Backpackers, Dinosaurs and the Great Commission
Published: 28 July 2011 (GMT+10)
“This was so much more interesting than just the usual backpacker chit-chat—thanks so much!”
That was the last comment from this young German couple, as we waved goodbye. They were some of the tens of thousands of so-called ‘backpacker’ tourists that visit Australia’s tropical north in the state of Queensland each year. The term refers to those, mostly young people, who come for extended periods of time, usually months on end, camping and/or staying in budget accommodation, the so-called ‘backpacker hostels’. The trip for them is often part of an extensive odyssey which can involve many countries. Many are keen to get to know the local culture and community, including going ‘off the beaten track’, much more than the bulk of tourists.
The conversation with the German couple took place in Home Hill, a small town on that backpacker circuit in north Queensland. I had set up camp at the free camping spot beside the railway line. I had said ‘G’day’ to the young couple as I went shopping downtown before getting my evening meal. On the way back, I greeted them again, and we started talking. It began with the usual ‘getting-to-know-you’ type questions about where they were from, where they were headed next, and so on. (The time together was to last three and a half hours.)
Interest in dinosaurs
After a short while another pair—this time from Belgium, joined us and I mentioned that I’d shared a talk on dinosaurs in churches in a couple of other towns along that coastal trail.
“Would you be interested in seeing some of the evidence, and the pictures that support it? I can run the laptop on battery and put it on the table right here in the street.” They were interested, all right. Thus began an unforgettable time reviewing the evidence for a young earth. We started with the number of recorded sightings of dinosaurs around the world, and that they must have been around with people—not the picture they’d heard painted in school. Moving on to Noah’s flood and evidence from fossils, recent rocks, Mt St Helens’ new sedimentary layers and gorges and the way the Grand Canyon gives testimony to recent history. Thousands, not millions of years.
Creation—foundational, thus relevant to everything
It was a natural outgrowth to also speak of the world we live in and the way our culture is collapsing because the value base of the Bible has been portrayed as discredited. I shared that, even though written so long ago, it still speaks to the problems people face today. I commented on the love God has given me for young adults and they commented on that later.
Relationships, and the issues arising and related to that, fitted in naturally; I was privileged to be able to affirm God’s faithfulness in my life during 40 years of ministry. I had brought CMI and other tracts for such opportunities, in German and French and some back copies of Creation magazine. Before passing them on, I put a circle round the CMI UK/Europe address back in Europe where they could get in touch when they get home—an opportunity they seemed to welcome.
Opening doors to the gospel
Who knows where it will lead in God’s timing and His divine appointment? But how wonderful it was to see the genuine level of interest in these folk from a very secular background, the way in which they were absorbed and fascinated for hours on end. The oft-heard views that creation evidences ‘put people off of Christianity’ is, when you start actually using these evidences, mostly soon seen to be a profound lie of the Enemy. Over and over I find that speaking these truths in love opens doors to sharing God’s love and His wonderful Gospel.
I thank the Lord for CMI and the resources that explain things on dinosaurs, the great Flood and more—and also for the magazine which builds further amazing insights. I’m so glad, that CMI being a world-wide movement I could refer them to contacts on the other side of the globe.
I really want to encourage all readers—be prepared, wherever you are, to prayerfully seek and take advantage of opportunities like this, armed and equipped and ‘ready to give answers’ as you present the “reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).