Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Unexpected Adventure

"Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established."
"The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."
Proverbs 16:3 and 9

 It is with great anticipation and excitement that we begin this blog. God has been working in marvelous ways to open doors and create opportunities for us to arrive at the point where we can say that this trip is moving forward, by HIS grace. This initial posting on this blog will Lord-willing be the first of many updates over the course of this summer. With this post we would like to lay the groundwork and for our trip. We know that at first glance this trip sounds pretty ridiculous, so we hope this will make our vision for the trip more clear. We are thrilled that you have taken an interest in God's work in our lives as well as in God's work against injustice, and we will cherish your prayers and support over these next months.

The least important of any of the w's, even bordering on irrelevant, is the 'who'. However, to provide some background and some explanation as to why two grown men who live 600 miles apart are embarking on this mission together, we will provide a brief history. Our names are Jonathan Stockeland and Brady Mulder. We met in February 2008 (February 22 is observed as the beginning of our friendship) while we were freshmen at Kuyper College. God's redemptive work in each of our lives played a key role in our meeting each other, which is a great way to begin a lasting friendship. Brady (Rev) has remained at Kuyper, and is scheduled to graduate on April 29 with a pre-seminary degree. He plans to begin his time at Calvin Seminary in the fall. Jonathan (Viking) is wrapping up a 6-year career with the Marine Corps on May 23, and last fall was led to move to Minneapolis to study law, criminology, and deviance at the University of Minnesota.
    For reasons that we hope will reveal themselves through our actions, we can think of no better friends to go on this trip with, and we are eager to serve God's kingdom in this way, and are grateful for the unique opportunity He has given us.   

The 'what' is very unique and exciting. Last fall Jonathan took a trip from Minneapolis to Michigan on his 49cc moped, a Honda Ruckus. It was a joyful experience, but during his time in Michigan he shared with Brady that although the trip was fun, two things would need to change before another trip could be done. First, it would need to be shared with someone, because it is simply too great to keep to yourself. Secondly, the time that it takes to travel on a moped could not be justified if there were not a greater redemptive mission fueling the adventure. Around a bonfire in Brady's backyard the plan was hatched to go on a trip in the summer of 2011. Fast forward to now. Following with the truth of Proverbs 16:3 and 9 we are moving forward with plans to embark on an 8,000 mile circumnavigation of the United States on our 49cc mopeds. This incredible machine travels at a steady top speed of 37 mph, depending on the terrain and weather. It is 7cc's stronger than your average chainsaw and has a fuel consumption of between 100-115 mpg.

There is something so refreshing about traveling exposed on the open road with the sun and the wind having its visible effect on you, staying away from the highways and traveling through the small communities, avoiding chain restaurants at all costs and signing your name in the guest book of Rosey's Diner in Escanaba. The silence of the ride forces us to quiet ourselves and just appreciate the beauty and power of God's creation. The willingness of people to help with directions or food suggestions or even opening up their home is so encouraging to experience. We are also confident that our unique mode of travel will open to valuable conversations and build meaningful relationships with whoever God brings across our path.

There have been very few trips of this magnitude by this mode of travel. We will have no support vehicle, but will be carrying all of our supplies on the small frames of our scooters. Already in the early planning stages, we are quickly realizing that there is not guidebook to cross-country moped missions trips, and as a result it is magnifying our dependence on God for every facet of this trip's success.

The 'when' of this trip is all but confirmed. If we were to travel 8 hours per day at an average speed of 35 mph, the trip would take between 35 and 37 days. However, we plan to stop periodically to visit churches and other people that we have yet to meet. We also realize that several breakdowns are probably inevitable. With that in mind, we have planned for a two month trip, beginning on May 17, 2011 in Grand Rapids, MI and ending in the same location sometime in mid-July, Lord willing.


The precise 'where' will never be completely confirmed until we are on the road and have our church stops confirmed. Our tentative plan is to depart on May 17, travel from MI to Washington D.C., down the east coast to the Carolina area, wind our way across the southern states to the Grand Canyon and on to the San Diego / Los Angeles area. We then will travel north on Hwy 1 (only where mopeds are permitted, of course) to the Seattle area, hang a right toward the Dakota's, through Minneapolis, and back to Michigan. Not accounting for any short detours or sidetracks, this journey should be roughly 8,000 miles. If you live anywhere near these perimeter areas of the lower 48 states, we probably would not complain if you had a cool shower and washing machine you wanted to bless us with. Just sayin'. Once our journey begins we will be updating our more precise travel plans as often as we can via this blog.

Why. Why would two men seemingly throw away two months of their lives to putz around the country on their mopeds? Or as the people we encounter on that trip may ask, "Who are you, where are you from, and where are you going?" After answering those interrogatives and receiving a blank, quizzical stare, we will say, "Please allow us to tell you why we are on this adventure."

- We both have placed our faith and trust in God, and have committed in our hearts to serve Him with our lives. The whole thing. Romans 11:36 tells us it was His to begin with. To Him be glory forever.
- We desire to share with Christ's love with whoever we meet, and to share with what he has done in our lives.
- God, according to Psalm 33:5 (and many other verses), loves righteousness and justice.
- We have been shown a tremendous evil (Psalm 10:2-11). God has exhorted us to seek justice in this world (Micah 6:8, Isaiah 1:17, Matthew 22:37-40, and James 1:27 are just a few). Based on these exhortations, we know that we are being called to action (James 1:22, James 4:17).
- We desire to make people aware of the problem we are still facing with modern-day slavery. Words in a blog are wholly inadequate to describe the horrors that are taking place every day, so we will not be making an attempt.
- We desire to make people aware of a Christ-centered organization that is showing the love of Christ in tangible ways and making strides in the fight against injustice, International Justice Mission. They are entirely dependent on God and the support of His children for any success they see.
- We desire to stir people to action against this injustice, either through prayer support, financial support of IJM, or through many local opportunities for personal involvement.
- On a personal level, we see this time as... very enriching. We will not reveal the pages of 'pro's' we see this trip providing, but we are confident that it will be a time replete with seeking God, depending on God, crying to God, and rejoicing in God's perfect grace and provision in our lives and especially in our summer together. We are eager to fully rely on God to provide the means for this trip, as well as to see Him work through others to supply the tangible needs on our journey.

Just in typing this out we are seeing that this could be received at two young guys with stars in their eyes, investing a great deal on a wing and a prayer. I am then reminded of  the attitudes of William Pitt and William Wilberforce when they were in their mid-20's. William Pitt was the youngest Prime Minister in Britain's history, and William Wilberforce was the great abolitionist who led the successful fight to abolish slavery in Great Britain. As they were striving for seemingly unreachable goals at unheard of ages, their view was that, "We're too young to realize that some things are impossible, so we'll do them anyway."

We feel God's guiding hand in this 'hair-brained' idea, and in that we rest.