Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 16, 2015

In Desert Places

Petra and Wadi Rum in Southern Jordan

The past week has been beyond emotionally intense as our team has met with more than a hundred Iraqi families who had to leave their homes under threat from ISIS. We have been on the front lines of a war waged by a demonic worldview lacking even an ounce of regard for the sanctity of human life — a worldview that ushers in darkness and death wherever its toxic presence appears.

Our students have had a front row seat to the unfolding history of the Middle East. Never again will they casually listen to news reports about what is happening in this part of the world without reflecting on the refugees they have met here in Jordan. They have seen the depths of the pain inflicted on individual families by those whose agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy those who hold a contrary worldview to theirs. They now know people who have lost everything for the sake of Christ.

Team at Wadi Rum
When possible, I try to schedule time to give team members an opportunity to learn about the history of the places where they have served. I believe that we gain some of the best insight about people and places by being onsite. An important component in building cultural bridges of love is to understand how people have been shaped by what has happened in their own geographical context.

To that end, I planned some intentional detours this week — quick stops between here and there when we could take an hour to learn about the history of Jordan. Last week we visited the Dead Sea, one of the oldest churches in Jordan, and Mount Nebo, the place where God allowed Moses to survey the Promised Land. Those who are biblically literate know that Mount Nebo figured into the sermon entitled “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” that Martin Luther King Jr. preached only 10 hours before he was assassinated.

Yesterday, we visited Petra, Jordan’s most valuable historic treasure hidden away in the southwestern corner of the country. This world heritage site is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab civilization that settled in this area during the time of Christ. Petra was a thriving place until trade routes changed and it was eventually forgotten. Today it is one of Jordan’s most visited historical attractions.

Yesterday afternoon, we drove from Petra to Wadi Rum, a piece of geography so magnificent that it will take your breath away. Our team enjoyed a fun desert safari and tea in a Bedouin camp. We ended the day by climbing a craggy sandstone formation to watch the sun set in the desert. Later that night, we gazed at billions of stars bisected by a very milky Milky Way as we reflected on David’s words in Psalm 8.

Desert places figure prominently in many Bible stories. God used lonely and difficult places as the context to prepare individuals for leadership and His people for facing greater challenges. In the context of desert places, God helped His people understand their smallness, His bigness, and the need to always depend on Him.

In some ways, the Iraqi Christians we met this week are living in a desert place. Like desert wanderers, they are in a vulnerable position with limited resources and dependent on the hospitality and kindness of others in order to help them survive. I’m thankful that we had the opportunity to show kindness to them and for all that we have learned from them. And I am confident that God will eventually lead them through their desert of pain and loss to a better place.


  1. Very powerful trip. Thanks for the blog updates and more importantly for your leadership in encouraging these young men and women to Go Beyond! See you soon!

    • Thanks for following our journey, Brad. See you soon.

  2. What a glorious trip! Thank you to you and your team for being the hands and feet of Jesus in difficult places. May the students continue to burn with a fire for Jesus that will never go out!

    • Amen, Cathy. On our way home with hearts on fire.

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