‘The Outdoor Salvationist’
Blogger merges nature and mission
By Aaron Raymond –
My love of the outdoors started in my backyard, growing up on the North Shore of Oahu. It was an ideal place to be introduced to the constant movements of the natural world—everything always creeping, crawling or growing. The waves rhythmically crept onto the shore. The gecko always found itself in any and every inch of the house. The papayas always grew fat on the tree.
Fast forward 10 years as I’m standing on the side of a volcano in the great Pacific Northwest, watching the sunrise stretch across the Cascades. The Salvation Army Camp Arnold reintroduced me to these constant movements. By canoeing on the lake, hiking the trails, and playing tag in the meadow I learned to be still. I got into the boat. I romped through the mud. I crouched low into the tall grass. In those moments of action there was stillness. And from that place of solitude and quiet, I observed a movement within myself: a quickening of the heart. It reminds me of Paul’s address recorded in Acts: “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NIV).
From these moments with God I learned his character and the manner in which he speaks into our lives and our hearts. God shapes us, molds us into his image, through encounters and experience. These outdoor encounters in particular don’t occur in contrast to reading Scripture or fellowshipping with other believers, as the “spiritual but not religious” Sunday fisherman would suggest, but is deeply informed by them. When this happens, God uses the world around us to mediate his truth. Drawing from his own passion for the outdoors—for creeping, crawling, and growing things—our greatest joy is when God brought his Word alive through his creation.
It is from this incarnational enthusiasm for his creation that The Outdoor Salvationist began, as a reflection of God’s biblical truths that come alive through his handiwork. The online space—outdoorsalvationist.com—is a personal blog about nature, camping and The Salvation Army. It is for those who are passionate about the Army’s mission to share the gospel, particularly through the great outdoors—from summer camps, troops programs, environmental ethics or biblical lessons from nature.