Summer road trips are the dream of many a college student, but one group from Liberty University promises to make their trip the “Road Trip Of A Lifetime.”
The group of seven men left campus on Tuesday night in a Liberty University van for a month of adventure, covering roughly 8,222 miles, 25 states, and eight national parks. Their first destination is the Grand Canyon National Park, a 35-hour drive with no planned stops on the way.
“If you could boil it down to the two most essential ingredients, it is adventure and sharing the Gospel,” said Justin Smith, a 2013 graduate of the School of Communication & Creative Arts. “All of us have that kindred adventurous spirit, and we just want to see God’s creation and glorify Him.”
Though the concept of a post-grad road trip is not exactly reinventing the wheel, this trip is unique in that these adventurers have developed a strong outreach strategy, which includes ministering in some local churches along the way.
The group includes four recent Liberty graduates: Smith, Colin Mukri, Philip Godley, and Thomas Madison; current Liberty student and member of the Campus Band Timothy Riordan; former Liberty student Keller Hopkins II; and Riordan’s brother Jonathan.
The group plans to camp out most nights but will stay in host homes provided by a few of the churches they have connected with across the country. They will make stops in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Washington, Montana, Colorado, and several other places. All of the members are musicians and plan to minister through music, leading worship in some of the churches they visit. Their biggest goal is to build relationships and share God’s love.
As the group formed, they decided early on that the trip would be a chance for them to share their faith with the new people they would meet along the way.
“I want other people to experience Christ through this trip; I want to meet people who don’t know Christ and have them see my enthusiasm through what we are doing,” Godley said.
They hope to inspire people, whether people they meet or followers on social media, to experience God in new ways.
“There is a lot of brokenness out there. We want to inspire others through our friendship. To show that there are real Christians and there are real friends out there,” Mukri said.
The guys also said this trip is an opportunity for personal growth before the responsibilities of family and career set in.
“Whenever you set out on a trip like this, it is like a great unknown, you don’t know what to expect,” Hopkins said. “Whenever you are pushed out of your comfort zone … that is when I have found that I have changed the most. I think all of us just love the Lord, and what we really want to do is grow in the Lord. We get to experience God in a whole new way by experiencing His creation.”
Mukri said it was encouraging to have Liberty support their endeavor.
“We are driving this van around the country thinking that we are promoting Liberty, but we also get to say Liberty has invested in us and served us in fulfilling that dream. They believe in us, in our adventure.”
And in return, they will share their life-changing experiences at Liberty.
“Liberty has changed my life in several ways,” said Timothy Riordan. “It’s provided me with a spiritual foundation I have never had before. There is no place like it. I’ve learned so much about the Bible and I’ve seen it acted out in the lives of these guys, my friends. The atmosphere here, it’s amazing. I won’t be the same because of it. I want others to experience Liberty like I have. Come to this school, it’s amazing, it’s going to change your life.”