#TravelinTandem Chapter 3: Extra Material

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One of the souks, where we started off

BLOG POSTS that relate to this chapter:

A book review of Ministering in Shame/Hono(u)r Cultures which delves deeper into some of the issues I’d raised.

The potential consequences of getting shame/honour culture wrong: martyrdom.  And then some feedback from those far wiser than I.

God’s Big Picture is one classic that I recommend everyone reads at some point.  But for those of you who aren’t readers, here’s it on video.

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Souks are more relaxing for some than others!

Tangential thoughts somewhat related to the chapter:

Top tips for a day in the souks

More material about souks and culture

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Trying to ascertain what goods are genuine local ware, and what are imported or replica kit, is hard at times!

Feedback from readers on the chapter:

“For this chapter alone, the book is worth it to even the most experienced Christian or cross-cultural worker.  The implications of this chapter are so profound, I’ve to go away and think more about it all, and how it affects my life, nevermind those travelling overseas.” 
(A kind, retired, reviewer in Ireland)

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Further along the Arabian window, you see temperature gauges on the street – this wasn’t as high as they went!

#TravelinTandem Chapter 2: Extra Material

[This is extra material to go alongside Chapter 2 to “Travel: in Tandem with God’s Heart” (IVP UK, October 2018).  Video content, photos, questions, blog posts and responses will be continually added over time.]

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The stunning remains of ancient Tunisia that helped me name this blog, but also speak into what the chapter finishes with: beautiful ruins

BLOG POSTS that relate to this chapter:

This one is a link to Dan “The Rebel Cyclist”‘s  blog who shares of his broken moments.  You’ll meet him throughout the book several times – he has an incredible story to tell, I’m sure you’ll agree!

What about when I can’t stomach intentionality in my travels and just need rest, and only rest?  Here’s one for you.

On why travel doesn’t restore my faith in humanity fully.

More on “aljabr” and why “beautiful ruins” have stuck with me so much.

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I did say they were stunning, didn’t I?  Not a tourist in sight.

Tangential thoughts somewhat related to the chapter:

a. Find labelling everything a ruin, too depressing?  Good news.  Christianity is the only worldview who allows you to stare into the blackest of black, and still have great reason to hope.  So please don’t stop looking into the black – it makes His rescue all the more incredibly bright!

b. I mentioned how our own stories can so often dominate the conversations we’re in, or be the things that we choose to define ourselves by. 

That, done for the wrong reason, I said leads to making less of Jesus’ story and more of ourselves.  We invert the “He must become greater, I must become less”.

But what does the opposite look like?  Some will never mention themselves, will shake their head when you compliment them, and will pride themselves in asking amazing questions to open up conversations about others (and they can be good questions).  But this, taken to the extreme is equally problematic.  People know nothing about you as a human, because you’re either always asking questions to get others to talk or telling people about an abstract Jesus, when they really just would be more impressed to see what difference He makes in a real human life.

Chapter 6 will explain more of what living for Jesus’ story really looks like.  But from this chapter, you’ll tell that our silences, our questions, our stories and even our evangelism, all have their “beautiful” side and their “ruin” side to some extent.  But before I’m into another blog post…. 

c. Travel as an educator

The secular mantra is that travel educates.  It’s wonderful because it stops any objective bigotry or thinking we’re better than anyone else.  All humans are wonderful….or so the story goes.  But much as travel can educate, it can also create the most selfish, absorbed people ever, who have no ambition to truly humble themselves and learn.  We’ll meet one of them soon…

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Fun video to go withthe chapter:

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A Roman Colosseum in better shape and with far fewer tourists than the one in Rome – another beautiful ruin in Tunisia

#TravelinTandem Chapter 1: Extra Material

[This is extra material to go alongside Chapter 1 to “Travel: in Tandem with God’s Heart” (IVP UK, October 2018).  Video content, photos, questions, blog posts and responses will be continually added over time.]

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In the light of the Midnight Sun, Tromso, Norway – 21/06/15

BLOG POSTS that relate to this chapter:

On getting distracted with Genesis

On contrasting creation accounts – an Islamic theology of travel

On environment – something that needs far more mention than I could give it in the book, and probably fits in this chapter’s exploration of what it is for a world to be made good by God.  More here.

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What better to do than go hiking and camping 12 hours after we finished our first ever marathon?!

