20110610-img_0730-mandyGeneric depersonalized labor is useful and at times necessary for service projects, but it’s not my favorite part of short-term missions work.  It is far more interesting to see each member discover and exercise something more of their unique identity – the particular passions that God gave them; the things that move them – and hopefully to see these passions find an outlet out on the field.These are the forces that draw us through life and into relationship with God and others, and that with far more pull than some dutiful notion of rote service.

God is a deeply, profoundly passionate person. Zeal consumes him. It is the secret of his life, the writer of Hebrews says. The “joy set before him” enabled Jesus to endure the agony of the Cross (Heb. 12:2). In other words, his profound desire for something greater sustained him at the moment of his deepest trial. We cannot hope to live like him without a similar depth of passion. Many people find that the dilemma of desire is too much to live with, and so they abandon, they disown their desire. This is certainly true of a majority of Christians at present. Somehow we believe that we can get on without it. We are mistaken. (John Eldredge, Desire, p.54-55)


Chiapas can be a good place to consider what moves you. The jungle deprives you of normal supports, and taxes your sense of order.  It’s generally busy with ministry work – water filters, construction, etc. – but can also allow escape to a place apart where you can pour out your heart before God. And the great natural beauty of Chiapas is a contemplative context perhaps closer to that ideal garden setting that our Creator thought so conducive to fellowship between God and man.

What moves the members of the Global Encounters 2011 Chiapas Jungle Team One? Collectively, one aspect was their aptitude to try new things.  We initially considered backpacking to a couple of remote villages – something most members hadn’t done before.  While we ultimately scrubbed that, I knew we had a good team when I heard from each member that they were not just willing but eager to overcome any trepidation and take on a new challenge.



As a matter of appreciation and not evaluation, here are just a few enjoyable individual aspects that strike me after some time with our team.This is nothing approaching the sum total of each person; just a highlight or two.

Abby’s calm exterior masks a delightfully wacky and warm personality. She has a soft heart for her amigos, and a kind heart for her teammates.She also has a committed willingness to let God send her wherever He may want – even if it means the beastly hot jungles of Ch’ol.


Brittany is an exceptionally gracious young woman.  She is eager, good-natured, serious, and at the same time a lot of fun. I was delighted at how she would throw herself into what’s at hand with 100%.


Katie is one of those fairly quiet people that doesn’t try to attract a lot of attention but just keeps on going.  It’s our second trip together and I still don’t know what it takes to push Katie over the edge and make her grumpy.  I know Katie as steady, reliable, helpful, and cheerful.


Laura has an engaging passion for life and was up for not just tolerating but embracing the physical intensity of a Chiapas jungle trip.  Laura has an appreciation for things being done “decently and in order” and on schedule; but in the jungle, where they are often not, she had an appreciation for relying upon the God who transcends time.


Mandy loves adventure and can adapt to it easily.  She loves the kids and sights of Chiapas and the Creator who made it all.  I appreciate her concise insight and thought-provoking questions.  She has a good balance between being easygoing in relating to people yet staying well-grounded.


Nicole is a sensible and well-oriented person.  I have a hunch I could drop Nicole nearly anywhere on earth and she would land on her two feet, intuitively know which way is north, and start going there if needed.  She has an admirable passion for God and repulsion for what is lukewarm.  I appreciate her ability to easily exist whether in the middle of a vigorous group discussion or completely alone.


Henry is a unique and gregarious character who leaves me with a smile on my face and a loss for words. Quick, smart, hard-working, and accompanied with an amusing stream of commentary. Henry seems to thrive on spontaneity, and adapts quickly when the ground changes under his feet. I especially appreciate his skill with the guitar, which was a great asset to making music out in the jungle.


Minters are steady people and hard workers. Stephen Minter and Seth Minter were constant assets. Stephen is a reliable guy who’s serious about work but always ready to enjoy a conversation on just about any topic.  He’s unafraid to appreciate beauty, and captured much of it with his camera in Chiapas.  “Why did God make [this flower] [that bird] [these mountains]? Because He can!” Seth is quiet, wry, ready to do his part, enlivening our day with piano and the occasional quotation, and on the lookout for ways to help out where needed. Whereas the oppressive jungle heat seems to melt some people, it seemed to bring out Seth’s personality. I think I found that out in Carranza when many of us were sort of staggering around in a dull haze, and I found Seth down at the river climbing trees over the water with some village kids.



Our host Nathan is a legend. It’s no accident that he’s in Chiapas. He’s who you want to go into the jungle with. Nathan has a remarkable aptitude for making it up as you go and dealing with the fact that the nearby civilization that may not offer much help. He’s got a keen insight about people, a wonderful spontaneity and ability to grapple with the unexpected, and a deep appreciation for beauty. His gracious wife Julie is quite longsuffering about the chaos a team brings to their dwelling, the provider of many a fine meal amidst the responsibility of caring for three darling girls, and a most enjoyable person for thoughtful conversation.



We owe a big thanks to Stephen Curry, his wife Grace, and Grace’s sister Gabby Ozuna – our translators, local guides, and friends. To be lost amidst a stream of foreign language is to feel helpless; to have a focused translator like one of these friends is to feel rescued.



My co-leader Amy is, to sum it up, who you want to be your co-leader. Sensible, level, straight-shooting, covering so many details, and an appreciation for the occasional retreat to that rare but oh-so-needed silence or thoughtful conversation to balance out the flurry of team activity and energy.


This is, of course, only a sampling of the diverse glory God has added to the world with these enjoyable individuals. As we part ways and return to what we generally deem “normal” life, I pray that each team member will continue to discover and live out the original glory that God is bringing to the world in them.

And I also pray that you would discover and live out the original glory that God is bringing to the world through you. What moves you? Why did God give you that desire? Find a place apart and talk to Him about it.

— Christopher


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