It’s crunch time. Nine days remain until take-off for Romania and I can’t wait. When I tell new friends about my trip, I realize that it doesn’t fit into a typical category and it’s hard to get a handle on it. How will I answer the question at customs about the purpose of my travel: Business or Pleasure?
It’s not exactly a reunion, although I will be catching up with many old friends and it does have the element of celebration in it. It’s not even a mission trip, at least not in terms of going to a foreign country (or a different culture in your own country) for one specific and much-needed purpose (handing out Bibles, building houses, babysitting missionary kids). People often return from these trips without ever having entered in to the culture – how can you in such a short time? – or even having had conversations with the people – don’t you need to speak their language?
One new friend summed it up by saying my trip will be like the apostle Paul going back to encourage the churches he helped plant. That’s it exactly. I will spend time with spiritual children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on for generations – many of whom I’ve never met because they were born spiritually after I left. Some are cousins and nieces, spiritual children of my teammates – the extended family helping the young ones thrive. My heart’s desire is that I won’t stay on the surface or in shallow water, but instead dive down deep and stay down deep the entire week. I hope to talk about heart issues, the real stuff of life, with these dear friends. (And because of that, a big prayer request is that God will bring back my language ability, which has been hibernating for a decade now.) I expect to be exhausted and exhilarated at the end of the week.
Together, the current Campus Crusade staff and those of us returning will rejoice in what God did 20 years ago. He broke through the bars of iron holding the people of the Eastern Bloc captive, opening the floodgates for His gospel to come in and pierce hearts and change lives. We’ll praise Him for what He is doing now and look forward expectantly to even greater things in the future.
So what’s the purpose: Business or Pleasure? It’s encouragement.