Watch the Video "Into All the World" on You Tube (Approximately 30 minutes total)
Into All the World Part 1
Into All the World Part 2
Into All the World Part 3
Into All the World Part 4
Joshua's father, Michael Guthrie shares a message of hope and inspiration at the Geneva College 2010 Homecoming Event. Below is the printed text of that message. Special thanks to Geneva College for the opportunity to share about Joshua Guthrie's life and dreams.
Into All The World--Josh Guthrie Outrageous Dreamer
"Into all the World"...it is such a vast and expansive idea. The call of Jesus to spread the Good News of his love and forgiveness to all peoples leaves so many of us paralyzed by hugeness of the task. And so like the cluttered closet, the overflowing garage, or the jammed e-mail box where we just don’t know where to begin, we conclude that it is far easily to shut the door than to attempt the impossible and fail. It isn’t that we haven’t heard the invitation of our Savior to go into all the world with the message of hope, restoration, and salvation. It isn’t that we doubt the truth that a relationship with Jesus Christ transforms the lives, families and culture. But we doubt that one person can make a difference. More importantly, we doubt that we can make a difference. We believe that the small talents or resources we have to offer can’t make a dent or a lasting difference in this big and complicated world that we live in. But that is simply not true. And thankfully along the way God brings to us people who believe differently and act on that belief. People who agree with the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:
These people are the "Outrageous Dreamers" that the Apostle Peter first introduced to the world on the day of Pentecost. Men and women who have been soaked to the bone by the Holy Spirit in order that they might see the world differently and risk themselves to go into all the world with Good News of God’s hope. As Acts 2:17 declares:
What is an "Outrageous Dreamer?" The Merriam/Webster dictionary defines "outrageous" as: "exceeding the limits of what is usual, not conventional or matter-of-fact : fantastic." It defines a "dreamer" as: "one that dreams, one who lives in a world of fancy and imagination, one who has ideas or conceives projects regarded as impractical : visionary" If the words could be put together in the dictionary the phrase would have Joshua Guthrie’s name next to it. Exceeding the limits of what was usual, not conventional or matter-of-fact, conceiving projects others regarded as impractical, fantastic and visionary-- that was Joshua Guthrie.
Josh lived life in an outrageous way, he exceeded the limits of what was usual throughout his life and in most of what he did. It was outrageous when Josh decided to live in a tent near the Geneva rugby field for 3 months when his off campus housing fell through his first semester after transfer to Geneva. It was outrageous when he used the Pisgah program climbing ropes to repel in the middle of the night off the school bell tower and Mckee Hall, the girls dorm. It was outrageous when he repelled off the back of the student center before realizing he had miscalculated the length of those same ropes. It was outrageous when he got up in the early morning darkness and posted more than a 100 photos of his sister Bekah all over campus on her birthday so that the entire Geneva campus knew it was his "shy" sister’s birthday. It was outrageous when he released "fast Eddy" an energetic fox squirrel loose in the beautiful campus cafeteria at the height of mealtime. It was outrageous when he wheeled his little barbecue grill down the street on homecoming day and gave away free hotdogs and sodas in order to promote his missionary pilot ministry–much to the dismay of the other food vendors. It was outrageous when he gave his brand new bike away to a student from Africa, because that student had to work off campus and Josh just used the bike for fun. It was outrageous when I gave him money to help him pay his bills and he instead used it to help out friends who had it harder then he did. It was outrageous when he invited a devout Muslim student whom he had never met to share an apartment with him, a Christian missionary. It was outrageous when Josh passed up piloting and aircraft mechanics jobs that held the promise of great sums of money and exotic places out of concern that a life of ease and comfort would turn his heart from his true life mission. Josh Guthrie lived his life in an outrageous way, he exceeded the limits of what was usual, and he was anything but conventional.
Josh Guthrie also lived as a dreamer. He dreamed that gathering a group of Geneva students to join others college students in sleeping on the streets of Pittsburgh would make others aware of the Invisible Children of Uganda, young boys forced to be child soldiers. He dreamed that getting students together to organize the first mission’s conference at Geneva in recent memory would challenge the campus community to think about the call of God to go into all the world. He dreamed of using airplanes to enable the Gospel message to reach the most remote parts of the world. He dreamed of creating networks of people who could come together with whatever large or small gifts or talents God had entrusted to them, so that they might have to make a eternal difference for Jesus Christ.
