Why I Go...

Published on Thursday, February 20, 2014

manup-mitch-child


Why I go…

By summer’s end, Man Up will have sent 11 teams to Africa serving literally thousands of men, women and children since the inception of Man Up in 2011.  This summer will mark my fourth Man Up trip and 3rd as a Man Up leader.

Friends, family members, and acquaintances often ask me, “Why do you go?”  My simple answer is, “I LOVE IT!!”  But the reality is that there are a lot of reasons why I go and serve.  I would love to say that it is because I am going to be the next Mother Theresa or world changer, but the honest truth is that many of the reasons that I go, I actually consider somewhat selfish in nature.  Here is my list for why I Man Up and Go.  It may not be an all-encompassing list of reasons, but it is pretty close.

Friends, family members, and acquaintances often ask me, “Why do you go?”  My simple answer is, “I LOVE IT!!”  But the reality is that there are a lot of reasons why I go and serve.  I would love to say that it is because I am going to be the next Mother Theresa or world changer, but the honest truth is that many of the reasons that I go, I actually consider somewhat selfish in nature.  Here is my list for why I Man Up and Go.  It may not be an all-encompassing list of reasons, but it is pretty close.

  • Obedience:  It is unfortunate that this term has a negative connotation in our politically correct society, because it is an important piece of our Christian walk.  All of us are biblically called to joyfully serve others and be obedient to His calling, whatever that calling is (mine is to Man Up and Go to Africa). In Matthew 10, Jesus says, “freely you have received, freely give.”  To me, this speaks volumes.  He commands us to freely give of our time, resources, money, and talents.

Recently, I was on vacation and was reminded of this very thing.  As I sat next to my wife parasailing above the ocean, I was in awe of the beauty of the clear ocean water, white sandy beaches, gorgeous amenities that surrounded me, and the amazing women next to me who has committed her life to our family.  As we peacefully floated through the air, I could feel God’s presence in my life.  Times like this make me appreciate the blessed life that the Lord has given me.

With all that I have received, I am motivated to give by serving those who don’t have the same opportunities to feel God’s love.  I don’t serve out of obligation, rather, I joyfully serve as a sign of my faith, just as James 2 calls us to do.

  • Disconnect:  I am a typical man in America.  My day is consumed with phone calls, text messages, emails, deadlines, reports, meetings, projects, and hopefully a few minutes at the end of the day to love on my wife and kids.  All too often, I get to the end of the day and wonder, “Where am I supposed to find time to exercise, read the bible, meditate, and appreciate the simple pleasures of life.

Every summer when I go to Africa with Man Up, I get to disconnect for 2 weeks and really enjoy life.  There is no cell phone reception (unless you want to pay a lot for it), limited internet access (we do have enough to check in our families), and there are no deadlines to meet.  Our meetings with our ministry partners are on “Africa Time.”  Meaning, our meetings happen when we get there, regardless of the time of day.  We have optional morning workouts for the Man Up team.  We have daily devotionals.  We get to slow down and enjoy the simple things around us.  All of the things that I can’t seem to find time enough time for at home are included every day on a Man Up trip.  This refreshing disconnect is an amazing reset to my life and I return refreshed with new passion for the important things in my life.

  • Fun:  I can’t deny the fact that we have a lot of fun on our trips.  Putting a group of like-minded men (with a few women) together in close quarters often resembles a college road trip among good buddies.  Every team has the opportunity to stretch themselves and experience some of the great adventures that Africa has to offer, such as visiting the source of the world’s longest river in a wooden boat, driving through the Ethiopian bush in the back of a Land Rover, bungee jumping in Uganda, white water rafting the Nile River,  or riding four wheelers through the Ugandan jungle.  The truth is though, that the most fun times are always at unplanned moments.  They occur while playing with kids, laughing with our African brothers, or telling stories to each other at breakfast each day.  Fun is a huge part of why I go.
  • Learn:  I think that most men seek knowledge on a regular basis.  We look for ways to get better at our jobs, be better fathers, or learn who will give us the best shot at winning our next fantasy football game.  Every Man Up team teaches me new things about myself, my God and who I want to be.

As an example, I learned a lot from the African men we met on last year’s Ugandan team.  On that team, Man Up watched over 750 African men participate in our 2-day leadership conferences.  To watch that many men show up and passionately worship our savior taught me how I should worship.  I need to seek the Lord with the same passion, excitement and appreciation that these men do.  Overall, the people we serve are happy, proud people who love the Lord, despite their lack of material wealth.  They are a relational society, meaning their time spent getting to know you is much more important than anything else they have going on that day.  Their approach to life is humbling, inspiring and educational.  Every time.

  • Educate:  Most Americans (especially our youth) really don’t have much understanding of the world around them.  I don’t say that to be mean or demeaning, because I was there a few years ago.  In our daily lives, it is hard to think that if I make $40,000/year (below the US household average) that I’m right around the 99th percentile in the world in income.  That means that by living in this country, you are one of the richest people in the world.  God has blessed America with unbelievable wealth.  Because of it, many of us are ignorant to the poverty and orphan crisis that surrounds us.

By going and visiting orphans and widows in their need (James 1:27), it allows me to educate those around me, including my children and the young college students that I work with every day in my job.  Through my experiences, I am able to model servant leadership and teach them the importance of serving others and how much joy it brings being the servant.

As the spiritual head of my household, it is important that I serve as I lead.  Jesus is the ultimate servant.  He had no competition for anything on Earth.  Yet, he chose to joyfully serve…over and over.  While I know I will never reach His level of servant leadership, it doesn’t stop me from striving to be like Him.

  • See Jesus:  A year or so ago I heard a missionary priest speak about his experiences serving orphans around the world.  What struck me in his presentation was when he said “I can see Jesus’ eyes in the children we serve.”  I can’t agree more.

In Matthew 18, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”   The children we minister to are the children that Jesus speaks of.  They aren’t warped by a society that promises happiness through money, possessions, sex, drugs, or technology.  They play the way I envision my grandparents did as kids, and they do it with innocence and enthusiasm.  These are the children that Jesus wants us to emulate.  If you look hard into their eyes, I promise you, you will see Jesus.

My Man Up experiences have rocked my world for the better.  They have made me a better husband, father, friend, co-worker, mentor and all around man.  And, that is the true reason I go.

If any or all of these things sound appealing to you, you are Man Up material.  Join us on our next adventure!!  I promise, you won’t regret it!

See Our Mission & Vision