Tangential thoughts somewhat related to the chapter:

On evangelism: We sometimes think creation is good because we get to tell people about our creator.  “Aha!  They’ll never be able to deny him when they see this [insert scene]

But I’m not sure taking the quickest way to sharing of our God is always the best, particular if you have a thinker with you.  Partly because it immediately raises questions of suffering (as soon as they’re with us and see it together), that only written revelation can give a satisfactory response to.  If you’re wanting confrontation, perhaps.  And that’s not always bad.  But 90 times out of a hundred, I prefer to sit with people in their questions, and work together towards a solution, rather than coming with a perceived answer to someone’s non-question.  More on this another time.

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3am in the morning and still bright as daytime!

And your video for the chapter: enjoying life and all the random craic that comes with it…

Follow on episode here

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A rare walk through civilisation

#TravelinTandem Introduction: Extra Material

[This is extra material to go alongside the Introduction to “Travel: in Tandem with God’s Heart” (IVP UK, October 2018).  Video content, photos, questions, blog posts and responses will be continually added over time.  The introductory chapter is short, and so I include a special video with a short lunchtime talk I recently gave at a university.]

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The golden Atlantic shores of Western Morocco where we sat, 4 travellers together.

BLOG POSTS that engage with this chapter:

What Augustine never said

 

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Sunset by the crashing waves

Some tangential thoughts loosely to do with the chapter:

  1. Know any female missionary friends in settings where single females aren’t accepted so much?  Perhaps you could ask them whether they want company on holiday somewhere?  Often it’s the only chance they’ll get.

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One of several dinner-selling friends we made that day

A video made for students wanting to know why they should explore more:

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Hot off the press! Travel: in tandem with God’s heart (IVP UK)

It’s here!  From October 18th (today!), Travel: in Tandem with God’s Heart is available on:

The Publisher’s Website (*ebook and paperback)

Amazon and with free postage to Europe: The Book Depository

The Evangelical Bookshop (*cheapest, and includes free postage to UK)

Unbound Cork (*10% off when you enter “welcome” as giftcode when paying)

All good local bookshops

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Making the most of your travels…

The call to prayer echoed hauntingly across the tower blocks as minaret after minaret sounded out for the final time that night, far below us.  We stood on the rooftop, watching across the night sky as one by one the lights went out in various apartments.  It was one of the few cool places we could go in the intense heat of the summer, when even at nighttime, it was a balmy 28 degrees.  Sweat was still dripping off my brow as I heard my friend draw his prayer to a conclusion:

“In Jesus name, Amen”

It was all I had heard of the last few minutes as my mind had been captured by the nasal melodies ringing out over the loudspeakers.  He looked over at me.

“How do you feel?”

I wasn’t sure.  I’d never had such stark reminders that this world was not my home, than the “other”ness of the sounds that hit my ears.  But the city before me was little more lost than the familiar bells that tolled in my hometown, reminding me of the empty cathedrals and apathy-filled churches.  Not to mention the “cathedrals” built more recently within a few hundred metres of my doorstep in Ireland, some open 24-7 to shoppers and others just crammed once a week with 70,000 adoring fans.  Although here, I felt like a stranger.  That night a tear fell on my pillow as I rolled over again, trying desperately to sleep.  I wasn’t sure whether my feelings were from spiritual realities that lay in front of me, or just because I was finding normal life utterly different and hard in this heat, or both at the same time.

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The next morning we rose early, each muttering prayers nervously under our breath as we packed our belongings and headed off to a secret gathering of believers at an unknown location.

The windows were closed and the singing was meant to be muted, but when the old songs of the native language started being played, the believers grew in passion, unable to contain themselves to the quiet whispers of joy.

“How do you feel?” he asked me again.

I wasn’t sure.  I hadn’t understood a word of anything that had been sung for the last few minutes.  But yet inside of me, something welled up, unable to be controlled by mere linguistic barriers.  I knew I was with family.  Family that I could find in increasing numbers of places in the world, whether in minaret filled cities, under cathedral dominating skylines or beside where modern day cathedrals forced comfort and apathy upon baying fans.  I knew that thousands of miles from my home, I’d found a welcome of far more significance than any other you could expect from meeting people for a first time.  A stranger had found a family.  And I loved it.

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It’s funny how it takes a trip away from home to open my eyes to things the Scriptures already have spoken about on my own doorstep, as well as the eternal realities that starkly presented themselves in the “other”ness that I met those days.  Firstly feeling a little lost in a world so different to my own.  Then starting to understand it more.  And further down the line, sadly often becoming numb to the reality around me as it becomes normalised just like my home setting.

There’s something about travel that keeps me in a learning posture, reminding me of my place in this world as one in seven billion people, and helping me to live in light of every person, culture and people I’ve ever walked amongst.  There’s something about travel which helps me see the world as only the Bible describes it: as utterly beautiful but at the same time in ruins – a fraction of the glory it once was.  And there’s something about travel that makes me yearn even more for a restoration to come – a new heavens and a new earth to explore, as time after time even the ecstacy of travel only seems like a passing thrill, earnestly preserved by as many Instagram posts and YouTube videos as I can manage.

