“Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom his love commits me here…” My heart beat quickened and so did my prayers as our raft guide instructed us to “Power forward!” I watched as the other 6 rafter paddled into the unknown ahead and then watched seconds later as an orange raft flew into the air with no one in it. This class 5 rapid was called the Flying Squirrel…now I see why. All I could hear was the sound of water crashing below, but could see nothing but the horizon ahead. The water dropped off into a waterfall…that was where we were going. Everything in my body was telling me to go the other way. “Harder forward!” he yelled, (…ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide…) “aaand DOWN DOWN DOWN!!” We all ducked into the raft and prepared for the hit. I closed my eyes right as the water was about to crash down. I only know what happened after that because of the pictures we later bought, but all I know is that when I opened my eyes we were all flying in the air above the water…in the raft! When we landed safely in gentler water we all looked around at each other and started wooping and screaming in victory! We did it! We flew! We didn’t fall out! Even the guide was excited. It had been a long time since he made it past there without getting tossed out. We hit it at just the right place and time…success! My heart was beating fast still, but this time it was out of pure excitement rather than fear. It’s a good feeling. Now I remember why I do the crazy things I do. Even the next day when I woke up and every muscle in my body ached and I was nauseous from Nile River water ingestion for days, I still think it was worth it.

Some people think this is crazy, I know. Why put your life at risk? some people would ask. Others may not say it, but they might think, “you’re just asking for it.” Still others might even like to do these types of things, but they are just too scared of the possible consequences. They think it’s better to just play it safe. You know what I think though? Life is just too short to “play it safe.” God doesn’t want us to just have comfortable, mediocre lives. In the Bible, He calls His apostles to risk their lives on a daily basis for Him. I’m not talking extreme sports anymore; I’m talking about being an awesome Christian. And those same things that people might say about extreme sports (“You’re crazy,” “you’re asking for it,” or “good for you but I’d never do that”) are the same things that people have said to me about coming to Uganda. As a matter of fact, some people even criticized me, criticized my whole family for “allowing me” to do such a thing…as if they could stop me anyway;)

Author Shane Claiborne says in his book “Becoming the Answer to our Prayers”: “Some Christians take so few risks, it’s no wonder folks have a hard time believing in heaven. The scriptures say that we should not fear those things which can destroy the body, but we are to fear that which can destroy the soul (Matthew 10:28).” The point Claiborne was getting at was this: many of us go to church on Sunday because that’s safe, but how many of us would give our lives to God? On the other hand, how many of us let our fears of danger and evil over-power our trust in God? I’d venture to say, most of us.

Many of my friends would say that church and religion is booooring. Yea mass is pretty ritualistic, but aside from that, why is it boring? Maybe it’s because we’re not taking enough risks as a church. Aside from going to mass on Sunday, what are we doing? Are we going out into the “bad” parts of town to give people food and the word of God? Are we protesting what we believe is wrong? Are we reaching out to those who have been rejected in our society and bringing them to God? God calls us all to be a light in the darkness, but that requires us to first GO to where it is dark. That’s hard to do, that’s scary, that’s risky. But you know what it’s not? It’s not boring!

I used to be more afraid. I even let some people get in my head before I came to Uganda. I heard and read about so many horrible things that I really questioned why in the world I was about to do something like this. I prayed. I even had nightmares about it sometimes. I was being challenged, and it was scary. I didn’t let on to my family that I was nervous because they did enough worrying for all of us. I watched many others go before me and I heard about the peril. But now that I’ve overcome that initial fear and I’m here serving as I believe God is calling me to, I have felt more joy than at any other time in my life. I’ve never been one for sharing my beliefs so outwardly, but now I want to tell everyone about the awesome things God has done in this place and all over the world! I remember now why I wanted to do this in the first place. It’s a great feeling. And yes, even though I wake up sore every morning and I miss my family and friends tremendously, I still know that it is incredibly worth the risk.

So…beyond logic, beyond comfort, beyond safety…that is where you will find God. But if you are living out your life in the name of God, then you must also have faith that He will protect you. Luke 12:4-12 tells us: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear; Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

And so it would seem that as far as God is concerned, it’s more dangerous to play it safe.

On the Flying Squirrel Class 5...we somehow stayed on

We made it! Wooo