Josh Guthrie lived as an outrageous dreamer who could not be satisfied to simply pursue the vision that God had placed in front of his life, but to encourage others to be outrageous dreamers themselves. He believed that any person committed to passionately pursuing the outrageous dreams that the Holy Spirit had implanted in them would see God accomplish something amazing. And so Josh listened and actively encouraged hundreds of people in pursuing the outrageous dreams God had given to them. Joshua often shared his favorite passage in Jeremiah 29:11 which says:
But Josh also knew that no big dream comes without big struggles. We all struggle with what we want, what we plan, and what we hope for the future. And we struggle with how what we want, plan, and hope fits in to the great plan that God has set in motion to save and reconcile the entire world. Josh knew that struggle. It’s the struggle of young men and young women filled with outrageous dreams to make a difference in the world and the realities that challenge and assault those dreams. Outrageous dreams that are tested by the harsh realities of making a living, paying the bills, taking care of family needs, choosing a life partner, getting an education, health issues, being trained and a hundred other mundane and difficult things that life throws at us at every turn. Few who really dream big escape the big challenges between the future they imagine will change the world and a world that instead has a proven history of changing people to conform to it. Outrageous dreams always face equally outrageous obstacles.
Josh faced outrageous struggles and obstacles as he dreamed of making a difference with the gifts he possessed and the skills he came to learn. He struggled with frustrations when his flight school went out of business as he neared the end point of one critical phase of training which required him to restart that phrase and pay again the considerable expenses associated with it. He struggled with year long unknown physical illness that was initially thought to be the terminal neurological disease ALS. He struggled during that terrifying illness not only prognosis that he would no longer be able to fly planes, but that he would suffer tremendously and then he would die. He struggled with the mountains of debt needed to pay for the necessities of his schooling and his flight training. He struggled with the requirement to pay off that same debt in order to be able to be free to serve full time in Christian service as a missionary pilot. He struggled with delays and disappointments that kept him from getting oversees using his flying skills to help people. He struggled with his hope and desire to marry once for life and his concern that his drive and determination to serve God oversees could undermine and even undo a marriage, even to the right person. And he struggled with the thought that 9 years had passed by and he was still not at the destination God had placed into his heart. Outrageous dreams tend to be face equally outrageous obstacles, don’t let anyone tell you differently.
But somewhere in the midst of all that Josh Guthrie went through he discovered something that continued to fuel his outrageous dreams even as they faced outrageous challenges. Josh discovered that a passionate love of Jesus Christ sustains a person through the most difficult times of life. Though Josh had been a Christian since he was a child, but as a young man he came to know, love and trust God’s purpose and plan in his life even when the circumstances surrounding his life did not make sense. Like any of us, Josh got frustrated, discouraged, and at times stumbled, but he continued to come back to passages like Isaiah 55:8-11 and Romans 8:28 to find strength to sustain him on his journey...
8 "For my thoughts are not your
thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens
are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts
than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do
not return to it
without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
To love God and to know that he loves you means that you must trust him, even when the things you see don’t make sense to your eyes, your mind or your heart. Josh came to know this, feel this and understand this in the core of his life. He believed he was called according to God’s purpose and that God was working for his good even in the midst of all the struggles he faced. He believed that the purpose that God had called him to would not return empty but would accomplish what God desired it to. Josh believed that God had a placed a purpose and call on his life to be a missionary pilot helping those in desperate physical and spiritual need and so he pushed ahead despite the set backs and the challenges. He pursued, sacrificed and focused on his outrageous dreams of serving God and saw amazing divine interventions in his life.
