Since 2009 we have been helping church leaders experience for themselves what it means to be sent. We accomplish this through 7-10 day trips to major global cities.
These "traveling think tanks" are called Jet Set Trips.
Each trip is designed to expose participants to global missionary skills and a network of global missionaries, allowing church leaders to more effectively build a culture of local and global mission at their church. It's like a vision trip guided by Upstream leaders.
Whether as a response to the scenery or the people our team encountered, “Wow!” was the phrase that most consistently came from my lips. This took place during a recent adventure across southeastern Europe as part of Upstream’s Jet Set Trips.
Along with our two guides, our Jet-Set team (made up of five dynamic women from various parts of the U.S.) changed locations every day for seven days across two countries. At every stop, within every home, on every farm or city we found ourselves, we had the opportunity to put into practice the skills acquired through the Jet Set experience: contextualization, mapping, finding and engaging with people of peace, etc. Where words were not accessible with the language barrier, God used other means, such as our acts of service, kindness, energetic spirits, demonstrative love, and willingness to partake in local culture. This made a way for us to be the salt and light of the gospel within this foreign context.
A more personal takeaway from this trip took place while in transit. The areas we visited were almost perpetually beautiful. Chains of mountains, rugged river canyons, desert-like plains, and vibrant wildlife were part of each day’s drive. As the views through the front windshield came into focus, there again would be that phrase from every enamored passenger: “Wow!” On a few occasions, however, I turned around to the surprise of finding the view through the back window as being even more breathtaking than what I had experienced out the front. In looking back, somehow the landscape seemed even more broad, more stunning in its detailed display of creation.
God used this experience to demonstrate to me the importance of not only looking ahead in life with anticipation but also the necessity of looking back to see the beauty of my journey with him thus far. Probably much like your life in Christ, he and I have traveled through all manner of terrain, enjoying cloudless days and enduring stormy nights, sharing space at the top and the bottom of many mountains. Yet in looking back I can see such stunning beauty in our journey. It leads me to praise for what he has made from it all thus far. The Promise-Giver remains the Promise-Keeper, who fulfills the words of Romans 8:28, that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”
This lesson, and many more meaningful moments spent among our Jet Set team were by far the most valuable souvenirs I brought home from this incredible trip!