by Rev. Javier Olivares, West District Superintendent

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 NIV

In the book Canoeing the Mountains by Ted Bolsinger, the author talks about the church discovering the uncharted places around us which is the changing world we live in and as a church sometimes we fear to go into those places. The book focuses on five elements, which I will only share three:

  1. Understanding unchartered territory: The world in front of you is nothing like the world behind you.
  2. The on-the-map skill set: No one is going to follow you off the map unless they trust you on the map.
  3. Leading off the map: In unchartered territory, adaptation is everything.

I do not think that when Bolsinger wrote this book, he even imagined the world we’re living in now. Yet, his words resound to our actual situation: a changing world where we’re doing ministry in different ways, leading off the map in an unchartered place.

Ruth and Orpha were widows, same as their mother-in-law Naomi. They all were vulnerable and unsafe. Ruth found herself in a situation where she could follow go back with Orpah to her home, however Ruth decided to follow her mother-in-law. Ruth clung to Naomi trusting her and wanting to discover unchartered territories.

We are on a similar path where we are discovering unchartered places; to discover what God has for us and to lead others in these unknown waters where we embrace the anxiety and fear; where we also experience loss and grief; and where we experience the hope and comfort of knowing God walks with us at every step we take.

In our journey, people are following us, whether we are pastors or laity, people are trusting us to guide them with care through these unchartered places.

Do not fear, take heart, learn, and adapt in this changing world.

May God’s peace be with you.

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Author: Javier Olivares

West District Superintendent
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