It started as a faith journey for a getaway vacation to get some much needed rest and relaxation. It turned into a spiritual uplift to encourage us in our new season of service. It was simply amazing that evangelistic outreach, exhortations, counseling, witnessing opportunities, ministering and fellowship became a means to edify, encourage, and engage us deeper in the Lord’s work. Our vacation getaway became an evangelistic journey that continues to be invigorating and inspirational to our spirits. Here are the reasons why:
FULFILLMENT AND PURPOSE
We went to encourage and bless our son and daughter in ministry who really blessed us with fulfillment and purpose. As they demonstrated thanksgiving and acknowledgements for pouring into their lives, we wept at the thought of such gratitude for the hours of teaching, mentoring, correction and empowerment acknowledged by them while we were there in their presence. Their current pastor even acknowledged us in this regard. Sister Ware encouraged a young man’s interest in music years ago who has now blossomed as a master musician and leader in praise and worship in a fast growing congregation. All of these were blessings to observe with feelings of fulfillment and purpose.
It was profoundly rewarding to both of us seeing the children we’d ministered to now all grown up and having the desire to serve the Lord in this their age. They are coming into their callings to do greater works than we could ever have imagined. Even now aged former members still in a place of service and sacrifice for the kingdom was a blessing to behold. Seeing them all doing these things with such gladness was a delightful and fulfilling feeling.
- WITNESSING OPPORTUNITIES
The opportunity to witness to strangers with positive responses was amazing. We are convinced that while the world that is so focused on rejecting truth, there are those who are still seeking it. People are hungry for the word though they don’t know how to seek it. The need for God is strong among people and many of them are ready to receive a message of hope. And the reality of Christ is being welcomed by people that are burdened, lost, depressed, and searching for hope.
Our travels reminded us of Philip’s journey in the Book of Acts as He was led by the Spirit to engage a traveling Ethiopian to consider the Jesus of Isaiah 53. A man heard me talking while waiting for a table at a restaurant, got into my conversation and then followed me into the restaurant to ask me to pray for him. We prayed right in the door of a busy restaurant because he was broken and seeking the Lord. A Wendy’s pick-up window became an evangelistic venue when a young worker took too much time trying to hear more about God and sharing his life story. We had to insist he give us our food so that he wouldn’t get into trouble by creating a backup in the line. A houseman talked on and on about his life as he delivered a refrigerator to the hotel room and asked for prayer over his life. The lady that registered us at the front desk sought prayer in dealing with her grief and deep sorrow. The stories go on and on of people, total strangers, who sought out help with their journeys and we were able to minister to with a word and along the way God blessed.
The truly amazing element of all this is how these encounters generated an unspeakable joy for us that had us talking with each other in the same spirit of those two men on the road to Emmaus after their encounter with Jesus.
A JOURNEY OF FAITH
Leaving home, we knew that our resources for this “getaway” were limited. We were traveling for a ‘divine purpose’ and trusted God to provide. However, what we did not know was how these provisions would come nor did we realize that this faith journey was not only about finance, but things of the Spirit as well. We thought our purpose in the first stop would be achieved and then some “getaway” time. It didn’t work out that way as you’ve probably already come to understand.
With every step in the journey the Lord provided the needed finance or services that were needed. God opened doors giving us access to hotel services, cars, food, and yes, enough money for the journey. Of course, that has been the story of our married life and with our three children! God has always provided enough. And that is what He did for us on this trip. He was and is our Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides, and He provides enough. Don’t ever be disappointed with the enoughs that God provides . . . they really do add up to an abundant life.
This element of faith was profoundly observable as we met those witnessing opportunities also. People that were strangers to us would inquire with us about the Lord. Some were saved while others were not. It was as though there was some message written over our foreheads or someone like the girl that pursued the Apostle Paul and Silas for days asserting that they were men of God were pointing us out (Acts 16:16-18). However, we’re just in awe of how we entertained these ‘strangers’ into our space with responses of sensitivity, strength to speak truth to them, and appropriate words to communicate to them. And it was clear that God had given moral authority to have undivided attention during the small window in which we were together sharing with strangers. A couple of young men immediately hooked up with us on Facebook. And God faithfully built us up to meet the challenge of making known God’s word that could be applied to those strangers’ specific life situations. We literally traveled by faith on this evangelistic vacation getaway.
