourage her. I greatly enjoyed this. We became Facebook friends, and I kept up with her a little here and there. A few years later, tragedy hit. Her brother was in a car accident, and eventually died. It was heartbreaking. But Adventure didn’t let her heart grow cold because of it. She kept herself open, sharing her heartbreak with others so they could support her, and sharing it with God so he could heal her and keep her heart tender toward others. I learned a lot from watching her go through this tragedy. I’d like to say as an older person that I mentored her or encouraged her somehow, but really it was me who was blessed by this. Since then, I’ve gotten to meet up with her for coffee, and hear her heart to encourage others and share hope with them.
As I write this, she is on her way to the country that has been on her heart in Central Asia. She is taking with her a small team of a couple close friends, and they have plans to share hope and encouragement with people there. They may have landed by now, after a layover in Europe. I am on her prayer team. By the time you read this, she will probably be back in the States. But I hope you will join me in praying for her presence to impact the people there long after she is gone. It certainly has impacted mine.
Ephesians 1:15-16 “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
May we remember to thank God for all the people He’s put in our path, and pray for them, wherever they are at in their faith journey. Many thanks to the faithful friends and relatives who have been praying for me and my journey, and to God, who has led me on an amazing adventure.
About the Author
Jessie is an educator, currently in the role of academic advisor at a charter school after teaching there and overseas. She is also a novice writer, with several books in various stages and a (long-neglected) blog about the journeys of women. She is very excited to join the CitySalt blog team. She has been blessed by a few communities of Christian writers that have encouraged her dream. She lives with her trusty sidekick cat, Arwen in the foothills of South Eugene, where she can go hiking within minutes of the sun coming out from behind the clouds.