It is always exciting when Texas Baptist Men gather for excursions. Excitement and laughter were the main ingredients as Jim Mason led our five day river adventure down the emerald green waters of the Buffalo River.
From the start it was evident that a lot of prayer and preparation preceded our embarkation from Steel Creek State Park in Northwest Arkansas. As a result our whole week was bedecked by one jeweled experience after another.
I will always remember seeing Jim Mason waving his arms as our paddles knifed around the river bend. The sun glistened off the cool green waters as I called out to my canoe partner. “Hey Carl, Jim’s waving us forward.” “Something must have happened.”
As we paddled closer the sandbar looked like an ant bed of activity. Several Texas Baptist Men were wading through the shallows rescuing camping gear and flotsam. Our bow rasped up the gravel beach as we caught the first glimpse of a distorted canoe beneath the rapids. It’s angry belly was wrapped around a boulder like a boomerang. Two strangers stood on the bank shivering from cold and shock. They looked very distraught as they gazed at their canoe and surrounding wreckage.
Jim gathered us together and explained the situation. “See that flotilla of kayakers, going downstream?” “They decided it was unsafe to recover the canoe without a z-line and tackle.” “It’s been my experience that we can overcome this situation by working together.” “If we can get one end of the canoe out of the water it should draft up and around the rock.” “What do you think?” No answer was needed as we moved into the channel in silent accord. At first try the canoe did not budge an inch. On the subsequent attempt everyone dug in with extra effort. The nose of the canoe slowly rose above the turbid waters and unwrapped itself from the rock.
Downstream two teammates caught the canoe and pulled it ashore. As the canoe swept away it released a reservoir of water which almost swept us off our feet. We had to form a human chain to help each other out of the swift current. The stranger next to me introduced himself as Jason from California. He was beaming with gratitude as he shook hands with everyone.
That act of compassion and restoration enabled our team to minster and pray with Jason and his seventy-five year old father for two days. We never know when our actions may result in eternal consequences for others through Christ Jesus. By coincidence this incident also matched as an object lesson for the scriptures in our evening Bible lesson around the campfire.
Our whole week was bedecked by one jeweled experience after another. The crown jewel was fellowship and prayer between men who came to trust each other as brothers. Together we learned not only to slow down in the rapids and finesse our canoe through the river, but to slow down our spiritual life and finesse our lives through Jesus Christ.
I invite you and your friends to share the next River Adventure by contacting Jim Mason at email@example.com.
Restorative Justice Ministries Network