Dust From My Rabbi


Life in  my shoes is about to radically change….. but before I can tell you what that is, let me tell ya a little bit about something else that has been on my heart. I promise it will all fit together in the end!

In ancient Israel (around the time of Jesus), the rabbis of the day would teach the Torah to the young Jewish boys. It would be like our elementary school these days except all these boys did was MEMORIZE the entire Torah…..Genesis to Deuteronomy. That’s a lot right? Well after that stage of schooling, many of the children left school to begin learning the trade of their families or to be an apprentice to someone else. Only the best of those who had been in school moved up to the next level of education where they literally memorized the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures… Genesis through Malachi.  Once that level was done most of those kids also ended up going into the family business, but once again, the best of the best extended their education and appealed to rabbis for a position as a disciple. These disciples weren’t just preparing to know what these rabbis knew. They were also learning to be more like their rabbi so obviously the rabbis were picky about who they chose. Only the best of the best of the best became disciples. These disciples would leave their families, their homes, their entire lives to follow in the footsteps of their rabbi. Learning to be like their rabbi, learning to do what their rabbi did. That is ultimately what it means to be a disciple. And one of the cool things about this context is that these disciples would be following their rabbi so closely that by the end of each day, their feet and legs would be completely covered in whatever dirt, dust, etc their rabbi kicked up on the roads. This is where the phrase “may you be covered in the dust of your rabbi” came from and everyone knew what that meant. Basically, you learned what it meant to be a rabbi and a true follower of God by learning to be exactly like your rabbi in every way. You emulated him completely. You literally learned by following his example.

So with that in mind, when Jesus, who many called a rabbi, called to Peter and Andrew and James and John who were fishermen, it was rather odd. Well, that might be putting it mildly. If Peter and Andrew were already fishermen, that meant that they weren’t the best of the best of the best. They had finished their schooling long before and had taken up their father’s trade. To most, Jesus calling to them and asking that they follow him was crazy because he was a rabbi and rabbis didn’t call lowly fishermen. They weren’t “good enough”. But when he called, they literally dropped what they were doing and followed him. Wouldn’t you go? I mean a RABBI came down the beach and asked them to follow him. DUH! You go!

The best part about this is that Jesus chose them, not because they were the best of the best, but because his movement is for everybody: the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. It didn’t matter. Isn’t it interesting? Rabbis didn’t choose people unless they thought those disciples could learn to be like them. For Jesus to pick people who weren’t the scholars was setting his ministry up in that his message was for everyone. And together, those 12 disciples and Jesus changed the world.

So in this next year I am beginning a journey that will literally force me to forsake my life in the States in order to follow him. He’s called  me, a lowly “fisherman” if you will, and like Peter and James did, I am dropping my net to follow him. And I plan on following him so closely that the dust he kicks up on the road will be caked all over me at  each day’s end. Here’s what’s happening:

There is a program through Adventures in Missions called the World Race. No, it’s nothing like the Amazing Race. It’s an 11 month journey around the world literally following Christ into parts of the world where His love needs to be shared. You know, he didn’t hang out with the Pharisees because they weren’t willing to follow him. Instead, he hung out with the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the poor and the weak, the dying, the demon possessed. And as a disciple of Christ who has heard him call that is where I am going. Ya I’m nervous. I’m nervous about the possibility of failure more than I am of safety and having to leave my life behind. But you know what, God believes in me. He wouldn’t have called me if he didn’t think I could follow him. It’s like that saying, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called”. He BELIEVES in me. And because he believes in me, I know I can do it. It will be a hard year. I will live out of a backpack for 11 months only getting to talk to my family every so often and eating foods I would never try back home. I will see things that will break my heart. But at the same time, I know God is going to use me to demonstrate his love for the nations and that I will grow to be more like him in the process. I simply cannot wait.

So here are the details of my trip (as far as I know them as of now):

The 11 month journey takes us into 11 different countries to minister to. Mine are the following: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Romania, Ukraine. Each country will be different. I could find myself hanging out with orphans (my dream!!), preaching in churches, teaching English, ministering to women and children sex slaves, doing hard labor and so much more. In order to be able to do this, I have to raise $15,500 plus money for/ donations of gear and plane travel to my starting point. This trip is not about me although I fully expect that God will be working on me every moment of this trip. It is ultimately about taking Christ’s love and redemption to the poor and lost of our world. This is not a trip that I can fund by myself. Ultimately only God can make this happen. My prayer is that he does that through people like you who are reading this. I think he is calling me to do  make this journey at this specific time for many reasons. One of those includes the fact that I cannot by any means do this myself. I am used to being in control of finances and have paid for a good chunk of previous mission trips, but this one I simply cannot do alone. I am praying each day for God to help me give the control over to Him. I pray that he will move in your hearts and call you to join with me in this journey through financial support as well as prayer support.

If you do feel called to help bring his love and redemption to many of the lost and broken in the world through me, visit my World Race blog (after Monday June 4) and click on support me. I urge you to follow that blog as well as I will be updating that one *most likely* more often than I will this one. The blog address is: sarahriddlebarger.theworldrace.org

Help me follow in the footsteps of our Savior and may you be covered in the dust of our Savior as well.