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Travel: the world is your oyster!

Peter Grier, 02/07/19

CU’s out for summer! And if you tried to track the generation of students who eat, sleep and dream travel, you’d see an explosion of dots across the world map. It’s not just the international students who travel until September ends our time adventuring in the giant playground God has given us. But what does the Bible say about travel? What are we missing out on by being a generation sold on travelling? How could we make the most of our travels? We chat to author and CUI Team Leader, Peter.

Travel: the world is your oyster!

Peter, we’ve caught you just between travels – tell us where you’ve been.

I’ve just been hiking and camping for a week out in the Hebridees of Scotland, with my old housemate and fellow world–traveller Dan (The Rebel Cyclist, who cycled home from New Zealand to Drimoleague, Cork, over one year).  I love to get away to untouched gems like this, and both rest and challenge myself physically in stunning areas.

scotland

And you’re about to head off again?!

Yes!  Next stop, a friend’s wedding in Wicklow, and then a few days helping my parents move house, and a week trail running while visiting Christian missionaries in France.  I love taking a good chunk of my annual leave close together, so that I can mentally get a break from what can be a very relationally intense job.  I’m getting better at establishing rhythms of work and rest, but I still love a week or two in a row when I can!

You come from a privileged generation who can travel lots like this – what have been some of the things you’ve learnt?

Oh where to start?!  I love the diversity of the world God has made around us.  I could take an Instagram picture of exactly the same spot hundreds of others have done, and yet it will still be different – different light, different angles, different people.  Not to mention the millions of pictures that could be taken elsewhere.  I can’t wait to more fully know an infinite God who has freely given us a world like this to enjoy and care for!

I’ve also loved experiencing what it’s like to be a Christian elsewhere.  From worshiping with the underground church in North Africa, through to sharing Christ with the isolated Sami in the Arctic Circle.  That’s an incredible thing, to grow up with an increasing awareness of the tapestry that God is weaving throughout the world over time.

 

travel quote 3

There is an emphasis in mission these days that says God is going ahead of us and we can join in.  But much as God always takes the lead, this tapestry intimately involves us doesn’t it?  What about those who would say you’re forsaking the joy of our callings to the Church and mission to go travelling?

Yes, there’s been a lot of pushback and maybe even anger at the current travel trends in Christian circles.  Grandparents thinking students ought to be on mission teams.  Parents worried at the disconnect of international relationships.  Many who told me it was a waste of time writing a book about such trivial things as faith and travel.

 

And they have a point no, aren’t CEF, UBM and other summer mission teams struggling for young people this summer?  We used to spend all our summers doing evangelism!

As a Beach Mission team leader, I certainly see those trends.  How much of that is thanks to travel?  For sure it affects it.  Certainly the range of international options in mission teams, holidays and other options has impacted all of us deeply, for good and for bad, whether we think it or not.  On one hand we miss out on the joy of being used by God in the same place over many years – building up sustainable connections locally.  On the other hand ‘Unreached People Groups’ are becoming reached abroad, people are getting a big picture of God at work, and learning cross–cultural lessons which help every–day mission of the local church back home.  It’s not all bad.  And at the same time previous generations have already bought into “travel” as we drive our cars miles to go to church each week (past many others), and rarely see anyone inbetween Sundays – that consequence of individualism was arguably far more damaging than the next step of travel!

Travel Quote 8

So what makes the difference between someone who travels well, and someone who doesn’t?

That’s a hard one, isn’t it? They say that travel is a great educator, and it is for sure.  But it’s not always.  We can still travel in ways that won’t help us flourish or grow as individuals and church communities.  The danger is that we create a Jesus that fits in our pocket as we travel, occasionally involving him, but not enjoying letting him have any say over anything major.  We really think if we let Him have a say over life, that He’d be like that conservative family member back home, who just gives us a list of rules and social expectations to live by.  The Father Ted protest: “down with this sort of thing!” Awful!

Father Ted
 

But I’d encourage everyone to start by seeing God’s panorama of travel from the first page of Genesis through to the last page of Revelation – it’s packed with travel stories everywhere!  When we get to know Him and His heart for the world, together as His Church, we’ll grow increasingly able to wisely discern when that next trip will be the best thing ever, and when its not best for our relationships, our mental health or perhaps even our wallets!  Having His perspective removes us from the paralysis of options in life (too many of them!) and frees us to enjoy the Spirit’s leading into Christ–like–ness and maturity, even when that means dying to our own plans, in order to find life to the full.

Travel Quote 1

You might say it’s like we’re Travelling in tandem with God’s Heart?

I see what you did there!

How can we think through this topic more in the days ahead?

  1. Be intentional – don’t let your Instagram feed, the travel section of every paper or website, or social expectations take over your thinking on this and capture your heart.  Seek out resources, bring it up in conversation and have your youth group or church explore the topic pro–actively.  If my blog or my book’s discussion questions and content can help – brilliant – that’s why I wrote it, as a kickstarter to further discussion.  There are no answers in there!
  2. Don’t point fingers – we live in a world that has ostracised the “other”.  In this case, it tends to be generational, as older generations struggle to understand the Wanderlust millennial, or younger ones don’t see what the problem is.  But all things in life were created beautiful, but have been ruined (Gen. 1–3).  Travel is a beautiful ruin too – there’s plenty of good in it, but also some ruin.  Let’s turn to God’s lenses to see this and be willing to confess when we’ve got it wrong.
  3. Come expectant.  The travel industry is one of the largest industries in the world and God is doing great things from those who’ve grasped this opportunity.  From Thomas Cook (a Baptist pastor) who set up his famous travel company to keep people away from spending money on addictive substances, through to Ireland’s own Edengate Travel, who help plant churches in unreached parts of our own island, to a homeschooling Mum in Cork who uses travel resources she’s designed to teach her kids about God’s world, or a graduate in Cork who has never had a passport but still helps reach hundreds of International students from all nations, with the good news of Jesus.  Travel is everywhere.  What I dare you to do, is make the most of it!

 

Thanks for your time Peter – and enjoy your travels!

Travel flyer

You can find Peter’s blog here, and his book can be ordered in all good Christian bookshops or online through the major retailers.

Other faith and travel resources worth exploring can be found on his blog.