This past week I had the honor of going to Zimbabwe. I have only been out of the country a few times. I remember the first time. I was playing with the band Crossties. We went to Germany to minister through the gift of music. I remember having culture shock! After living in Tallapoosa my entire life, and never having been exposed to a different culture, I was shocked as to the differences. The country was beautiful, the people looked and spoke differently, and the food was…..well lets just say it was different! I can remember asking Johnny, the leader of the band, what did they say? Where are we going? What’s next? Needless to say, the trip was amazing. I will never forget it! We went to bless them with our music, but I was the one who received the blessing.
My next experience was with my wife. We were blessed to go on a Mediterranean cruise. We flew to Spain then set sail. We visited many places. I will never forget seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope, the Coliseum in Rome, and especially the wonderful memorabilia of the Apostle Paul. This was a trip of a lifetime! Things were definitely different in these places. But they were wonderful. I can remember being concerned, worried, anxious and extremely excited. All these emotions were happening because of the uncertainty of what would happen next. You have heard this statement I’m certain, “ You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy”! Yep, that’s me! Just an ole country boy who has grown up in the greatest place ever! I never dreamed as a boy,growing up in Buncombe, I would see the things I have been blessed to see. God is awesome!
In 2014 I traveled to Johannesburg Africa. I was introduced to an entirely different culture. If you have ever wondered if the scenes you see on tv about Africa are real, I can say to you “yes they are real” . People are living in conditions our minds cannot conceive. If you ever experience this in person you will be CHANGED! During this trip I was blessed to teach and to be taught the 8 Core Values of Christianity. Written and produced by the International Leadership Institute. ILI has written and incredible leadership curriculum that consist of 8 core values. Intimacy with God, Passion for the Harvest, Visionary Leadership, Culturally Relevant Evangelism, Multiplication of Leaders, Family Priority, Faithful Stewardship,and Integrity. ILI teaches leaders how to accelerate the spreading of the Gospel through these core values. I do not have the words to describe the transformation that took place in me during this trip! My heart was breaking for what my eyes were seeing! My soul was longing to become the man God has called me to be! The men and women who were in the room with me were experiencing the same emotions and it was so powerful! We all wanted to be better for God and His Kingdom! We were unified, and we were powerful! The presence of God was overwhelming! I will never forget this trip, these people, and especially the transforming power of God!
On March 24, 2016 I boarded a plane, headed for yet another country, to which I have never been. Todd Wright and I were headed for the country of Zimbabwe. This trip was much different than any other I have been on. First of all it took 31 hours of continuous travel to get there. Now it’s hard for a boy from Buncombe to sit still 30 minutes! These 31 hours of sitting on planes and buses was very difficult! While on the way, I guess I must of asked Todd a million questions about where we were going. What would it be like? What can I expect? What all will I see? Needless to say, this trip was even better than the last! The culture was extremely different, more so than any other I have ever seen. The poverty level was worse. There was extreme drought. We were there to train 42 pastors from all over the country. Most of the pastors there said they were only getting to eat 1 meal every 3 days. Can you imagine this? They never once complained about it! They have such amazing faith! They were there to learn how to become a better leader for the cause of Christ! So what if we don’t eat! God grace is sufficient! These were amazing men of God! We pastors in this United States of America are blessed beyond! If you are wondering how this trip effected me, let’s just say, I have never been where I am now! I will never be the same again! CHANGED!
I chose to share these experiences with you in order to prove a point. I have become who I am today because I was willing to “go places”. Did I have questions about where I was going? Yes! Was I concerned, worried, and anxious? Yes! Were there times I questioned the circumstances? Yes! I had to choose to go or stay. I chose to go and because I was willing to go, God showed me what I would have never learned by staying. Now let’s put ourselves in the same place where Abraham was one day when God said GO!
By faith Abraham … went out, not knowing where he was going.
(Hebrews 11:8, NASB)
When you make a radical commitment to follow God, you’ll go where you’ve never been before! If you’re still looking at the same ground ten years later, you’re going in circles. God said to the Israelites, “You have compassed this mountain long enough; turn you northward” (Deuteronomy 2:3). Today, God’s saying to you, “Take the car out of park, put it in gear, and let’s go!” Learn from your crisis, glean from the experience—but let’s get going! Abraham didn’t have to know where he was going—God did. All Abraham had to do was focus on his relationship with God, and everything else fell into place.
Helen Keller was asked, “Is anything worse than being blind?” She replied, “Yes, to have sight but no vision.” Steven Covey, author of The Seven Secrets of Highly Successful People, said, “The risk of riskless living is the greatest risk of all.” Don’t end your life wishing you’d stepped out and followed God—go ahead and do it! You won’t be rewarded for “well said”—you’ll be rewarded for “well done” (see Matthew 25:21). Your dream will always be tested; its value is in how much you’re willing to pay for it. Abraham was willing to give up everything and go where he’d never been.
Where would we be if we were willing to “Go Places” for God? Where would our community be if we followed the great commission? Jesus words were“ Go and make disciples”. In the greek, it means “ as you are going”! As you are going to work make disciples! As you are going to Wal-mart, make disciples! As you are going to church, make disciples! No matter where you are going make disciples! Would you be willing to GO for the cause of Christ? Go beyond a Sunday morning only encounter with the Holy Spirit! GO beyond your comfort zone! GO beyond your personal taste in music, style, or traditions! Would you GO PLACES for Christ?! God’s desire is to take you deeper! Make you stronger! God is looking for men and women to become fully devoted followers of Christ! Abraham had to choose! He chose to GO! I had to choose! I chose to GO! What will you choose?