Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. Acts 25:11
I have traveled to Africa for several years, usually in connection with a leadership training session or meeting with our African leaders. Each trip has its own story.
My trip to Togo a couple of years ago tops the travel horror story. Our flight was delayed due to storms in the U.S. which caused us to miss our connection on a direct flight to Lomé, Togo.
“No problem” said our airline: we will book you on Air Maroc which flies to Lomé via Morocco. Then our Air Maroc flight was delayed by 2 hours in Brussels causing us to miss our 11 pm connection to Lomé.
That’s when we found out that “customer service” is an oxymoron to Air Maroc. They suddenly turned deaf when I requested another flight on another airline. Only there weren’t any, and we couldn’t rebook our flight for 3 days. By the way, I suggest avoiding Air Maroc at all cost.
We made the best of it, staying at the expense of Air Maroc in a hotel near the airport. It was rated as a 4-star hotel, but I think the scale was actually 4 out of 10 stars, instead 4 of 5.
My traveling companion, a millennial, noted that he had never experienced this kind of travel trauma, although he hadn’t traveled much. I replied that I had been to over 80 countries and traveled millions of miles, but had never experienced it, either.
It was a lesson on adapting to your circumstances which you can’t control. I realized that there were no alternatives other than waiting for the next flight. So I decided to use our time touring nearby Casablanca and hanging out with my mentee.
The lesson to my mentee was one that was caught, but not taught, the same model employed by Jesus with the Disciples.
This post was written while I was in Africa after facilitating a leadership training in Nairobi. It was an instance where I was the one learning. A comment made by a participant at the Nairobi conference made me stop and take stock of my values.
He described his living quarters and didn’t mind living in what we might call squalor. He was content for his family. His explanation astounded me. He said, “After all, Jesus didn’t have a permanent home for the last 3 years of his life”. Profound observation. Our cultural view of a “comfortable home” just got turned upside down.
These are lessons that only come from engaging another culture on their home turf. We might “see” poverty. They see it as living a biblical existence. They are the current day Paul who was content in any circumstance.
Recent studies show that a very high percentage of Gen Z (the oldest of whom are now 22) want to travel. Whether they are using their parents pocketbook or their own, traveling is a high priority.
But their travel model is different. They approach traveling systematically and often spend lots of time searching reviews and finding reasonable digs through Airbnb, instead of a hostel, or hotel chain.
According to Jamie Biesiada in Travel Weekly, Generation Z is the most likely of all generations to travel internationally.
They also want to “live local” as opposed to the taking guided tours. More than a third of Gen Z choose a destination because of social media like Snapchat or Instagram. Marketing to them is different than older generations like Gen X.
They are more interested in the experience than the destination. On my flight home from South Africa, I met a college student on our flight home who had been on a two-week trip sponsored by the undergraduate Business School at UNC.
She said the University’ Business School curriculum includes visiting another culture. They provide scholarships to those who are unable to afford it.
She spent a week in Johannesburg and then another week in Cape Town, South Africa. They spent most of their time outside the city sights and experienced how locals actually lived and were educated.
I told her I was writing a post on this very topic, and she affirmed how valuable the trip had meant to her and that it had changed her opinions on several things. She also confirmed my research showing that Gen Z are “all in” when it comes to travel.
I would add: I am all for it, too. There is an undeniable benefit of learning about another culture. It changes how one views the world, and often fosters an appreciation for your own culture that you may have overlooked.
I have been a supporter of the next generation taking short term mission trips for that reason. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who wasn’t profoundly impacted by taking a mission trip.
The challenge is that not everyone can afford to travel, although it is reasonably accessible to a large part of the next generation. Still, churches that are committed to missions have ways of assisting those with raising support so that anyone can do it. It can be life changing.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Even if your mentee has been unable to travel, you can tell stories of your own travel and let them vicariously join in your experiences. Even better, take them with you on a mission trip.
FURTHER RESEARCH: Travel Weekly on Generation Z.
WORSHIP: Listen to Glorious Day by Passion.
MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.
SUBSCRIBE: You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address.