But even while Josh pursued his outrageous dreams with great gusto everyone who knew him as even casual observers saw something even larger and more outrageous than what Joshua wanted to do with his life. That outrageous thing was Joshua Guthrie and his transparency of what God had done for him how he desired to effect the world around him. God took a young man who once lived only for the moment and molded him into a passionate follower of Jesus Christ willing to risk everything in his present and future. God made a man who loved people and could build people up just by being around him. We saw a person who affirmed the weak, reached out to the stranger, the outcast, the misunderstood, and those bypassed by others. We saw a man who was not afraid to love his friends deeply and make brutally accountable friendships in order to be a better follower of Jesus. We saw a man who could be tender with children and a magnet to them even as he swung them upside down by the feet! We saw a youth pastor disprove convincingly any notion that Christian’s are boring or that teenagers’ couldn’t have great clean exhausting fun. We saw a man who could be tender with doubters and skeptics over a cup of specialty imported tea and yet roughhouse with those who made the mistake of debating him. We saw a man who could make people laugh until it physically hurt and yet stand shoulder to shoulder with people in the darkest times of their lives. And we saw a person who lived his life giving words to others that would affirm their outrageous dreams.
The legacy of Joshua Guthrie’s life is found not in some physical structure he built, but in what he built in the lives and dreams of hundreds of people around him and in the networks he created between many of these people . Josh was real Christian living out his life and his faith in the arena of the real world day and day out. He writes on his facebook page...
Josh loved to talk about his outrageous dreams of being a missionary pilot in the most dangerous places on the planet. But it was his authenticity as a follower of Jesus Christ and his energy and passion to serve God that drew people to him–Christians and non-Christians, men and women, old and young. This authenticity is found in his January 1, 2010 journal entry as began a long awaited phase of his pursuit of missions he wrote....
Joshua’s prayer was not only for himself but that his life might boil and spill heating others with a passion to live beyond the mundane and ordinary to pursue outrageous dreams. Joshua believed that God had put the dreams in his heart so that he could make a difference in the world. But more than that he lived to nurture the outrageous dreams in other people wherever and however he met them. He did this intentionally through his phone calls, e-mails, Face book comments and posts, and through the old fashion use of cards, letters and notes through the mail. But it also happened unintentionally just by being around Josh, even for a brief period of time. This occurred in ways I am only now coming to discover as I did in one instance just a few weeks ago.
The evidence had been carefully tucked into the consol of Joshua’s car. It had survived a 1000 mile drive from Florida by my brother after Joshua’s accident, 5 months of normal everyday use since then, and several interior purges of the day to day trash in the car. The only reason that it had missed being thrown out before was that I never saw it before. But just a couple of weeks ago as I was rummaging through the consol looking for some change I discovered it. It was a folded up piece of paper that had likely been in Joshua’s shirt pocket prior to being tucked away in the consol of the car. The wind caught it and blew it out my hand before I had really understood what it was and it sailed through the air out of the car and fell down on my driveway. I continue looking for the change assuming it was just a piece of junk paper. It was then that the wind caught the paper from the driveway again and I saw that it was a page from a coloring book. As the wind caught it again in a swirl I grabbed the air 2 or 3 times and finally caught the thing. It was in fact not simply a page torn from a coloring book but the gift of a child to Joshua. The one side of the paper was clearly of no interest to the young artist for though it possessed a fierce looking mechanical lion with the word "earthquake", he had not chosen that for his subject matter. It was then I turned over the paper to see the subject that had caught the child’s attention as he leafed through as coloring book for the exact drawing he wanted to create. There it was, a superhero captured in the midst of flight with the words, "Save the World." It was then that I saw the artist’s name boldly written "From Joshua David Richard Perstrope." The identity of the artist was known to me, Joshua Perstrope is a first grader in Hampton, Georgia. His dad is the Pastor of Hampton First Baptist Church were our Joshua visited on Easter 2010 and after service was generously invited home with the Pastor’s family for Easter dinner. The next Sunday Joshua returned to the Perstrope’s church and sat with the Perstrope’s four boys and was once more invited to their house for dinner. Our Joshua felt so at home with the Perstrope family, enjoying a terrific home cook meal and wrestling with the four boys on the lawn. That was all the contact Josh had with little Joshua Perstrope–just a couple of hours over two Sundays. It is possible during those few hours of contact little Josh Perstrope overheard conversations of Joshua’s passion for Jesus, his love of flight, and his desire to see people brought to Jesus. But what little Josh Perstrope observed was a real man who cared about going into all the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and was willing to risk his life to do it.