- SAFE TRAVELS AND SECURITY
In all of these travels from North Central Florida to Southwest Florida to West Florida and on to Central Florida, there were no incidents, accidents, encounters, tickets, drama, or mishaps. We were protected throughout this entire journey with traveling graces, security within the cities and hotels, and while in the air. Nobody attempted to assault or do us any harm. There were no road rage incidents. Nothing was taken from our belongings in our rooms. Common courtesies are still alive and there are people with sensitivity to others. There remain people that do want to be helpful by assisting in every manner possible. And now that we’re older, we need that kind of attention at times. This journey was filled with people smiling and asking how they may help us.
We felt good about doing what we do on this journey! Even having to deliver words of challenge or correction was met with positive reception. We were ‘safe in His arms’ throughout this journey and were made to feel secure in everything that we attempted to do “for the Lord,” and those things we did through the normal course of our daily travels.
What an amazing time of fellowship and interaction among believers, some of whom were total strangers to us. However, their need for personal time of sharing with believers of like faith and hope was the same as our own. People need to share their faith and have need to receive and offer hope. Exchanges, discussions, sharing thoughts and ideas, rejoicing together are all a part of the process of fellowship. Praying with others who just need to hear their concerns or needs mentioned before the Lord is a part of spending time in fellowship with others.
The times of fellowship, hearing and receiving, speaking and sharing, were our experience along the way. Some of these experiences were ours in only moments with strangers while others were with long-time friends, former members and acquaintances. Whatever the case, we were all made to feel better on the inside with the confirmations of faith, the affirmations of trust and beliefs, and the outpouring of love among saints. One can only imagine how blessed our lives were as we traveled along the way between cities and towns.
- DISCOVERING WHAT PEOPLE EVERYWHERE NEED
It is so plainly obvious that people need to hear about God through the witness and testimony of others. It doesn’t matter where you go or what the people look like, young or old, race doesn’t matter, and socio-economic background is of little consequence. People want to know about faith and hope and life. They need someone to share some ‘real’ sense of God and believing in Him. Clichés don’t work, fast talking quick-fix ideas is not what people are looking for these days. They don’t want church . . . they want Jesus and some real ideas and testimonies that He is real and relevant to where they are in life. They don’t need or desire condemnation . . . they’re already there. Rather, they seek hope, they desire change, they need relief, and they look for healing.
That is why a young man stayed with us after packing the car as we were departing the hotel to hear some thoughts about being a better husband and father. A fast-food worker in the late evening of his shift on the drive-thru window wanted more about how to find meaning in life after having his mother abandon him two times in life. A couple needed confirmation about whether being together was right for them. We could go on and on about people who are in search of deeper meaning to life and their experience.
Fast approaching middle-aged men want more for the new season in their lives. They want to know how to deal with the calling that is on their lives and how to proceed in it. The search for a closer walk with God and how to give back to the world and the kingdom of God is real for many. These and others are looking for ways to walk in what God has revealed to them thus far in their minds and hearts.
This vacation getaway was convincing proof that there is much work to do away from the building, the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting, Morning Worship, and general church activities. There is much to be done ‘in the wilderness’ away from the formal and ritualistic. The harvest is white with those who may never walk across the threshold of the edifice or share in the wonder of worship on Sunday morning. Yet, their desire for something meaningful, sacred, and life-changing is real.
The point of this article is to convey the idea that God has a purpose to use down time away from home and our usual vacation agendas. Allowing Him to make travels more than a mere getaway for fun and relaxation is a good idea for one’s own sense of purpose and fulfillment. There are total strangers out there who need what you have in your heart and experience with God. There are people just waiting for someone to give them a ray of hope. And they are people that we come in contact with and interact with every day.
There are old acquaintances with whom you may have moved away from who need a call or some kind of interaction that reminds them of the place wherein they should be. You may be able to help them get there. And what about your own sense that God has a plan for your life and a purpose bigger than what you can see? Fun and relaxation is many times inconsequential once we resume that same old regimen of work and busyness. Witnessing, counseling, praying, or edifying others with a word of encouragement while on your ‘getaway’ may bring more peace and joy to one’s mind than a whole day in fun activities.
We came home with many of the feelings the disciples returned with following their evangelical tour initiated by Jesus. They marveled at how God used them and were excited about the work of ministry. In many ways, they couldn’t believe it though it was their experience. But they were satisfied that God had touched everything that they had done. And what He did through them was a part of a transformation into Apostleship from discipleship! And so it was for us on our evangelistic journey!
Thank God for this ‘vacation getaway.’