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There’s so much good in travel that I never realised when I first (rather selfishly) booked that first trip away across the globe.  And looking back at all I learnt about God, His world, His Church, and myself, over those days, I’m not only glad I did book such things, but I now want to stop and think twice before (like in everything in life) I am tempted to tell someone else exactly whether they should or should not be travelling.  What if they could instead, see travel through the same lens that God sees it?  What if they had questions to help them make the most of their travels, and stories of other travellers to encourage and to warn?  What if they could travel, in tandem with God’s heart?


Travel: in tandem with God’s Heart is released on October 18th and can be pre-ordered through the publisher’s website, through my supplier in the UK (free postage to UK) or soon from my supplier in Ireland.  For more details of events near you, please see the events page on this blog, or consider hosting one locally yourself, to help others around you of all faiths and none, think through this key topic.

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Pre-order “Travel: in Tandem with God’s Heart” today

 

 

 

 

The final manuscript has been sent off to the publisher, the printing will start soon, and come October, they’ll be making their way to a bookshop (or online retailer near you!).

For the cheapest price so far, you can pre-order it here (with free postage to the UK)

If you’re an Amazon junkie, it’s available through their normal pre-order system.

Or if you want it on the Publisher’s (IVP) website (free delivery if you buy a couple more to give to your avid travelling friends and family): click here

Finally, I’ll be touring Ireland (with a few UK stops too) with a “Travel Experience” event this academic year, so you can buy reduced price copies at all of these events.  Details tbc.

Here’s what others have been saying about it:

I have been travelling internationally for 45 years. I wish I’d been able to read this book years ago – it would certainly have made me travel more thoughtfully: it’s a travelogue; it’s theology; it’s cultural education; it’s mission challenge all rolled into one. A fascinating read.

– Peter Maiden, International Director Emeritus of Operation Mobilization and former Chairman of Keswick Ministries

Loved it! What a marvelous journey through the stories of Scripture (and the author’s life) that will challenge, encourage and widen your perspective, not only on travel, but also on the amazing One who created it all. In a world where it is easier than ever to work or study abroad, this book deserves to be widely read.

– Sinead Norman, International Student Ministry Administrator at International Fellowship of Evangelical Students

Peter Grier gives us excellent, fresh ideas for honouring God with our travels, and helps shape perspective on mission, tourism and the meaningful welcoming of international students.

– Alan Tower, National Director of Friends International
If you’d like to help me spread word about the book, host a “travel experience” evening to get people thinking about the topic, or have me to speak, I’d be delighted to consider any invitations.
Thanks in advance!  Happy reading!

Not all those who wander are lost?

[Guest Post: Alex is a small-town extrovert who loves to travel and meet people with the hope of building genuine relationships to the glory of God. He lives in Louisville, KY, USA with his wife, daughter, and son, where he drinks coffee, makes too many references to Middle Earth and Hyrule, and prays for a future ministry of equipping redeemed repenters for the ministry of the saints throughout the world. 

If you would like to Guest Post, I’d love to hear from you.  We take all sorts of angles on faith and travel, as long as they stay within the rough ethos of the blog (you don’t need to agree with me on everything!!)]


When I was attending university, I noticed a trend in social media and popular culture where people who loved to travel or experience the great outdoors were posting, tweeting, or even wearing the phrase, “Not all those who wander are lost.” At first I was excited, thinking that I had suddenly discovered a host of kindred spirits who shared my affinity for High Elf culture. I was disappointed to find, however, that most of them did not realize the egregious error they were making (to my eyes) in taking that passage woefully out of its original context in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The full excerpt is actually:


All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.

The Lord of the Rings, p. 170 (emphasis mine)

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Photo (C) mine.  Carlingford Lough, February 2018

What popular culture was using to exalt an often self-seeking version of wanderlust was actually a poem about a man whose family and kingdom were stripped from him yet spent his days patrolling and “wandering” the land in order to protect people who didn’t even recognize their own fealty to him, all because this man believed in a prophetic poem, a poem that promised he would one day sit on the throne that was rightfully his and dispel the shadows that oppressed his domain. This excerpt is not an advertisement for hiking in your local park but is a phrase about trust and perseverance being rewarded with a rightful inheritance. In fact, it reminds me of another passage about a man and a promise:

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hebrews 11:8-10 (CSB)

Abraham, too, was a man who wandered, “even though he did not know where he was going.” He did this because God told him to leave the land of his fathers for a land where he would become the father of “a great nation” and he would receive blessings from the Holy Creator God — in fact, “all the peoples on earth” were going to be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). He left the comforts and joys of his homeland because he faithfully believed in the goodness and mercy of God, not even dwelling within permanent buildings or walls because he was looking forward to the City that only God can design and build. His wandering was one of obedience and service because he not only followed God’s command to sojourn in a foreign land, but he also blessed people along the way by his sheer proximity. Sure, his travelling blessed people financially, but every time someone joined his household they were brought into the spiritual blessings of God (Genesis 17).