Jesus says, in Luke 10:21 ...you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children... I wish I knew everything that went through little Josh Perstrope’s mind as he leafed through his coloring book to find the perfect coloring page. But that 1st grader seemed to pick just the right image. Not that our Joshua would have ever been caught in a yellow spandex suit unless it was part of some elaborate prank. But how wonderful that a little boy would think of a superhero in flight with the declaration "Save the World" outlined in bold black letters as the fitting portrait to give to Joshua Guthrie. Every 1st grader knows that the job of a superhero is to perform extraordinary feats to fight evil, help people and ultimately to save the world. But every 1st grader also knows that while superhero’s look on the outside just like ordinary people, underneath and inside they are different. Superheros have been changed by some force, some encounter with a galatic power, or maybe even some by a tragedy that changed them. O they might look like everybody else on the outside, but inside they are different.
I imagine the huge charge that Josh Guthrie got out of the picture. I see him laughing and thanking little Josh Perstrope as he carefully folded the coloring page and put the precious gift into his pocket. Wow, to be associated with a superhero in the eyes of 1st grader, can there be any higher human honor for a follower of Jesus to attain?
Most of us have never been associated with the portrait of a super hero. Instead, we think that we are just ordinary folks trying to make our way in a tough world. We don’t really believe that we have the stuff it takes to make a difference in the world. We are timid and uncertain about stepping forth into the outrageous dreams God has planted or desires to plant into our lives. But its all because we haven’t had that galactic encounter with God himself that changes us on the inside in order to see the world differently. It is that spiritual encounter with God that brings an energetic love for him and trust in his power despite our weaknesses. It is passion for God that fills us with the belief that we can make a difference in the world, even though we may still look like everybody else on the outside.
God delights in creating outrageous dreamers out of normal folks with normal lives and normal struggles enabling them to change the world. He creates outrageous dreamers who stutter with the tongue, like Moses but whose staffs can shatter kingdoms and deliver nations out of slavery. He creates outrageous dreamers like David who start out as a shepherd boys and end up as Kings. He creates outrageous dreamers who have jobs like fisherman, tax collectors, lawyers, and even persecutors but who are remembered across the centuries as apostles and prophets. He creates outrageous dreamers like Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and Josh Guthrie who gave their lives in pursuit of taking the Gospel in the ends of the earth. And he creates outrageous dreamers out of people just like you.
God loves to create outrageous dreamers, but the world isn’t always equally enthusiastic. That is why we need spiritual mentors, healthy Christian relationships, spiritual nurture from a good home church and places like Geneva College. Geneva’s professors, staff, students, friends, opportunities, and even its imperfections helped Joshua to clarify, prepare, and defend his outrageous dreams. Every outrageous dreamer needs a team of supporters and Geneva was very important part of that team. As his family we a grateful that you could look past his outrageous and legendary pranks to see his outrageous love for God and his outrageous dreams of going into all the world to serve him. If your going to follow your outrageous dreams you too need to build a good team of people.
If you don’t have an outrageous dream ask God to plant one in your life. If you already have an outrageous dream remember that a God given dream is not going to fail no matter the obstacles that you face. And finally know this to be true, that the God of outrageous dreams shapes our dreams and their results in ways we really can never imagine. Those who dream outrageously know that what was seeded into their lives at the beginning of a dream often looks quite different from what God chooses to grows it into and later harvest. Indeed, sometimes the outrageous dream is placed in our hearts to get us to take a journey where our real mission is to encourage other outrageous dreamers to press on toward their dreams. Nate Saint and Jim Elliot’s story of pursuing their outrageous dream caused Joshua to press on toward his outrageous dream. May Josh’s pursuit of his dream encourage others to pursue their outrageous dreams. For our outrageous dreams are always part of a much bigger plan God is working to reconcile the world to himself. It is a plan that is impossible for us to see this side of eternity, for indeed God ways are not always our ways. But whether it is the word that goes forth from God’s mouth or the outrageous dreams that God plants in our hearts to take that word into all the world, they will not return void but will accomplish his purpose. One person can make a difference, Josh Guthrie did, so can you. May God make you an outrageous dreamer as we go into all the world.
Coloring by Joshua Perstrope for Joshua Guthrie April 2010