AMSEA (the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association) is a group of pretty righteous experts on the wilderness, and they’ve come up with seven positive survival actions to keep a person alive in the outdoors. It turns out these steps are really adaptable for us to more deeply understand and thrive at being folllowers of Jesus. Truly. So, in an upcoming 3-part series especially designed for young adults, we’re going to wrestle with step #1: Recognition.

Before you think to yourself that this isn’t going to be your style, or that the theme doesn’t sound real appealing: I promise it will be engaging regardless of your gender or how outdoorsy you are or how you feel about Bear Grylls. And, really, the group will be appropriate for anyone (maybe we’ll say ages 18+), just with a focus on young adults.

The series will meet on Wednesdays — October 3, 10, and 17 — from 6:00-7:00pm in Player Hall. Read more below for some sense of where we’re headed…

What is there to recognize?

“Survival” turns out to be a multi-layered idea. For me and my fellow pretty-comfortable Americans, it’s mostly just a TV genre, right? We have end-of-the-world stuff, reality/competitive survival shows, how-to’s, and more. They can be hilarious, ridiculous (see the video from Doomsday Preppers), stressful/exciting, inspiring, disgusting, and more. Maybe they’re not your thing at all. Maybe you get sick of your spouse watching them ALL the time. For the fans, we watch to be entertained, to live vicariously, and maybe to learn a skill or two.

But clearly survival involves more than just escaping a staged or fantasy “catastrophic” scenario.

We know that it’s actually the priority-of-the-day for peoples all over the earth, right this minute. In places of scarcity (natural and man-made), staying alive depends on a mix of incessant work, communal sharing, and deeply-embedded cultural practices that utilize all resources. In places of conflict, the task might include trying to avoid harm, to flee, or to defend one’s own (or to ask for defense/refuge from others). The choice might be to endure, or to seek healing, or to offer healing. Or, as some choose, it might include going on the offensive.

In both of those places, survival goes way past satisfying the basic necessities of physical life. How much more is at stake when we consider a person’s mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being? Not to mention the long-term effects of trauma, stress/anxiety, and suffering? I think of the work of some close friends at Invisible Children and Falling Whistles who advocate for rescuing child-soldiers in Africa.

If you’re unfamiliar, the story is that thousands of these young kids are forcefully abducted. And many learn to stay alive by giving in to the abuse and becoming what their captors intended — brutal soldiers just like them. They adapt to avoid losing their lives, but is that really “surviving” the ordeal? Trauma, both what we’ve experienced and what we’ve inflicted, sticks with us and can be toxic. True healing, true wholeness — true survival — must run deep.

It must mean something at the heart level. And when it comes to our hearts, life’s not just about what we’ve done or what others have done to us. It’s about how we spend our days, how we invest our time, what we’re dedicated to. Because I think inaction, monotony, and aimlessness can be just as lethal to our hearts. We can be well-fed, gainfully employed, and physically safe, but be desperately far from actually living. Our hearts, as created by God, hunger for deep meaning/calling, growth, creativity, relationship, and investing our all into something worth fighting for. And if our brothers and sisters are struggling in their own ways to survive, then the world needs us answering God’s call into action. Can you agree?

If so, may we can be more ready to see our lives, and the lives of those we love, as authentic survival scenarios.

Come Join Us.
Please try to make it to one or all three nights. We’ll meet from 6:00-7:00pm in Player Hall for the following themes:

  1. October 3Facing It — Often the first reaction of survivors in a wilderness might be to pretend that everything is normal or okay. It’s time to look at reality so that denial doesn’t cripple a strong survival effort.
  2. October 10Focusing — Even after coming to grips with their circumstances, survivors usually find that other stimuli (side-tracks and “rabbit-holes”) can cloud judgment and delay progress. It’s time to regain a firm path and avoid distraction.
  3. October 17Not Freaking Out — At this point, survivors might feel the weight of their situation suffocating them. Things are uncertain and open-ended. It’s time to overcome doubt and turn panic into resolve.

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