Like Abraham, we ought to travel while recognizing that we are only able to do so because we have been blessed financially and spiritually by God. Without the providence and provision of God Almighty we would not have the means to leave our front doors, let alone our countries. Every cent in our bank accounts is there purely by the grace of God. On top of that, He has blessed us spiritually so that now we are free from any self-seeking desires to “escape” the hum-drum rigor of daily life in pursuit of romanticized greener lands. We can enjoy our travels through the lens of Christ, knowing that all those who confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead are now foreigners in the world, citizens of a Kingdom still to come, and are being upheld by the promises of Jesus to be with us always, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). We can enjoy and appreciate the gifts of grace found in meeting new people, trying new foods, and the countless “sub-creations” (to borrow a term from Tolkien) of image-bearers of the Creator without becoming enslaved to those things. What’s more, we can share that same freeing message of the gospel with people in other countries.

I am not arguing that your salvation or sanctification and growth in godliness is directly proportional to the amount of travel miles you have stored on your credit card. While I do encourage others to travel and experience new cultures and countries, I recognize that it is simply not feasible for some to take time off from work or dip into their savings accounts to travel the world in pursuit of broader horizons. And I am not suggesting that we should “sanctify” our holidays abroad by making them into evangelistic events (Peter wrote a post addressing that kind of mindset here).

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Photo (C) mine.  Belfast Bible College, February 2018

I would like to suggest, however, that we broaden our definition of travelling: instead of relegating the word only to transatlantic trips or cross-continental excursions, we can view travel as any means of moving from one place to another. Since this world is not truly home for Christians, we are effectively spending our lives at a hostel called Earth, which means that we too are constantly travelling and living in temporary housing like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob before us. We do not have to leave our towns in order to possess a theology of travel because those same truths are evident to us wherever we lay our heads. But once we do have a theology of travel, then every trip that we take to the store, every holiday we take to Spain, and every Saturday we spend at home with the family becomes a part of our mission to genuinely love and serve the people around us. When our love is sincere, then making disciples of all nations is not a spiritual checklist for clergymen but a natural, authentic, and long-term outpouring of our hearts, wherever we may find ourselves that day.

Whether we leave our homes or stay where we are, we should remember that e are still sojourners in a foreign land, working and waiting for our King to return and fulfill his promise to take us to our true Home. If we hope and trust in the return of the Light to chase away the shadows in this world and in our souls, we too can wander and not be lost.

Resources for the traveller: help needed!

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Thankfully I was able to combine travel writing with a few strategic mission planning retreats with my work (IFES).  Here, we prayed for the world from near Nice, France

Please ‘scuse the short break from posting.  I’ve been off on my travels and travel writing and just wanted to be focussed on that for a while.

In addition to this great work that Stephen Liggins wrote, I’m writing an (hopefully) accessible theology of travel (called something far sexier) for IVP UK with lots of juicy stories and practical questions, applications and thoughts from many wiser than me.  I guess busses always come at the same time, eh?

Have any thoughts on faith and travel?  Do get in touch using the contact page or by commenting below.

But equally what I’d love your thoughts on, is a resource that myself and a few others from The River Communities are dreaming up for the seeking traveller (or any traveller for that matter).  Something that they can use on their travels to help them experience God and to break into their way of seeing the world.  Travellers are often seekers of something, and many of them are open to new thoughts and experiences.  Away from home, people will try anything once, if they meet a friendly face.

If you’re interested in this project, it’s in VERY early stages, and we’d love you to be involved or to chip in.  Again, please do drop me a line – I won’t bite!

And finally, if you’re not so sure about the whole book/resource thing, but want to keep online connections going, why not write a guest blog post for me or a series like Marie-Louise did?

Thanks to you all for reading!

Love and prayers,

PG

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Just one pub that I got to spend a few hours writing in, while I wandered the streets of London for a week over New Year.  I normally care little for my surroundings, but I’m trying to teach myself that God’s glory can be displayed in inner city things, as much as in the wilds of nature.  C’est vrai?