After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. Luke 10:1
In this part of the world, many rural villagers have either never seen a foreigner or can't remember the last time one waltzed through their village. Even those who were aware of the differences between westerners and natives stared bewildered at our white skin and lighter hair color.
But we didn't want to be noticed for our physical appearances. We wanted the light of the kingdom of God to shine on this dark place. We wanted our love, not our looks, to be the characteristic that set us apart from the natives in this land. We longed for them grasp the spiritual differences between us even more so than the physical. In light of this realization, our relationships within the groups of two would become integral tools to our evangelism. After all, Jesus said the world would know we are his disciples by our love for one another.
The apostle Paul said the church is like a body, comprised of many parts, all of which function together to reach the same goal. The brain, the central nervous system that governs all the body's processes, is Christ.
In the American Church, the body has become a massive organism with many denominations as its organs and numerous cell systems within those organs. In comparison, the body in this area is more like an amoeba! In fact, in many villages we would be the only manifestation of the body of Christ the people had ever seen. But a simple body is better than none at all.
Bill Shorey and Bill Rieger are kindred spirits. Although an ignorant observer may believe that their occupations are polar opposites, nothing could be further from the truth. While Rieger specializes in the things having to do with war, Pastor Shorey leads an army in spiritual warfare every day. Rieger understands on a physical level what Shorey understands spiritually, and because they are both warriors in different arenas, they fit well together for this mission. While Shorey's responsibility was to set the pace for the teams, Rieger kept him in check with regard to security and logistical issues. By pairing them together, God wedded preparation and dependence, the two great lessons this trip forced us to learn.
Most people at home may be appalled to find out that two college guys were placed on the same team in the middle of this unpredictable land. Frankly, though, these guys were as equipped as anyone for the task at hand. After our deliberation time, the Holy Spirit saw fit to pair them together on Route 1, a route that required a good bit of cycling on day 1.
Unaware that this route would be available, Brad had been training on bikes at the gym for about a month before the trip. Evan has ridden his bike across Georgia at least 3 times that I'm aware of. Also, both of them had been to this country before, so they understood the dynamics of being there as well as anyone else on the team.
Before the mothers reading this throw a fit, the Bills and the Boys shuffled teams on day 2. These guys weren't without pastoral care for too long!
Cool and calm are two words that adequately describe Charles and Frank, the men selected for Route 3. Charles exuded a quiet peace during our tumultuous times of deliberation. He displayed a great amount of flexibility and usually kept quiet except he had something of substance to say.
In contrast, Frank spoke frequently, but with the patience and practicality of a seasoned physician. His 7-year stint as a missionary automatically thrust him into a leadership role, and he handled it with grace and humility.
In his sovereignty, God placed these two calm, collected guys on the route that would be the most logisitically hectic. With their healthy mixture of support (Charles) and pragmatism (Frank), they would be ready for the challenge.
-Word and Spirit-
I was paired with Steve Coker for Route 4. Steve is an amazing man of God with a big heart and even bigger desire to see God's renown spread throughout the earth. Throughout our preparation time, Steve's military background shone through as he meticulously took account of each detail of the journey. But his concern for detail was overshadowed by his desire to let the Holy Spirit guide our steps. With his intunation to the Spirit and my grounding in the Word, our qualities meshed together for the advancement of God's kingdom.
This group of eight men was Christ's body in Destination Country, unquestionably diverse but unified for the sole purpose of proclaiming liberty for the captives through Christ's name.