In This Issue: Ten reasons you should get out of Dodge
- Short Summer Shot: Ten Reasons You Should Get Out of Dodge
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Alba Jean was my favorite professor ever. She was a secular Jew, Polish in ethnicity but Argentine by birth, and a then-resident of Muncie, Indiana. Alba Jean gave my fellow sophomores and me a mandate: “Before you get married, take jobs, buy houses, and settle down in Muncie – get out of the US. Experience some of the rest of the world.” This remark struck a chord deep in my soul and I took action on it. Alba Jean mobilized me!
What Alba Jean did for me, I want to do for you, and I want us to do the same for others. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of the right kind of encouragement to kick someone out of their cultural nest – to encourage them to “get out of Dodge.”
Because it’s June and (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) you may have fun summery things to do, I want to keep this to the short shot promised in the headline and share it with a bit of fun. So here we go:
Ten Reasons You Should Get Out of Dodge
1. For the exercise. You will walk more than you normally do. Probably a good thing if you are an American (like me). One day last week in Madrid I walked 22,000 steps! I know that because my new friend Javier, who used to mind the checkbook for an entire South American country, had a little pedometer to tell us so.
2. For the food. There is great food outside of Dodge. In this case, “out of Dodge” can be at an ethnic restaurant or delivered from Amazon. But Pad Thai is tastier in Thailand. While baklava is something you should consume whenever you get a chance, my experience says the best comes from sitting on the floor with a kind Turkish family in Adana and eating from a common pan.
3. For the smells. I’m a big fan of books and a growing fan of e-readers, but you can’t get smells from a book. Oh yeah, you get out of Dodge and there will be stinkiness for sure. But God has endowed the earth in some ways only perceived through our noses. And you pretty much have to be near this kind of beauty to enjoy it.
4. It’s a great chance to learn from experience. (The word “experience” here being a euphemism for “failure.”) Nothing takes you down a peg or two like the inability to communicate or realizing the day before you return home that the brilliant insight you thought you had on day two was 180 degrees off!
I wrote about failure in a recent edition of Practical Mobilization. If you’re brave enough to share failure, hop over to Admitting Missions Mistakes on Facebook. You can read about a recent mistake from our esteemed (and incidentally, newly married) editor and maybe share your own tale of woe!
5. If you get out of Dodge, God will be able to speak to you more clearly. Actually, it’s more that getting out of your normal situation makes you more dependent on him, and that can make it easier for you to hear what he’s been saying all along!
6. Your friends need you to take them. They’re not going to go without someone holding their hand. You are a good hand-holder. Please don’t dismiss this. And if you’ve been out of Dodge twice, don’t go again without taking someone with you.
7. There are cities full of people out there who need people who love Jesus to shine in the midst of their sorrow and pain and say, “There’s hope.” Jesus still says the kingdom is at hand (Mark 1:14-15). Many people need to hear this story he’s given us to tell.
8. There are people for you to meet “out of Dodge” who will shape your life and who are praying and waiting for God to bring you to them. Your gifts and skills in partnership with theirs can do wonderful things for the kingdom of God.
9. It’s a good use of money. Asking for financial help to go tell the story of Jesus where it hasn’t been heard will release money for building the kingdom of God that would probably not be available for that purpose otherwise. People will give money to get you and your buds out of Dodge that they might otherwise use to super-size their McDonald’s meal. (Everyone wins but Ronald!)
Similarly, it’s a good use of your money. If you don’t spend your money to get out of Dodge (the metaphorical town), you’ll be tempted to spend it to get into a new Dodge (the car). Some of us are so good at accumulating stuff! Can I humbly say we might do better using some of our money on life-changing experiences? (It almost, but not quite, goes without saying: we might do even better yet to give our money to people who don’t have important stuff like bread and roofs and clothes.)
10. The world is full of intense beauty that you need to see. If you went to Yosemite National Park, got out of your car, and walked only one hour away from the parking lot, you would see more beauty than 95 percent of visitors, right? (I made up that statistic, but you get the idea!) Go to an ethnic restaurant, an ethnic enclave in a nearby city, a distant city, or another country or continent and you will see more amazing things than most of your brothers and sisters. This will enrich and shape your life. It will teach you about God, his kingdom, and all these people that he loved enough to become one of them.
>> So how about it? Ready to get of Dodge? What barriers or issues keep you home? If God swung the door wide open, where would you go? Let the rest of us know.
I’ll be back with another Short Summer Shot of Practical Mobilization in July.
Shane Bennett has served in missions mobilization since 1987, much of his energy going to recruiting, training, and sending short-term teams. He’s been on research teams in Bangkok, Bombay, and Turkey. He coauthored Exploring the Land, a guide to researching unreached peoples, and has written numerous articles.