The Birth of the Encounter Moment

Wonder Voyage specializes in removing people from their routine and inviting them into quiet places where they can connect with God. Our pilgrims unplug from distractions, travel to a unique location, and become immersed in the culture through practices like storytelling, journaling and exploring. When our mind is uncluttered like this, we are more open to the Creator, the world around us, and other people.  Our guides are artists who create the opportunity for moments of wonder that we call Encounters.

Sometimes planned and sometimes spontaneous, Encounters illustrate that God is present and active in our lives. Often, these moments become lifelong transformational changes in the lives of the people who enter into the story.

The idea of the Encounter moment actually developed on Wonder Voyage’s maiden journey. When the initial team from Dallas First Assembly arrived in southeast Ireland, Shawn was a bit nervous. He wanted to kickstart the trip with a unique experience.

Shawn knew the entrance to the old Mount Elliot train tunnel was hidden near the team housing. The bare limestone passageway ran a mile underground ending at a red bridge over the River Barrow. The tunnel had not been used since 1963, and the tracks were long ago stripped away. Shawn explained that the team would walk the tunnel, using sticks they held in their hands for guidance, in absolute darkness and complete silence.

Three minutes into the hike, the afternoon sunlight disappeared. Half a mile into the darkness, the majority of the group was unnerved, and it was there that Shawn spoke about the power of unhindered worship and the gift of silence. He asked what if their songs of praise would be like without any distractions. What if no one could see you, and you could truly be free to worship the Creator unhindered?

Several teens started to sing. Voices bounced off the walls and echoed in angelic tones.  For the next twenty minutes, the singing and praying continued unbroken. As the time of worship ended, flashlights burst on and showed them the way to the Barrow Bridge. The group remained hushed, sheltered in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Michael Fleming, the pastor of the group (and current Wonder Voyage Board member) whispered in Shawn’s ear, “That is what I call a genuine encounter with God.” That conversation convinced Shawn that moments like this should be commonplace on all our journeys.  Although we cannot orchestrate God’s presence, we can invite Him to meet us any way He pleases. If Wonder Voyage provides the opportunity, God might just show up.

Have you had an Encounter moment?

Moments like this are the foundation of what makes Wonder Voyage unique. We collect these stories on the blog to encourage others along their journey. If you have had an Encounter during a Wonder Voyage pilgrimage, please share your story here. If you are uncomfortable writing your story, we have an editor on staff who can help you every step of the way.