Extreme Testimony

by - June 24, 2011

Mike is back in Guatemala for the third time this year. Medical missions in two locations this time. In the spirit of that ministry trip, I invited a friend to share an article he wrote for a local magazine (Living Real) shortly after he returned from Guatemala Extreme back in March.  Thank you, Will, for sharing your story here.

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Will Bryan, art director,
 daddy, washed-up athlete

I recently returned from a week-long trip to the mountains of Guatemala.  Twelve of us from three different churches hiked into several mountain village communities to bring food, share the Gospel, and pray for the people living there.  I have to say it was one of the best weeks of my life.

I should not be surprised.  Some of the best times of my life have been in the inner city slums of Haiti, and in the orphanages of Romania.  When I go to another country to share my faith and try to be a blessing to those in need, it has always ended up being some of the most meaningful and personally satisfying times of my life.

Does it make sense that I can be most satisfied when I am in some of the poorest and most dangerous environments in the world?

David Platt discusses this in his book Radical:  Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream. Platt makes a strong case that we Christians in America are not living authentic Biblical lives, but instead we are living out a
Christian spin on the American Dream.... We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are more comfortable with.  ~David Platt, Radical 
Platt shows how the life of Jesus teaches us to live a life of radical abandonment to purposes very different from the American Dream — more specifically, taking the good news of the Gospel to those who have never heard it and caring for the needs of the poor and the oppressed.

From our typical American perspectives, what Platt challenges us with, which in essence is Biblical obedience, seems absurd in practice. That is until you experience some of the things Platt prescribes.

In Guatemala, our team was one of the first groups of outsiders to enter an isolated village settled in an old guerrilla training camp. Most of the villagers had never even heard the Gospel. Nor had their parents, grandparents, or their great grandparents. We were telling the first generation of this community for the first time that God truly loves them.

As men and women and children came forward with tears in their eyes to pray and surrender their lives to God's love, I thought  to myself, "There is absolutely no amount of money that could replace this." We celebrated with the community by cooking and serving food to the hungry women and children. I know I will never forget this experience.

In our group were Cubans, African-Americans, Mexicans, Caucasians, and Guatemalans — teenagers to senior citizens. W prayed together, ate together, and worshipped together. We had deep meaningful conversations about life, our experiences, and our interpretations of the Bible. We shared our personal struggles and past pains with each other. When we left, I had twelve new very close friends with whom I shared a life-defining week.

How long would it take you to make twelve close friends? How many of us even have twelve very close friends?

This sense of intimate community is something that the American Dream cannot deliver, but the way of Jesus cannot  truly be experienced without it. Is participating in intimate community on your list of life goals?

Here in America, there is this unspoken assumption that faith in God equates to prosperity, but no teacher of the New Testament, including Jesus, ever promised wealth as a reward for being obedient. Instead what Platt correctly points out is that obedience leads to a life of meaning, a life of purpose, and a life of satisfaction. How much would you pay to be completely satisfied with your life?

When I came home from Guatemala, I loved my wife more, I loved my daughter more, and I loved God more.  Every aspect of my life was better, and nothing had changed but me.  How much is that worth? Improve every aspect of your life in a week! What would be monthly installments on that?

The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live.  Meaning is found in community, not individualism; joy is found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not Universalism.  Ultimately, Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience, and enjoy.

I have found that in my life taking risk doesn't seem to be all that radical anymore.

Extreme Team Radical Evidence

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  1. Thanks for this encouragement to go beyond what I think "Christianity" looks like and find out what it really is in shoe leather.


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