Upon graduating from college in Ohio, I moved to Arkansas to work for a year as an intern campus minister. I loaded all my earthly possessions in the back of my subcompact station wagon and set off on my big adventure. I traveled light in those days—few possessions and little responsibility. I made my way through life with enormous freedom.
I thought about this as I sat in the immigration office in Padua. Debbie and Ben needed to renew their documents, and I went along in case the officials wanted to see or question me. (You never know what they will ask for. If possible, it is well-advised to take your parents and grandparents and all your school yearbooks and the death certificates for all your family pets.) As I waited, I looked around at my fellow immigrants. They were mostly younger men and had come to Italy alone and with, at most, some extra clothing. They were traveling light.
But they do not move through this new land with freedom. Most of them left behind parents, wives, children, and younger siblings. This is why they came—because they are not free. They have responsibilities back home. They provide support and pay medical bills for their families and pay school tuition and buy books for younger siblings. They travel light in terms of physical baggage, but the wellbeing of their families and the future of their children rests unseen upon their shoulders. That is why they sit pensively in the immigration office awaiting their turn. Documents mean work, and work means they can send money home.
When we became missionaries, we started traveling much lighter. But still, we travel together; no one is left behind. Immigrants in Italy have left behind the greatest treasure of life: family. They carry the burdens of those families in their hearts. They carry the responsibility of caring for these loved ones.
Eleven of you, so far, have chosen to travel a bit more lightly by
contributing to our ministry among these immigrants through the 360 Web-based
Matching Fund. Thank you! If you want to join these eleven, check out the yellow area of our main page for directions.
God help us all to travel light!