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VOL. 37 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 18, 2013

Nashvillian finally finds his calling via blog

By Harriet Wallace

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Jeff Goins

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When Jeff Goins sat at his computer two years ago to blog about his mission trips, he had no idea the whirlwind he was about to stir.

His vivid, deep, powerful and spiritually-based recollections would quickly catch the attention of those following his blog. A publisher encouraged Goins to write about his mission adventures.

Channeling the same spirit of those trips, the 26-year-old Nashvillian set out on yet another adventure into uncharted territory with his book, “Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life.’’

The 175-page book hit shelves in August and chronicles Goins trips to places such as Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Taiwan and Costa Rico. The book not only tells of his encounters while on mission trips, it chronicles his journey from non-believer to strong Christian faith.

He says it tells the raw truth of what it means to have your life literally flipped upside down in an instant, leaving you to trust in nothing else but God while learning, developing and owning your own internal strength.

A life devoted to Christ and inspiring others to do the same is in great contrast to the life Goins says he had lived. Finding a new way of life has been a challenge filled with awkward twists and turns, he explains.

A non-believer as a teen

When Goins went on his first Christian-based mission trip, he was a 15-year-old high student who didn’t believe in God.

“I didn’t completely understand the spiritual impact at the time. Obviously, it was a precursor. It was a really good trip, but I didn’t understand what we were doing,” Goins says.

“Freshman year I got drunk. I felt really conflicted and for some reason started praying. As I was praying, I was overcome with this incredible sense of forgiveness and started laughing. I then just started saying ‘I love God.’ After that, I knew something was different. I knew something in me had changed,” Goins adds.

He had a friend who moved to Guatemala to teach English at a school of about 200 students. The friend invited him to attend the school’s Spiritual Emphasis Week.

"Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life.’’

Moody Publishers, 2012.

Available on Amazon. Com.

“It was the first mission trip where I believed in what I was doing. It changed my life because I saw God move and saw him do things on that trip that we couldn’t explain otherwise. It was a pretty powerful experience. That’s set the way for me to have many experiences after that,” adds Goins, who helped to baptize 50 children on that mission.

‘A call to action’

Goins has since led mission trips to some of the world’s most dangerous areas and to non-Christian countries. His projects have included building churches and other structures, improving infrastructure, aiding those who have experienced a natural disaster, as well as sharing his faith.

Sundi Jo, a popular Christian author, blogger and missionary, says Goins’ book was a wake-up call.

“I knew from the moment I started to read “Wrecked” it was going to take me out of my comfort zone. I love to be uncomfortable, because I know it means change. It’s a call to action. A call to get off our butts and do something different,” says Jo, one of 20,000 readers who have purchased the book (through the last four months of 2012).

The number of people participating in or leading mission trips has grown significantly since Hurricane Katrina, according to the American Society of Missiology, a Christian-based organization.

Rev. Jason Brock, director of church health, mission and disaster ministries for the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church, attests to that first hand.

“There have been so many natural disasters since Katrina. Florida was hit four or five times. Then in Tennessee, we’ve become quite disaster prone. We’ve had a presidential disaster declaration every two years. We’ve been pretty busy here,” Brock says.

The United Methodist church is known for its tight organization and utilization of its churches nationwide when responding to disasters and spreading the word of Christianity in the U.S. and overseas.

The cluster of churches in Middle Tennessee has seen a lot of activity of late. More than 600 volunteers helped with Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Ike, Haiti relief, the Asian tsunamis and others. They still have teams in the Gulf Coast helping rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

It’s always been their mission to help others and spread the word of Christ, says Brock, but the rash of natural disasters has forced them to step up their efforts and call on additional volunteers.

“When folks are in need, hurting or suffering, our own normal life and comforts aren’t as important, and we feel led to go serve others and do what God has called us to do,’’ Brock says.

Independent missions grow

While the United Methodist Church has its own organized disaster response and mission trip structure in place, Brock says he, too, is noticing a growing trend of people like Goins and Jo responding to the needs of those here and abroad by going on independent missions.

“That’s a pretty natural reaction people have, and sometimes it is a surprising one, but it shouldn’t be for those coming from a faith perspective. There is something that represents a mutual benefit. We become more of who God has called us to be. That’s what he’s created us to do. That’s a common reaction that people have,” adds Brock.

Goins agrees.

"I hope they read the book and think differently about how they live their lives. It encourages you to be who you are supposed to be. I hope they will ask themselves if they are living a more comfortable life than they need to be. If so, what changes can I or should I make."

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