I’m going to Burning Man 2010- why? Because I think it is a place that Jesus would hang out. Along with all the freaks, artists, people wearing only body-paint, and cadre of mutant vehicles in this crowd of 45,000 that assembles in the desert to form the temporary Black Rock City Dave and I are heading out with 5 other friends to see what God is doing amongst “the burners.”
Strangely enough this is considered a research and mission trip by the organization I work for, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, is sponsored by the Billy Graham Center and is being led by Dr. Rick Richardson, the head of the M.A. program I’m doing through Wheaton Graduate School. A number of us in the M.A. program call him “slick Rick” because he’s so unassuming in appearance, but laser sharp when it comes to understanding and relating to post-modern culture and people. Rick has been a mentor over the years in sharing my faith with others so I’m thrilled to have a week to hang out, learn from and talk with him about what it means to be the presence of Jesus to people who don’t yet know him. He was the one who suggested that Burning Man would make a great research experience for my M.A. thesis.
I’ve started to refer to this trip as “the omission trip” rather than a mission trip, as unconventional of a mission trip as it might be. Mission trip sounds a little too much like we’re going to do something for this crew of people, when in reality all we offer is Jesus and an openness to learn from this community of people that has often been overlooked or “omitted” by the church or religious types (hence, the trip of the overlooked or left out). We plan to go and build relationships, pray with and for and share Jesus with fellow burners and try to understand and connect with their spiritual longings and hopefully help them to understand and experience Jesus in a new way.
One of the biggest thrills in my life is going to people and places that freak Christians out and get me out of my comfort zone. I’ll admit that I’ve slightly relished (and been mildly embarrassed) explaining to other Christians why we’re going to Burning man as I describe this new-age arts festival where people will be using drugs and the website states that “there are to be no sex acts committed in public” and I’ll be wearing a peacock costume for the week. It gets me hype because I feel like this is exactly the kind of thing that Jesus would get into- wanting to go where the people gathered to be with the outcasts rather than staying in the pristine temple to hang out with religious folks. If you’re a Christian reading this- doesn’t this sound a little like what Paul does in Acts 17 in Athens? We hope as well that burners will want to hear more about this Jesus who was resurrected from the dead.
If you’d like to be part of this crazy little spiritual experiment, we’d love for you to pray for us & our other 5 friends on the trip that we’ll represent Jesus well to others, build meaningful relationships and enjoy the creativity God has blessed this group of people with. You can pray for Reuben & Grandpa & Grandma Fick as they care for him for the week while we’re away. If you’d like to contribute to what we’ve financially raised to afford the tickets, airfare and massive amounts of sequins for our costumes, you can give to our “omission trip” at InterVarsity’s Website.
I’ll likely be writing updates about this trip in the next few days, posting pics of how our costumes are coming along/asking for input, and processing what I hope to learn and experience. Thanks for being part of the fun adventures Jesus is sending me on!