Calvary Pastors This post comes from Calvary Chapel Pastors

II Corinthians 12:10

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

How can a Grand Canyon River trip help understand how to take pleasure in distresses?  You’ll have to read this three-part article to find out!

I’ll never forget what happened a few years ago while floating down the Colorado River.  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and hopefully will encourage you as it did me.  I’ve been blessed to be able to lead trips down the Grand Canyon.  I pray that you’ll be able to join me on one of these trips in the future because it is one of the top five classrooms on the planet!

Depending on the trip we can usually take up to 24 people down the river with us.  With that many people we need to take two boats. Two boats means we need two leaders, or boatmen.  Each boatman has an assistant called a swamper.  The swamper has one of the most difficult jobs on the river. They are the first one up in the morning and the last one to bed at night—and the time in between is WORK, and I do mean work!  They are long days that leave you very tired when the sun goes down.

Tom Vail, of Canyon Ministries was one of the boatmen on this trip.  Tom is a longtime friend and has over 25 years of river experience.  We’ve traveled together many times, but this trip was very special.

He and his wife Paula are sold-out Christians and love the Lord Jesus Christ. That makes him very unique because there are very few boatmen on the river who are Christians. In fact, Tom didn’t know any others until this trip.  But on this trip we were blessed to find out the other boatman, Wes, was also a Christian. Praise God!

Wes had never been on a trip where the Bible was used to give answers about the Grand Canyon. We were able to share with him and he asked great questions. We’ve always used the trip as an opportunity to minister to the non-Christian boatmen and swampers.  It’s such a unique opportunity because we spend long hours with them and we’re able to break down the stereotypes they may have towards Christians.

So, again, on this trip the two boatmen and one swamper were Christians.  That left the last swamper whose name was Lee.  Lee was not a believer, but he was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the privilege of spending time with.  He was also one of the most hardworking young men that I’ve ever met.  We truly had a great time together.

On the second day of the trip we were messing around on the boats at the end of the day, throwing each other into the river.  It was then that I noticed a huge scar on Lee’s thigh. I asked him what happened.  He told me that he had flesh-eating streptococcus the year prior and was lucky to be alive. By the way, I read in the The Arizona Republic newspaper, that 40% of the Arizonans that contracted the disease that year had died.

I couldn’t let the opportunity pass, I said to him, “Lee, your not lucky to be alive, you’re still here because God has a purpose for you.” He just looked at me a little sheepishly and walked off.  I thought to myself, “Blew it!  I was too aggressive.”

Well, the very next day after we had finished running the river we were sitting around eating dinner and I noticed one of the ladies, Shirley, making a beeline through the camp toward the boat.  Now, that might not mean anything to you, but that’s because you don’t know Shirley.  She was a retired nurse and a witnessing machine!  As a matter of fact she had been witnessing to everyone on the trip. When she witnessed to me I told her, “Ma’am, I know the Lord!”  She then told me something that will stick with me until the Lord calls me home.  “Carl, I witness to everybody because I’m praying that one of these days I will reach somebody who will in turn reach my daughters.  I have two daughters that don’t know the Lord and they won’t listen to me.”

Wow, that hit me.  I have loved ones that won’t listen to me either, but they may listen to you.  You have loved ones that may not listen to you, but they may listen to me!  Are you sharing the Lord with those you come in contact with?  Am I sharing?  We need to get busy.

Shirley had Lee in her sights and was on a mission! I looked over at Tom who I was eating with and said, “We’ve got to pray for Shirley and Lee.”  And we did. Not more than 15 minutes later Shirley stood up on the front of the boat and shouted, “Hey everyone, we’ve got a new brother in Christ!” Praise God!  The day before I’d run Lee off, today he’s a brother in Christ!!!

This was the first on-river conversion in all of Tom’s years on the river. Needless to say we were all very excited. Lee actually started attending the devotions and promised to start going to church. He and Wes live in the same town and he told Wes he’d go to church with him.  I still pray for these two men, would you please join me and pray for them as well?

As exciting as this is, I can’t wait to tell you what happened the next day on the river!  You see, this was a reminder to me that regardless of where we are, we are missionaries for the Lord Jesus Christ.  He opens doors for us and places opportunities in our paths.  My prayer is that we would humbly say, “Here we are Lord, use us!”  Regardless of where we are, help us to recognize the opportunities that we have to have an impact on others.

You’re going to like Part 2 because we will give you some practical points from the Colorado River to apply in our everyday life to deal with difficulties and challenges!

Stay bold,

Carl & the rforh team


Raft the Grand Canyon with Carl Kerby!  in this DVD Carl compares riding the rapids with handling the trials of life. As Christians, we must trust God’s Word and follow His plan. That gives hope and peace as the rapids of life churn and surge around us.  Go to the rforh store to purchase Enjoy the Ride.

continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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