Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 4, 2009

Graves of the Living

Dubai, United Arab Emirates en route to Kampala, Uganda

My heroes have always been travelers – those willing to venture beyond the comforts and security of home. I enjoy reading about the adventures of travelers, explorers, and missionaries whose discoveries and experiences have contributed to our understanding of the places and peoples of our planet.

I have great admiration for those who dreamed about distant horizons and dared to lose sight of the shore in order to reach them. In many ways, we are the beneficiaries of their courage. Some of these intrepid individuals returned to their homes and countless others lie buried in plots long forgotten.

I come from a family of travelers whose passports bear the stamps of a hundred countries. From the time I was a kid listening to conversations about far-away places to today, travel excites me. I like to travel but, more importantly, I love to travel with a purpose.

The thing that makes travel meaningful for me is the opportunity to travel as Christ’s ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20). I want to “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples!” (Ps. 96:3). I want to strategically invest my life for the sake of God’s purpose to make the nations glad in Him (Ps. 67:4). That means leaving home in order to engage with others — from my own community to the ends of the earth.

Making a difference for the kingdom must begin at home. God entrusted parents with the primary responsibility of teaching their children about Him and about His purposes (Ps. 78:1-8). However, making a difference for the kingdom also means leaving our homes, whether that means walking across the street or flying around the world to declare His glory. Despite the benefits of a good home, if we are not careful, staying at home may actually work against God’s purposes.

In his book entitled “Don’t Waste Your Life,” John Piper cautions: “No one will ever want to say to the Lord of the universe five minutes after death, I spent every night playing games and watching clean TV with my family because I loved them so much.” Piper continues, “I think the Lord will say, ‘That did not make me look like a treasure in your town. … Even sinners work hard, avoid gross sin, watch TV at night, and do fun stuff on the weekend. What more are you doing than the others?’” Indeed, what more? What makes us distinctive? What kind of example of selfless service that takes us beyond the comforts of home are we setting for our children?

As much as I enjoy traveling, I also enjoy coming home. Home is a safe, secure, and comfortable place for me – a place to renew my strength. I am so blessed to have such a nice home to return to after serving others – whether through weekend service initiatives or after engaging with unreached peoples on the other side of the world. One thing is certain, I want to be careful lest the comforts of home keep me from taking God’s love to those outside my home.

The Tuareg people of Niger are a nomadic group who traverse the sands of the Sahara. These nomads value their freedom of movement so much that they believe houses are the graves of the living. We can learn a thing or two from the Tuareg. Don’t get so caught up in buying new curtains and watching TV and doing fun stuff that you fail to declare His glory among the nations. Don’t let your home become a grave of the living.


  1. Omar,

    My conviction to become more effective, to go far in the Lords service increases every time I read one of your posts from the road.

    For now, I prepare, and wait on Gods call for the opportunity to Go Beyond.

    Have a safe trip.

    God Bless

  2. Chad…

    Thanks for your comment. God bless you for all you are already doing to impact others through your Bags of Hope initiative and your concern for the least of these. Thanks for mobilizing your family to participate as well. Perhaps one day we’ll get to share a missions experience together.


  3. Oh, Omar….you do have a way of speaking straight into the heart!

    We will be praying for you and the team, as always. Be safe.

    And…try not to eat any perros this time….

  4. Hi Laura…

    Thanks for your comment. Thanks also for going beyond in your missions involvement and in your service to our country.
    Fortunately, “perros” are not on the menu in Uganda.But, I did try a bite of crocodile at dinner last night. Honestly, the “perro” was tastier!


  5. Our family is praying for you and the team every night while you are in Uganda. Thank you for challenging us to get out of our comfort zone and serve sacrificially.

  6. Hi Ely…

    Thanks a million for your prayers. We had a good day of training today in a village called Mbale. As I reply to your comment on my BlackBerry we are making the 350 km trek back to Kampala. Looking forward to working with Rahab Ministry tomorrow, a ministry to women in prostitution. Please thank your family for their prayers.


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