"Expedition Evangelism", that's a phrase I picked up from Les Zollbrecht, director of Big Lake Youth Camp. He explained an expedition as a trip into nature with the purpose of drawing closer to God. Add to it the intent to help others and we get expedition evangelism.
In a future article I will interview him so you can see for yourself how he approaches camping, climbing, boating, and all nature activities with a sincere spiritual fervor and professional background. This week, I will try to apply expedition evangelism to the rest of us mere mortals.
The best place to start is the beginning, the very beginning, Eden. In the midst of that garden God placed two famous trees, but they were surrounded by many other trees—"every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food." Eden was a forested garden. It was green all over the ground and green hundreds, if not thousands, of feet into the air.
Imagine the Sabbaths Adam and Eve enjoyed in such a verdant place! Especially, imagine the fresh, scented air that filled their lungs with every breath. Today's forests can filter up to 20,000 tons of particulates per square mile per year. The air in Eden must have been super clean!
In addition, pines and other trees emit special chemicals called, phytoncides. This is a name applied to a loosely defined set of bacteriacides trees and spices (garlic and onions, for example) use to defend themselves from attack and decay. "Phyton" means "plant" in Latin, and "cide" is the natural compound that a plant gives off to kill microorganisms.
Phytoncides are often aromatic. On a summer day when you walk in a pine forest that hot fragrance you smell is phytoncides. When we had two days of 60 degree weather here in Klamath Falls the other week, my front yard was full of that fresh, damp, deep pine scent. I purposely breathed lung-fulls of that air because phytoncides are good for us.
Boris Tokin, in 1956, coined the word, phytoncide, and demonstrated it with a simple experiment. "If you add a pinch of crushed spruce or pine needles to a drop of water that contains protozoa, in less than a second, the protozoa are dead." (The Hidden Life of Trees, Wohlleben, p. 156)
There are several scientific studies that confirm what we already instinctively knew. Walking in the woods is healthier for you than walking in the city. Researchers had their subjects exercise in the city and indulge in an activity delightfully named, forest bathing. They compared the before and after effects of these activities on the immune system. Of course, the forest won. In another test "subjects experienced a three-day/two-night trip to forest fields and to a city, in which activity levels during both trips were matched." Increased immune "activity lasted for more than 7 days after the [forest] trip. In contrast, a city tourist visit did not increase" the measured immunity factors.
So what do you think about taking a fresh expedition? What about taking someone else with you on an expedition to some pine trees that freshen the air? On these gray Sabbath afternoons we are having, you could sit with a friend and your Bible under any conifer and breathe in disinfected air that delights the olfactory senses. You could bring someone who has been housebound or who is SAD and that would make your expedition evangelistic!
How grateful to the invalids weary of city life, the glare of many lights, and the noise of the streets, are the quiet and freedom of the country! How eagerly do they turn to the scenes of nature! How glad would they be to sit in the open air, rejoice in the sunshine, and breathe the fragrance of tree and flower! There are life-giving properties in the balsam of the pine, in the fragrance of the cedar and the fir, and other trees also have properties that are health restoring. (Ministry of Healing, p. 264)
Expeditions do not need to be long or expensive or weighed down with heavy equipment. You do not necessarily need to get training or guidance. Expeditions of the evangelistic kind only need to help you and someone else get into nature and go in the direction of God.
by Ed Lyons, 3/31/17