Hiking with Luke5Adventures - Tait Berge
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Hiking with Luke5Adventures

A friend contacted Kelly and me a few weeks ago with a request. Her church was considering partnering with a ministry that takes people who have disabilities on hikes. Without hesitation, I said yes. It sounded fun. I love the outdoors and hikes.

Five minutes before we left to meet up with the group, I decided to watch a news report about what I was going to participate in that morning. Looking back, I should have known. The media’s spin misses the mark when reporting on disabilities. The story made it sound like the ministry felt sorry for disabled people. As if they were doing this great thing to help them go on hikes.

Their reporting gave me a bad taste. Was this going to be a ministry that feels sorry about disabled people and wants to do a nice thing for them? If so, I didn’t have time for this. My body showed my negativity. Kelly felt she had to remind me that I made a commitment and I need to follow through with it. Maybe I thought about backing out for a minute or so, but I still wanted to see for myself.

Luke 5 tells a story about men carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus. Once Jesus saw their faith, he heals the man. Based on that story, Luke 5 Adventures takes people on hikes by using a specially designed “cart”.

The cart looks like a one-horse buggy. Two handles are in the front that someone carries and guides the hike. A pusher in the back pushes and breaks it. I sit in a comfy seat in the middle. One bicycle wheel is under me to help move the team down the trail. It can fold up so the cart can sit on the ground or get over obstacles, otherwise the two-person team guides the cart over the trail.

At first, I thought so what? I can get a track chair and go anywhere I want. Track chairs have giant wheels and go over rocks, tree roots, all kinds of stuff. That’s more interesting to me because it gives me independence rather than relying on people to carry me. (the only time I tried a track chair was in a gymnasium. I still want to take one for a spin out in the woods.)

I was still willing to give this thing a try, and I’m glad I did. I still felt I was at the mercy of my guides especially when we were walking on a smooth path, however, that wasn’t the point of the demonstration. Once we found a difficult spot, the fun began. I would have never thought to turn off the trail into a ravine. My team unexpectantly took that turn and down the ravine we went!

At the end of the trail, we stepped back up to view the vast western side of the city. I sat on a rock, and once again I was somewhere I never knew existed. “Get out your phone,” I told Kelly. “We are going to take our Christmas picture right here!”

Other thoughts. Remember that video I watched right before I went on the hike?Well, there was a quote by the founder that made me angry. Here’s it is from Luke 5 Adventures website

“As I approached her, I wanted so badly to excitedly share my recent hiking experience, but found myself in the throws of a mental wrestling match—‘Do I?, don’t I?, do I, don’t I?’ The words caught in my mouth and I ultimately decided not to tell her, fearful that my excitement would actually be insensitive, because what I was about to share was impossible for her to ever experience herself.  In hindsight, I am convinced that God held my tongue that day.” (https://www.luke5adventures.com/about)

My response: God didn’t hold your tongue. You did! Let me take that back. I believe God held your tongue because he was giving you his vision for this ministry, but he didn’t stop you from sharing with your friend.

See, I don’t know of a person who doesn’t like to hear stories. I actually seek out stories about hikes. My favorite book In the last year was about a guy who hiked the Appalachian Trail. Maybe somewhere deep in my mind I have a dream about hiking the Appalachian mountains, but I rarely sit and think about it. I have too many other things that God has called me to do than to sit around wishing I could do something. It’s a waste of time.

Part of your job is to tell me this is possible…not because you think that I feel left out, but because you know you can take me places that I never thought about going. This is what the friends did in Luke 5, by the way. They probably saw Jesus heal people before and thought, “ know what? What if we could bring Zach to Jesus?” They went back to Zach and told him that he was going for a “ride”.  That’s an important part of your ministry…to get people thinking about what is possible.

It’s like when I played sled hockey for the first time. I had always loved hockey but I never thought much about it beyond thinking if I’d probably play hockey if I could. Then my friend told me that there was a sled hockey team in Colorado Springs, I went out to try it and played on the team for the next four years. Give me the opportunity and I’ll take it, but don’t assume that I feel left out when you tell me about you passion.

Are there people out there who feel sorry for themselves…who feel stuck no matter what circumstances they are in? You bet! There’s an opportunity for ministries to come aside and show them what’s possible. Give them a day on the trail going over rocks and through creek beds. And as you go, what better way to hear the good news concerning Jesus Christ. Frankly, they need a swift kick in the butt and maybe a dip in a river…for more than one reason, if you catch my drift. I thank God for your ministry and hope it’s a success.

One more thought. When I was out on the trail that morning, I kept thinking about my friends from church. I missed them. The volunteers who helped me were nice enough, but they had conversations with each other and not exactly with me. I enjoyed their company, but I wanted my friends. I wanted to tease them along the trail and have those deep spiritual conversations people have as they walk together.

I take note that Luke 5 Adventures does host days where families affected by disability come out for hikes. Nothing wrong with this model. Experiencing God’s creation is something everyone should experience. But what if we could also experience the sheer joy of sharing this experience with our own friends? Would this not make the bond of our friendship even richer? I hope there will be opportunity for people like me to invite our friends for a day of adventure and fellowship with God’s creation while we laugh and tell stories.


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