Being in outdoor, or adventure ministry, we run into a lot of skeptics about what we do. They want to know whether our trips “work” or are “effective” and we believe yes, they are. Sometimes it’s a little hard to us to prove that, but through prayer and obedience, we feel that we’re doing what God has called us, and therefore, we’re making a difference.
A quick example of the long-term effects of outdoor experiences may shed a little light on what we do.
A lot of the students we deal with come from bad family situations. For this reason, they misbehave. The more they misbehave, the harder it is for people (outsiders) to love them, so they misbehave more. It’s a truly vicious cycle.
One particular group we are working with, which is not a ministry, has a leader that has taken a particular interest in our program. From what we’ve seen, he isn’t a Christian, but has been very positively effected by outdoor experiences in his past. (Also, on a side note, this leader is another opportunity for us to show love and grace and minister to the unreached)
This particular leader comes from the same neighborhood, and circumstances as the youth in his group, but he acts different. He’s well spoken, and upon further discussion, we learn that he has a college degree and has come back to his neighborhood to make a difference.
This is where it gets interesting; you’d never know it from how he dresses or acts, but this dude loves hiking and being outdoors. I mean, seriously loves it. He was taken hiking at a young age and has enjoyed it since.
So, maybe we’re putting a lot of weight on it, but the only immediately obvious difference is that this guy had some experiences growing up where someone loved him, and invested time in him to take him outdoors and it’s stuck with him for all these years, and possibly shaped him to become the man that he is now.
All this said – we’re going to continue to take our chances, and follow the Lord’s will for us, with the hopes that taking these students out of their chaotic lives, even for just for a few hours at a time, will make a long-term difference in their lives. Join us?