A common misconception that people have about Christian Travel is that if we are going to travel for Christ we must go on a "mission trip." By mission trip they usually mean a one or two week trip to a nearby community or to those across the globe, so they come share the Gospel, do a service project or two, and build relationships. That may be an over generalization of what mission trips are, and they are certainly important and often very beneficial for both parties, but that is only one aspect of Christian Travel. Let's dive into the bigger picture:
First of all, what is a Christian Traveler?
As Christians we have been given a mission: to GO! But that mission also includes a purpose: to GO and share Christ. Wherever we travel on our daily lives, to the grocery store with our kids, to the business conference across the country, to our dream vacation across the globe our mission still applies. Scripture repeatedly reminds us of that mission and as travelers we keep it at the forefront of our minds.
We have come to define a christian traveler as: (noun) a person who travels through their community, across country, or around the Globe and shares Christ along the way.
How do Christians travel?
I want you to pause for a minute and think about your day. In fact, grab a piece of paper and write down every way in which you traveled today. Did you walk, drive, or take public transportation to work? Did you commute with a friend to lunch? Did you walk into your friend's office to grab a cup of coffee?
Expand your travel list to this past month. Did you jump on a plane to go see a relative? Did you take a train across the country?
Now think about the past six months. Did you take a cruise with your loved ones? Did you make a Skype with a friend you haven't seen in a while?
Notice, your travel wasn't limited to vacations or to work. It isn't just "mission trips" or Christian retreats. It's anytime, anyway, and anywhere that you GO! The dictionary defines travel as journey between two places or to move. As Christians we can look at the places that we have gone and the places we are going and recognize that God is with us the whole way. That is why our life journey holds purpose and that is what we get to share with others.
Examples of Christian Travel
The concept of Christian Travel can seem cool, but hard to grasp. That is why I wanted to share two short travel stories that may give you a better picture of what Christian Travel looks like.
Lost in Europe
Fear can become very consuming when traveling solo through a foreign country. I went to Europe in 2017 by myself and I came face to face with fear. I arrived without cell service, I was unfamiliar with public transportation, and I was using a screenshot of a map to get to my Airbnb in the middle of the night. I was nervous I would miss an exit on the tram and end up hopelessly lost. When I got off at the last stop my screenshot said "walk 10 minutes to your destination," but I had no idea how to get there. My picture didn't show me. I ended up showing my Airbnb address to a stranger who told me, "That's not an address, but that street is around the corner." When I got to that intersection I broke down in tears, lost, alone, and afraid. Praying that God would get me to safety. I walked through a dark park and turned around out of fear when I heard people laughing. I ended up in a hookah bar (so outside my comfort zone) where I got WiFi, messaged my Airbnb host, and she picked me up. At the end I could say that God got me through the start - He would get me safely through the rest of the trip. I shared that story countless times on that trip and continue to since I have returned home. While my fears made it hard to be aware of God in the midst of the struggle, looking back it is easy to see Him along the way.
Moving to Oregon
During college I did a semester exchange where I moved from the Midwest to Portland, Oregon. I didn't know anyone at the school, had never visited it, and wasn't really sure what to expect. That semester was incredibly unique. It was like comparing cats and dogs - both soft companions but totally different personalities. The college back home took faith classes and accepted teachers Lutheran lessons without question. Portland had a lot wider range of opinions and suddenly I was left questioning: Why do I really believe what I believe? I had to defend my beliefs to my classmates, but textbook answers weren't going to work. That year was filled with a lot of spiritual growth and Christian community. Tensions between church denominations melted away to "I love Jesus and so do you." We could worship together and hold slightly different understandings of Scripture, but yet be one. I explained to my friends how different these two communities were. I asked questions about their faith journeys. And when I returned home I shared what I learned. My Christian Travel experience was stepping outside my comfort zone and learning with God along the way.
No matter how or when you travel - it's important to be building relationships so that you can be sharing how God is journeying with you. That is what Christian Travel looks like at home and across the world.
Until next time, God bless and Safe Travels!