There are many ways to get through a jungle. The easiest way to travel is to follow those who go before you. Usually they just walk on a path which becomes warn over time. The path is narrow and small, and is hardly ever straight, because a person is constantly adjusting his weight and movements according to the obstacles he faces, so the path reflects the journey.
The first guy, the pioneer, has the toughest job. Usually he doesn’t know where he is going but he keeps moving forward and cuts the vegetation away as he goes. The pioneer makes many wrong turns, often has to back track and gets stuck. Pioneers often get injured too. But they are trail blazers pushing ahead. Some of what I do is pioneering. Going to remote tribes to share the gospel among people who have never heard is definitely pioneering and I have the scars on my body to show how hard of a journey it was.
Subsequent journeys are not as hard. There is a path to follow. Ah yes, this is the “straight and narrow” path that Jesus talks about. Jesus said, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14) Whether it be a jungle path or the path of life, living a righteous life is following those who have gone before us. Especially our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the pioneer for us. I can try to drive a car on a walking path, and I do often, but I always get one consistent result: The sides of my car get scraped pretty bad and I usually get flat tires and regularly get stuck as well. But you know, because I was not the one to go first I can move much faster down these paths then those who went before me. When I first went to find the remote T’moan tribe, it took me nearly six days to get there and back. Now, on a good day, I could possibly do it in two. I know the way perfectly now. I know the landmarks, albeit they are stones on the road or a rotten tree stump, but I can get there much faster and without too much worry because I know that people have gone before me. A lot of what I am doing in my life and ministry is simply following what others have done. Whether it is guys like Sam Stallings who mentored me in planting churches with Tribal pastors in remote Mindanao, or my own Dad was who a Martyr for the faith in the Philippines, I have learned much about the journey in ministry through these guys. In Cambodia, I work alongside fantastic Cambodian leaders who have been persecuted for their public faith. These are pioneers who I follow.
Most people are living life on the highways. Not only do they know exactly where they are going, but they have a GPS to tell them every direction to turn and makes it impossible to get lost. On two different occasions I took my family to the US for a month or so. During that time, we drove mostly on interstates and highways to get from state to state and church to church. One time, someone asked my wife (a Cambodian) what she thought of the different States that she had been too. Her response was surprising. She said, “It’s all the same. Every town and road looks the same. They all have McDonalds and Walmart.” Just driving on the highways, you go where not only a few people have gone before, but where millions go all the time. In these places there is nothing unusual, nothing interesting and everything is generic. Though there are millions of people, you meet few. It is all about fast food service. This is the life that Jesus warned us about. He says, “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)
If you want to see the beautiful parts of the world, the interesting locations, and meet great people, you have to get off the highways and get onto the narrow paths. They are there, you just have to hunt for them. The journey will be slower and may have some danger involved, but it is the most rewarding path to follow!