Stranded is what it is called, and stranded is what it is. Every year Caleb, founder of Unusual Solders and Stranded extraordinaire, collects a group of slightly crazy over 18’s, who have a love of Jesus and a heart for missions and plunges them into a unique missions training experience. Students are subjected to real world mission’s situations and are trained in the school of hard knocks on what to and not to do. Mistakes are made, lessens are learned, and you might even walk out of the training with a few scars in remembrance of your time.
I took part in Stranded four summers ago and it changed my life. Walking in at the beginning of that week I was looking forward to, what seemed then to be, the adventure of a lifetime. I never would have thought that at the end of the week I would be walking out with the unseen beginnings of a burden to reach the unreached in Jesus name. In fact when I found out that Caleb’s training program included three parts, one of which was overseas, I scoffed at the idea. But it happened. Somehow, a week in Nebraska, and most certainly the Spirit of God, had planted a seed in me that, when it sprouted, would forever change the way that I looked at the world.
Just to illustrate the magnitude of the shift that was about to occur: in high school my best friend, Charlie, went on a trip with his church to West Africa. During the months leading up to his trip I called the whole plan foolish. I would ask things like, “Why would you leave the United States-we have enough problems here that need to be fixed?” And I would say things like, “I am never going to leave the United States, really, I don’t even ever want to leave South West Metro Denver.” I was hard headed and paralyzed by fear of the unknown.
On the way home from stranded, I thought to myself, “I hope God never asks me to leave the United States.” Just the idea was wrought with anxiety and gave me a stomach ache. But a seed, I didn’t know about at the time, had been planted. A month later I participated in another ministry event, this one called Deep Camp. And I found myself once again toe to toe with Caleb, who was one of the keynote speakers at the weeklong event.
Caleb got up and gave a message about over-coming fear, and going wherever God leads you. In my guts I felt God nudging me to do part two of Caleb’s training—Submerge, a Stranded type training, but this time it would happen in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. When I came to this realization, it was all I could do to write it down. I had no desire to tell Caleb I was interested in part two. Honestly I didn’t want to say anything, because then no one could hold me accountable to what I knew God was asking me to do.
Then a few nights later while everyone was walking back to the hotel from the meeting building, Caleb came up behind me and said, “so you going to Africa with me?” I said, “uhhh yes?” At that point there was no turning back. One year later after hours of planning and months of fundraising I embarked on my first ever international mission’s trip.
All I can say is, “God did.” The trip was characterized by the simple reality that God is able, “Moongu, ana Weza” as they say in Swahili. He took unexpected detours and problems and used them to glorify himself! It was simply good.
A few months later God said, “you are going back.” And so a year after my first trip, Charlie and I embarked on “Hope for the Hadzabe.” It was an 11 week discipleship effort. And God did some amazing stuff-once again revealing himself to be the sovereign Lord of all!
A few months after returning from Africa, we once again embarked, but this time to a restricted nation in East Asia. And God once again showed himself to be the true and living God who is faithful and able to do impossible things.
I tell this story for a simple reason, to show that God can and will use anyone—even a fearful homebody who thought missions was foolish. See, he is not reliant on us to accomplish his will, but rather chooses us, and we have the honor of participating. He can use the most ordinary of people to do the most un-ordinary of things. Look at all of the people God uses in scripture. He uses the young, and the weak, and the un-educated—he uses the people who we would look at and say, that person could never do anything. But God can, and does.
Interested in taking part in Stranded 2016? Apply Here: Get Stranded