Does Hawaii Count?

In my work with PassionLife I’ve been to about 25 or 30 different countries. This year I’ve been in Mexico and Cuba already and I’m getting ready to go to Zambia, China and Romania before the end of the year. Next week I have a very difficult challenge, to go to the Big Island of Hawaii. So the question is, does it even really count as missions if you get to go to the Big Island of Hawaii? In all my travels around the world people have asked me from time to time what’s the most beautiful, grandest place you’ve ever been to? The answer is the Big Island of Hawaii. It is an amazing place: you have the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanos with telescopes at the top of the mountain, beautiful blue waters for snorkeling and amazing waterfalls. I was there about 18 years ago to speak at a church and took a week to just enjoy it with my wife. It was really quite a memory maker.

In all the places that I travel around the world though, I’m not really on vacation. I’m on mission and I’m staying at pretty modest, even uncomfortable places. In my recent trip to Cuba we were without electricity for half the time and without water on occasion as well. So we don’t really spend a lot of time seeing the highlights of the countries that we go to because we’re really there to teach pastors and to equip the church. This also is quite exciting and you may not think of it as on your bucket list, but for me it is probably one of the things that I enjoy most which is to open up the Word of God to let people study it.

One real highlight of my life is studying and discussing the Word of God with a group of pastors. What does the Bible say about life? What does the Bible say about the shedding of innocent blood? What does it teach us about how to bring the good news to people who suffered from bad decisions in their past, including abortion? What does God call us to do to rescue the innocent? So this is my work, but it’s also my passion. It’s my great joy and highlight to look at the men and women studying the Bible. It is the equivalent of the Big Island of Hawaii for me.
Of course, some of the most beautiful moments are when we get to see how all of this biblical teaching leads to direct, life-saving action. I’ve seen a sister in China holding some of the fruit of our ministry, a baby that was rescued from abortion.

I’m going off to the Big Island next week to train students, future pastors and leaders in the Word of God. While I may not have time to go off and see all the touristy places, I am going to be an eyewitness to seeing beautiful moments where people see what the Bible says and how it connects with their spirit and directs their lives. You can see the transformation in them and that is better than going to some of the beautiful beaches or the tallest mountains around the world. This is what I want to spend my life doing: helping people see the beauty and power of God’s Word, and its life transforming effect. I’ll do that in Hawaii with great joy. Then I’ll go to some of the other hard places in this world to bring these beautiful moments into being with the Word of God. So does it count to go to Hawaii? It counts and it’s a privilege. But I want you to know that wherever we’re going around the world, our team loves to see the beauty of God’s Word unfolding before God’s people in a way that is life transforming. And that’s our bucket list.