I remember pulling into the Avery’s driveway the summer of 2009. Soon after completing my senior year in high school, Shae Robison, now working with Choose to Invest, and I left our small town in northern Indiana and headed to Georgia to help the Avery’s prepare for the 14 other interns that would be arriving within the week. In 2010 I remember sitting at a square table, looking both Nathanael and Kristin in the eye, and telling them, “I get it. I’m onboard.” And in 2011 I remember sitting at their dining room table with the rest of the Invest staff planning what the summer would look like.
Something the likes of Journey does not come around very often. In fact, it is a rare kind of experience. Many college students will apply for the adventure of being in Africa for 2 months, to return and see friends from other trips they’ve taken, or simply to get away and do something new and exciting with their lives. While these all may be good reasons to get you onto the airplane, they hardly last the entirety of the flight, and as the African air fills your nostrils you realize this is something much bigger than you had bargained for. You aren’t just in East Africa anymore; you are on the front lines of what God is doing in a country. You are the love of Jesus to that orphaned child, the encouragement the single mother of two needed to awaken her to God’s love, or the help a rural village needed in making life go just a little smoother. Journey may have began in a house in Cumming, Georgia around dinner table, but today it is reaching across the world and campuses here in the US.
I wrote a small bit over the summer, and I’d like to share a portion of it with you. I think it describes the reason I have been with Journey for so many years:
“Today I am reminded that nothing compares to the love God has given me. To be near him and experience all the fullness of God is everything. It sustains my life, my being. The sufficiency of God has given me all I desire in life. Today I know I could leave this life well. I’ve found all I was looking for in Christ, because he has found me.”
I want to share this message with my own generation and with as many other people as I can, because they too are found and are wrapped in the embrace of Jesus. No longer will we remain distant to him, because he has drawn us near. For me it’s not about how many college students we can recruit to join us for the summer or the amount of work we can do in Africa. It’s simply about Christ.
Even though Journey may be much larger today, I can tell you that the core of it all has not changed since I pulled into that driveway in 2009. We are passionate about Jesus, we are passionate about discipleship, we are passionate about the next generation. And that will remain the same.