This point of the summer always comes both too fast and not fast enough. Too fast because the experience is so rich, both in the relationships formed overseas and the relationships formed within our team family, we feel we just barely sink our feet into the life and culture here and then it is over. And also not fast enough because as a Trip Leader, this is my favorite vantage point and I am often overzealous to get to it. The view from debriefing is like standing at the top of a hill where you have a clear view of where you’ve been, but also the view ahead of where you are going is starting to come into focus. It can be a bit exhilarating.
Our Nehemiah and Timothy experiences this summer have led us through quite a lot! The past two days our students have spent luxurious time reflecting on all that this summer has held: rereading their journals, walking back through the various locations and ministry partners we’ve immersed ourselves in, and asking the Lord to reveal to them all the lessons He has so faithfully led them through. It has been a time of gratitude, praise, and celebration, both individually and collectively.
It is no coincidence however that we are in the port city of Joppa for this process of debriefing. It was in this city that Jonah left to head to Tarshish – only to be turned around in repentance to head where the Lord has asked him to go, Nineveh. It was also here that as Peter napped on the roof of Simon the Tanners house, that the Lord clearly called him out of his comfort zone to include the Gentiles in his scope of ministry. This city is in the direct path of the “Via Maris” (the ancient trade route meaning, “The Way of the Sea”). This trade route bridged the worlds of Egypt to Syria, from the Mediterranean world to the land locked Empires of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent. In short, it is what allowed travel between Africa and Europe and Asia to Africa. This crossroads was what made this part of the world so strategic.
Likewise, our students are at the point in the summer where they are beginning to recognize their own strategic crossroads in their lives back home; the places God has had them travel from, and the places He has laid out ahead for them to now travel to (school, work, sports field, home…). Just as God sent both Jonah and Peter from this tiny port town, to places they may or may not have wanted to go, so now our students are being sent. Sent back home to discover how God wants to continue to use them as voices of influence, ambassadors of His Kingdom, and Servants to the people in their paths. I can’t wait to see how the road unfolds!
For the Kingdom,
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