“As pain often opens the heart of an adult, fun and laughter pry the lids off the hearts of kids.” — Charley Patten
“So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance?!” In 1994, the movie “Dumb and Dumber” had every high school guy in America quoting that line and dreaming of riding a moped to Aspen, Colorado. At the time, my friend Tim was about to enter his senior year of high school in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of his Young Life leaders, Eric, invited Tim and his buddy Jason, on the adventure of a lifetime: a road trip to Aspen.
Eric made the guys clear it with their parents, but later Tim confessed that he’d just ask his mom if he “could go to the mountains with Eric.” He didn’t tell her he meant the Rocky Mountains.
Their four-day road trip began with a 24-hour sprint to Colorado, only stopping when they needed gas. Once they hit the Rockies, they decided to keep going and eventually detoured through Mexico on their way to L.A. and the Pacific Ocean. On the way home, instead of stopping in Raleigh, they passed through their hometown and added four more hours to the drive, just to put their feet in the Atlantic Ocean and make it official that they’d driven “coast-to-coast.”
6,000 miles. 26 states. 4 days. 3 friends. 2 countries. 1 Ford Explorer.
Tim is now 40 and has been doing Young Life for close to two decades. I once asked him when he started following Christ. That’s when he told me the story of their trip. Tim told me, “Over those four days, Eric not only talked with us about Jesus, but he showed us Jesus. And that trip sealed the deal for me. After that, I was all in with Christ. Cold turkey. My life has never been the same.”
When you read the Gospels, you may notice another road trip: one that happened 2,000 years ago.
3,000 miles. 13 friends. 3 years. 1 Rabbi.
The Teacher had a few years before He was heading off to His Father’s house, so He invited 12 guys, maybe some around the same ages as Jason and Tim, to take a three-year road trip with him. The plan was to go about 3,000 miles on foot. The Rabbi asked them to drop everything, to abandon their jobs, leave their families, and to follow Him. And they did.
Isn’t that what most teenagers would’ve done when given the choice between responsibility and adventure? Over the course of those next three years, the Teacher showed them what real love looked like. That trip sealed the deal for 11 of them. After those three years, they were all-in with the Teacher. So much so, that 10 of them died a martyr’s death. They were so convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, they gave up their very lives, cold turkey.
What would it look like for you to tap into your teenage friends’ instinct for adventure?
The summer offers great opportunities for spontaneity, and it doesn’t just have to happen at a Young Life property. For the past 20 years, I’ve been taking guys on a summer adventure trip in the North Carolina mountains. We hike, camp, fish, jump off cliffs, and ride down waterfalls. We sleep in ENOs, build campfires and have cabin time under the stars. And it usually only costs about $75/person.
The best way to begin is to simply make a list of 10 names you’d like to invite.
Start praying for them (and the trip) now. Brainstorm with them.
Few things are as bonding as choosing your own adventure.
Written by Drew Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org). Drew is a pastor in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has been doing Young Life since the ’90s. Ten years ago, he started the The Young Life Leader Blog and last year released a book for Young Life leaders called “Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel.”
YoungLifeLeaders.org || AlongsideTeenagers.com