I made the following Facebook status early Monday morning (May 13, 2013): What do you get when 2 baptists, 1 hispanic, 1 missionary alliance, & 1 non-denominational pastor go backpacking? I’ll let you know Wednesday when I return. But one thing is for sure, Benchmark Adventure Ministries will never be the same (http://www.benchmark.org/).
Well, we have returned safe and sound. The “we” were…
- Chris Whitney, pastor and founder of Nashville Family Church and OneGenAway
- Luis Suza, founding pastor of La Ingesia de Las Americas (The Church of the Americas)
- David Yoder, pastor of Faith Community Church
- Jay Autstin, pastor of Ridgeview Community Church
- James Evans, found and president of Benchmark Adventure Ministries
We left Monday morning and headed toward Virgin Falls, near Sparta, TN. After a 4 mile hike, mostly downhill, we set up camp along the Caney Fork River. The next day we explored Virgin Falls and crossed the Caney Fork, looking for an old cemetery. Then, Wednesday morning we hiked out, but this time it was 4 miles, mainly up hill.
Through it all, however, we enjoyed time alone with God and incredible discussions with each other. Among other things, here are some of the topics we discussed around camp:
- Writing a children’s story about Luis and the Witty Racoon. (There was an overly friendly racoon that stayed near our camp. Luis spent one night bravely fighting him off. However, somehow the racoon was able to sneak into camp, get in Luis’ backpack and still our maps. We found the maps the next day, several yards away from camp.)
- The gift of tongues (or languages)
- Women as elders?
- Evangelism & Salvation.
- Particular needs of each of our churches
- The Kingdom of God
- Favorite and/or meaningful bible verses
- Poverty & social justice
- Collecting money to purchase a Sven Saw for David
- Surprisingly, not a whole lot was said about politics
Personally, among other things, here is what I learned:
- I am not as young as I used to be, but not as old as James, Chris, and Luis.
- I still enjoy being outside and doing things that challenge me and push me.
- Swimming does not prepare your body for hiking and backpacking.
- Creation truly does magnify the Lord.
- God still speaks.
- Life is meant to be lived in community and I am extremely thankful for fellow-brothers like Chris, David, Jay, Luis, and James.