Dream Bigger

Dave Houser riding a yak in 1999.

I have a photo hanging in my office (the one pictured above). It’s one of my favorite pictures of myself. I’m riding a yak in front of a mountain. Traveling to that remote area was a dream in my heart. I had heard it was one of the most unreached places in the world, and I began to pray for the people there to know Jesus. When I got the opportunity to go, I started telling people that I was going to ride a yak while I was there. It was just an idea that I thought of and called it my dream. While we were driving one day, we passed by a group of nomadic herders. They brought over a specific yak that they said would be the best to ride. The funny thing about the photo is that one of the team members was lining it up to get the perfect shot of me sitting on the yak with the mountain in the background, and right as he clicked the photo, the yak moved. It probably only walked about 20 feet or so, but the picture makes it look like we were flying along at breakneck speed. As we all got back in the Land Rovers to continue our trip, one of the team members asked me, “So what are you going to dream for next?” I think she just asked it kind of flippantly because she was celebrating that we actually got to do what I had been talking about. But the question really touched my heart, and it stayed with me for a long time. It’s easy to dream of things that seem fun or exciting for me personally. But the reason we went to that part of the world was because of the need for the gospel there. And here I was, dreaming about what I would get from the experience.

I was telling this story and my reflections on it to a group recently, and their leader encouraged me to hang a copy of the photo with the words “dream bigger” in my office. As I look at it today, I think about the whole concept of short-term missions. We, as followers of Jesus, want to go because we want to make a difference in the world somehow. We have our little dreams of experiences we want to have along the way. People sometimes ask why EMM has an Advance program and why the outreach part is 5 months. The reason is that we want to offer an opportunity for young adults to spend a year exploring missions and experiencing parts of the world. It’s a first step, not a long-term, rest-of-our-lives commitment. It starts with 3 months of training, where we put together some local service opportunities with teaching, encouragement, and interaction. The 5 months that come after that give an opportunity to experience what it is to live in a place, not just visit. So it’s not this long, drawn-out thing, but it is long enough that we can’t just fake it. It’s a little harder to just endure it. A participant has to overcome obstacles, make adjustments, and finding one’s way through to bond with the culture, learn some of the language, and do life in new ways. I ask young people all the time, “Where do you think God is calling you?” It’s fine if we don’t have an answer, but I ask it because sometimes there is something there —like a spark that God will use in their lives. Sometimes, the little dreams point toward the bigger dreams. What we want is to set our hearts on what God wants to do in the world and then join Him in what He is doing. We want to serve with humility, learn, and grow. Maybe, to do that, we have to lay down some of our ideas about what our lives should look like. Maybe there are things we have to let go of. And yet, not everything has to be set aside. What we really need, is to dream bigger.

Dave Houser serves as EMM’s discipleship coach.

Messenger is a monthly newsletter and prayer guide

Sign up to receive the email or print versions below