As long as I can remember, adventure called my name. Not in an extreme sports kind of way, but this intangible pull to try new things, to see new places, and to learn more about how God made me and who He has called me to be. While I couldn’t articulate this early on in my life, it was still present. It was consistently pushing and pulling me to this adventure I knew I was created for and yet didn’t fully understand.
I was 12-years-old and sitting on a couch reading a Christian magazine for teens (Breakaway magazine for any that might remember that classic). I honestly don’t remember much about the magazine except that every year, they would advertise these one- to three-month international mission trips for teens and young adults. At that moment as I was reading and learning about all these opportunities, there was this excitement that began to build in me. This wasn’t your average, run-of-the-mill emotional response. This was different. These trips and opportunities I was reading about sparked something within me and it all swept over me in this indescribable rush. I knew I wanted to go! I immediately ran and asked my mom, who I am sure thought I was crazy, and she quickly dashed my dreams by saying, “No, of course you can’t go.” This was very reasonable as I was only twelve years old, but she gave me hope with a few parting words when she said, “When you graduate high school we can talk about it.” I never forgot. During my final high school year, the trips were still offered and my discernment process was incredibly easy. I simply looked for a location that was the most remote I could find and filled with the most potential, from my limited experience, for adventure. I found it. That summer I left for Sao Tome, Africa. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was all in for, but I knew I was created for something just like this. I would describe that experience as extremely difficult, deep, adventure-filled, Jesus-focused, and completely life-transforming. That trip completely changed my life.
You have likely experienced something similar. Maybe not internationally, or maybe somewhere more remote, but there is a good chance you can recall a moment when God took you out of your comfort zone. When you felt Him kindly push you and gently bring conviction to your life to serve Him with greater devotion and passion. A change in our environment changes our comfort level. Or perhaps better said, it changes the false sense of control we feel we have in our lives and the world surrounding us. These new environments, especially when they include godly leaders who are providing direction and encouragement, often create moments of deep reflection and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that otherwise aren’t as easily accessible to us. It is in these very moments when we often respond to Him. Not only does He bring renewal to our lives, but He births a deep passion within us to tell everyone that Jesus saves, that Jesus is alive, and that Jesus changes absolutely everything. And we as a church family in Canada need to empower and release as many young leaders as we can to bring this good news to the world. Nevertheless, it always begins with a moment, a moment that provides an opportunity for decision, to adventure deeper with Jesus.
Church family, these moments are the very reason that Justice Semester has been birthed. Envision Canada helps to identify and develop future missional leaders who innovate, establish, and strengthen communities of faith in key urban environments. Justice semester is 12 intense weeks in Thailand. Young leaders, aged 18 to 22, will be living in community with 8 to 12 new friends all the while adventuring deeper with Jesus and discovering His heart, not only for the world but His deep passion for them and His call on them to serve the world. Simply, it is a deep dive into the Word of God, a time ruthlessly focused on Jesus, in the middle of a new environment that pushes people out of their comfort zone, and calls them to respond to Christ the King.
As a 12-year-old boy, I couldn’t articulate the call of Jesus in my life very well. I could, however, articulate this innate desire towards something more, something bigger, this call towards adventure. Little did I know the adventure that would await me on that trip, now so many years ago. Nothing compares to the thrill and joy of adventuring deeper with Jesus. We as an Envision team, including the many pastors that are helping to teach and lead this semester, are praying and asking young men and women to consider this as a next step in their adventure with Jesus Christ.
To learn more or to apply to attend the next semester of Justice Semester visit www.justicesemester.com for current information and dates.
This story is taken from the Fall 2018 Alliance Connection magazine. You can get a free copy of the Alliance Connection at Alliance churches across Canada or view the digital copy online. We hope you will be encouraged and inspired to go deeper in Jesus and as a result, further on mission.