Trek to the Red Centre: An Apology – An Active Summons to Taking Risks and Following Jesus

Some of you might know about this “Trek to the Red Centre” that a mate and I are doing. For those of you who don’t know: a mate, Michael Doyle, and I will be walking from Sydney, NSW, to Uluru, NT, Australia from the 16th of December 2013 to May 2014. That’s a round trip of approximately 6000 kilometres. We’re doing this as a fundraiser for the Close the Gap projects run by Oxfam, as well as to raise awareness about Recognise. [EDIT: Trek to the Red Centre originally supported the Recognise campaign, but we have now changed our stance to be against the campaign]

Ayers Rock Under a Blue Sky

Why am I writing an apology about the Trek? Well, it’s not an apology in the sense that most might think – we are still doing it! Here, an “apology” is a defence or a justification of something. So I am writing this to defend or justify us doing this Trek, at least for me personally.

So here are a few (of the many!) concise reasons why I personally am doing this Trek. Yes, we could raise money with a bake sale. Yes, we might die. Yes, it’s going to be hot. But the following reasons, in my mind, far outweigh any objection (if you can’t be bothered to read them all, at least read the last one, number 5, it’s most important I think):

  1. To remove myself from the city to refresh and focus: I find that city life comes with all sorts of voices telling you to do this, or suggesting that and what not. Voices that don’t encourage you to pray, to be in service of the church, to be on mission. Most of these voices encourage me away from intimacy with Jesus. Not to mention that the air is disgusting, and all this continuous hustle and bustle. I want to go bush for while to focus in on God in a particularly acute manner, retuning my ears to God’s voice and not the voices around me. So I aim to return with a bigger vision of God, an ear more attuned to his voice, so that I may follow him well upon our return.
  2. Processing time: I’ve been thinking a lot recently about church and the state it is in. I am concerned. So for me, this gives me an opportunity to lose the distracting voices of the city and think clearly about the church and where God wants to take the church in Australia and how we need to change. With minimal distraction and the guidance of the Spirit, I hope to progress in this area of thinking on the Trek.
  3. An experiment in sustainable living: as some of you might now, I am working towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. As a Christian, I feel it is both a part of the mandate to steward the earth and also good witness about Jesus to non-believers to care for the environment to a point where it affects our lifestyle. I eat Kangaroo over Beef (generally!), don’t use plastic bags when shopping anymore, etc. The Trek will be a great experiment in living sustainably. Most of our food will be gathered/scavenged, we will be harvesting water, using next to no electricity, and so on.
  4. Mission, prayer and revival: Michael and I are both very keen for this trip to be as missional as possible. By the grace of God and the prayers of Christians who we will be asking to partner with us in prayer, we hope to have many, many opportunities to spread the good news of Jesus with all who we meet. On the way, we’ll be spending much time in prayer for our nation and the church, for reform of the church and revival in the church. These are both burning desires and burdens in my heart, and it is my prayer that the church would break out of the mould and on mission.
  5. An active summons to taking risks and following Jesus: this is most important to me. Christianity in Australia today is slave to western comfort. We are just as materialistic (if not more!) than the non-believer, just as not wanting to be disrupted and to just do own thing as anyone else. But Christian, we have the gospel! Who cares about comfort! Who cares about, “but what if they don’t like me anymore?”! We do! But we shouldn’t! We are so comfortable, so not willing to sacrifice or risk, but Jesus calls us to that very thing. He calls people to follow him and do risky things. The Trek, then, for me, is a call to the church and to anyone who says, “I am Christian,” to risk. It’s a crazy exaggerated act saying, “Oi! What are you doing? Jesus said ‘follow’ not ‘wallow in wealth and comfort.’ Repent!” It’s a call to get out of your comfort zone and do crazy things for Jesus. I’m not suggesting you do on a 6000km, 5 month walk. But do something! Tell someone about Jesus! Fight for justice in the name of Jesus! Stop inviting your mates to church and tell them about Jesus yourself! Hell, even start a conversation with a stranger on the train or something! The point is, being comfortable in the way that the church is sin. Yes, that’s right, sin. Isn’t it about time we broke out of the sinful status quo and were radical for Jesus?

So those are a few of my thoughts and passions and motives behind what we’re doing. Some of you may have more questions (I’m sure you do, the questions have been relentless!). If so, feel free to drop a comment here or contact us on Facebook. And please like our Facebook page!

I’d really like to thank all those people who have been supportive of the Trek from the start. I’ve gotten a lot of flack and general discouragement about it, most of it being unconstructive. So I’d like to thank those who have been constructive in their criticism, and also those who have supported us and offered to help and lend their hands. You know who you are, and I have appreciated you so much. Thank you.

So in short, yes, it’s crazy. Yes, there are dangers to brave. But what God could do with it, in me, in Michael, in our families, friends, our churches, and the church in Australia – O that is the exciting thing! If God would challenge just one person through what we’re doing (and he already has challenged a few!), then it’s worth it.

The Trek and our lives, to the glory of God.

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