Day 75: “One of our team died today. He was very sick and dehydrated. His death made me consider the cost of this journey. However we carry on.
Day 156: “It rained today and the work has been hard. I never thought the trip would be this difficult. I don’t imagine it getting any harder though. We carry on!”
Day 238: “It was −45 today and snowed. Again. I’ve never been so cold in my life. We’ve only made it half-way in our journey. If there aren’t enough supplies I fear we must return.”
Day 445: “Ate a dog today. Not my dog, just a dog. We have no food and the dog was the only option. This is terrible. I don’t think we’re going to make it.”
Day 447: “Our guide got lost today. The snow was at least waist deep in places. We have no food, very little to keep warm and are in the middle of the mountains. Maybe we should turn back.
Day 503: “Had my first taste of Pacific salmon. I can’t believe we made it. I am sure that the trip home will be equally difficult but I can hardly believe the beauty of this Pacific coast. We can’t count the mission completed until we return to St. Louis, but we’ve made it nonetheless!
Although these aren’t the exact journal entries of Lewis or Clark they could very well be. There was a lot of confidence and promise as they started the journey and there was a lot of trial and suffering as they traveled. They faced death, starvation, cold, heat, nature, Indians, illness, mosquitoes, and every form of potential struggle that could cause the strongest of men and leaders to give up and turn around. Yet despite the enormous odds and the amazing struggles and trials they faced they kept persevering.
The lesson for church planting, and for all of pastoral ministry is clear. Persevere. Don’t quit. We will face trials. We will struggle. People we desert the team and the mission. Carry on. Don’t give up. If God has called you to this mission then lay hold of him and the calling He has given and keep marching forward. You may only make a few steps forward each day, but keep moving.
The Christian life calls us to perseverance. Jesus calls us to endure suffering as a good solider. Paul reminds us from the Psalms that as Christians we are for the sake of the gospel “being killed every day”. The journey of church planting, and the Christian life, is far more difficult than Lewis & Clark’s journey. Yet the mission of gospel advance is far more valuable and glorious as well. Persevere brothers. Glorify Christ, advance the gospel, die, if you must, doing it!