I am quite partial to the desert. There is something magical and mysterious about it. I spent years driving the backroads of Arizona exploring, hiking, biking, camping, and the like. Seemingly every bend in the road or trail reveals new vistas and the dramatic landscape has a tendency to abruptly change. While living in Portland and the Pacific Northwest holds a different kind of intrigue I still have sand in my veins and heart.
For that reason, plus connections, plus needs is why Intrepid continues to work in Arizona strengthening relationships, networking, and working towards launching new works as well as supporting existing churches and ministries. While there are cities like Tucson that are special and historic, its the other places outside of the city that ironically beckon my curiosity.
Last month as I drove through and stopped at places like Mammoth, Winkelmen, Hayden, and the like my heart swelled with hope and love and my mind raced towards what it'd look like to move in, invest, set down roots, and love alongside these communities for the long term. However, I passed through and kept driving. As quickly as they approached through the windshield of my rental car they quickly faded from site in my rear view mirror.
But I know people in these kinds of communities. Ministry leaders who shunned the big cities, not because they're not urbanites nor at home in the city, but because they are compelled to move to and plant their lives in these communities while they plant the gospel. I think of them as the modern desert fathers or saints. Rather than moving to remote desert caves and such to get away from people like the early church history desert fathers did, instead these "new" desert fathers (and mothers) move towards people and these small communities where they invest their lives. These are places like Globe, Douglas, Bisbee, Naco, and more.
The temptation when viewing ministry as simply a career with aspirations of climbing the ladder, securing large retirements funds, 6 digit salaries, and the like it means that these kinds of places continue to fall off the map. For many even in the ministry world it is akin to career suicide. Why would you throw your life away there and among those people? And thus we're left to sit in the tension of the gospel. The gospel compels us to die to self. Yes, we have families to take care of and provide for, but what we need are more desert saints. Those cut out of a different cloth who don't care about their social media platforms, speaking gigs, and the like. Those willing to run towards need whether in small mining communities on the backside of the desert or struggling neighborhoods in large urban areas.
We need more desert saints.