I recently purchased a keychain, the first one I’ve bought in maybe 15 years. It was $2, but I figured it was worth the splurge. The small rectangular plastic encloses an illustration of a red mid-’60s VW Bus, a 21-window, with the words “BIG SUR CALIFORNIA” extended across the top. It’s a picture-perfect image of the American dream: driving up the coast in an old bus with no timeline, no boss to answer to, nothing holding you back. Ah, I can just see it, like it’s right in front of my face … because, well, it is. I could be on that keychain, along with my wife, Lindsey, gazing out through the two-paned split window. Trade red for sea-foam green and push back the birthday of the Bus a decade or so (to 1972), and you’d be looking at us.
We bought into the cliché. On June 1, we waved goodbye to our family and friends in Denton, Texas, with two goals in mind: 1. Find unique, creative ways people are loving God and loving people, and 2. Find the beauty of God’s creation and represent it through photography. Number one is our primary goal and the one that drives us most. We chose the Bus for obvious reasons, reliability and fuel efficiency. Then we had a major breakdown within days of our departure and spent $637 in the first month on the premium gas that burns up twice as fast as the regular in my Scion. That’s not on the keychain. Nor are all those paychecks you aren’t collecting while cruising. The great American road trip is costly, no doubt—but worth it.
A quick back story: Before we set out on this journey for justice, we had real-world jobs—my wife at a major university and me at a cush graphic design gig for a major airline. Lindsey spent two years doing youth work near London and then a year in Swaziland, Africa, teaching orphans in the small town of Bulembu. She went from riches to rags, from one of the wealthiest cities in the world to one of the poorest, most-HIV-stricken places. This transition, along with the call for justice in scripture, fueled Lindsey’s need to act. I, on the other hand, took longer to react to the call to seek justice, but I’ve had a strong desire to communicate truth through creative visual art forms from early on. We had different gifts, but we were both growing in our desire to find, serve, and spread the word of needs facing people around the world. We also both love traveling and connecting with new cultures. We prayed, we brainstormed, and we got the idea. “On the Good Road,” what we’ve named our journey, was born.
In the first three months, we’ve met with 25 nonprofits/ministries; traveled 4,200 miles; spent time in eight states; taken more than 10,000 pictures; and met countless generous, creative, and loving people. We’ve found people serving ex-gang members, the homeless, men and women all over Africa, orphans, teenage girls, other nonprofits, inner-city schools, trafficked people, and many more. The need seems overwhelming sometimes, but the energy of those actively pursuing solutions seems stronger than ever.
Have we learned anything? More than this short introduction has room for. I can say we have seen incredible community, innovative ways of serving, and compassion running deeper than we understood was possible. The beauty of creation and the diversity within it continually remind us of a good creator. We’ve made countless new friends along the way who have opened their doors and welcomed us in. Hot coffee, amazing food, warm places to sleep, encouragement—generosity pours out of people and fills us up to continue on to the next town.
Really, this trip comes down to seeing what it means to be a body. There are tremendous needs next door, across the country, and around the world. As a body, we take care of one another. If the leg itches, then the hand scratches. On the Good Road is our way of seeing that take place in ways big and small. We feel like we’re driving from that hand to that leg and telling people about the need being fulfilled. Now that’s an image for a keychain. Look for yours on the good road. It’s well worth the cost.