Each river trip ends with the opportunity for everyone to share a highlight of the trip and what they are taking home with them. We often joke that the highlight cannot include the newly sun-bleached strands of hair, and what they are taking home must be something other than all the sand embedded in their skin and filling their bags. There are many different things shared during this time, but one has consistently set itself apart from all the rest. It is stated in many different ways, but it shares this sentiment:
“We didn’t know each other only [4,7, or 9] days ago and now we are family.”
We are created in the image of a relational God. Therefore, we are undoubtedly relational beings placed in a relational cultural context. God created the family and the church to meet the earthly relational need He created in us. This also means God works His will within the context of relationships. We experience this over and over again during river trips and rim tours.
The 2017 river season certainly reflected this truth. God gathered people from all over the world to adventure together in Grand Canyon and celebrate His eternal goodness. Rafting through the heart of Grand Canyon emphasizes the majesty of God in a diversity of ways. Wilderness travel exposes our dependency. The energy required for simple tasks reflects our need to contend for the faith. The fossils buried within the rock layers speak of God’s judgment. The beauty that surrounds us announces the redemptive nature of God and His divine majesty. However, perhaps the most significant experience is the unity of believers sojourning together.
Every trip reflects the prayer of Jesus the night He was betrayed when He asked that we would be one just as He and the Father are one. Within the hallowed walls of Grand Canyon, differences dissolve and connections are created. The distractions of everyday life are nearly obsolete. The people and needs directly in front of us are all that occupies our attention. The thrill of developing relationships filled with laughter, tears, prayer, spoken scripture, and encouragement dwarfs the thrill of the whitewater.
We have prayed for broken marriages, loved on prodigal children, shared and enhanced dreams, developed ministry plans, mentored across generations, and more. There are no socioeconomic distinctions, no racial preferences, nor is there gender discrimination. We experienced the church; the Bride of Christ united in purpose and effort. It’s no wonder this is what impacts people the most and makes the deepest impression.
This year God took this to another level. The 2017 Canyon Ministries river season was a unified effort of many organizations seeking to glorify God and expand His kingdom work…together.
- Answers in Genesis wrote a fantastic article in Answers magazine articulating the wonders of rafting Grand Canyon with Canyon Ministries. Their fresh words and stunning photography were exquisite and fun.
- The leader and CEO of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly, brought his delightful family on the river with us in June. We are grateful for the time he took to encourage us and share his experience with others.
- The Institute for Creation Research sent Dr. Tim Clary on a river trip with us in May. This resulted in a great experience for everyone involved.
- Landmark Events has been leading Christian-based history tours around the world and their resident historian, Dr. Bill Potter, teamed up with us this summer to share significant historical anecdotes and information relevant to the Grand Canyon area and the Southwest.
- We were also blessed to have the leader of Reasons for Hope, Carl Kirby on the river with us. He brought along Matt and Mercy Hasselblad from Covenant Media to do some incredible filming that will bless people for a long time.
This is the church – one body with many parts. It is beautiful to witness and astounding to be a part of. We invite you to experience the church at Grand Canyon in 2018.