1. THIS IS "HAVE FAITH—WILL CAMP!" FRIDAY JULY THE 13TH‚ 1979—OUR LUCKY DAY! PTL! Skylab has already landed & it missed us!—TTL! It landed in the Indian Ocean & some parts of it on the Australian desert, & so far we haven't heard that it hurt anybody or anything, TTL! However, I think the threat of Skylab falling on our tails was good for us all & the whole world, to remind us all how close the end can be & how near are the judgments of God!
2. —AND, EXCEPT FOR THE MERCY OF GOD, it could have fallen on something or someone important & caused a lot of trouble! And one of these days it will—or the missiles will—& the world is going to be pretty much upset & in a mess—or at least maybe your part of the world—& you may have to flee to your refuge, if you have one prepared—God willing—or just flee without a refuge—in which case as I have always recommended:
3. IT WOULD CERTAINLY PAY YOU TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT CAMPING!—and you don't have to wait until the sky falls on your tail or there is some national or international disaster to force you to camp, but lots of you are finding out already that camping is not only a pleasure & can be a vacation & a change of scenery, but can be extremely useful nowadays to those of you who have families with several children—which is nearly all of us!
4. YOU CAN STAY ON THE ROAD FOR THE LORD as I did with my little family of four when they were small, & you can move frequently due to limited visas or persecution or worn-out fields or a yen for new horizons, or the simple & sufficient motive to want to "go into all the world & preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mk.16:15)—with your family—kids & all!
5. SOME OF YOU HAVE ALREADY FOUND OUT THIS IS A MOST ECONOMICAL WAY TO LIVE & TO TRAVEL with a family—as we did with my children for many years. In fact, all of them spent most of their childhood days in campers or trailers or tents or on the road, & I have already outlined some of that past history to you in previous Letters on this subject such as:
6. "HAVE FAITH—WILL TRAVEL", which, of course‚ is an old Letter & quite lengthy & detailed & technical, so you probably never even bothered to read it, or never realised how important it was & how valuable its information would be to your own existence, safety & survival! (See No.150.)
7. BECAUSE CAMPING, TRAILERING OR CARAVANING IS EXISTING—IT'S SURVIVAL! It's more or less bare survival, & you can manage to survive & to exist without all the frills & luxuries of so-called modern civilised life, you live with only the absolute necessities‚ & you do only the absolutely necessary things. It's "Back to Nature," back to the woods‚ back to the land‚ back to the fields & back to the way man lived for thousands of years before all of these modern luxuries were invented, the way that most people lived until only a couple hundred years ago, & in fact, the way much of the primitive 3rd World still lives!—Living on the land & off the land & with the land‚ like the American Indians, Gypsies, nomads‚ savages & natives of many lands. The Scripture says:
8. "HAVING FOOD & CLOTHING, THEREWITH BE CONTENT" (1Tim.6:8), & the Lord doesn't necessarily even promise the third item which man calls one of the necessities of life: shelter!—Because you really only need two things to actually survive, & that's food & clothing! You'll have to include water under that food, because you'll find when camping it's extremely important!
9. YOU CAN ACTUALLY LIVE & SURVIVE WITHOUT SHELTER in many cases. But the Lord is good to most of us & He does usually provide us with adequate shelter, & oftentimes very comfortable & convenient shelter‚ TTL! But you will find the absolute minimum of shelter in camping or caravaning—a tent of course being just about the absolute minimum, unless you want to live in a sleeping bag under a tree! A tent, camper or caravan—or trailer‚ as caravans are known in the States—are the next barest minimums of shelter.
10. THE AVERAGE TRAILER HAS ALL THE COMFORTS & CONVENIENCES OF HOME, but in a very, very small space. But in tenting, you really live very close to nature, with only a thin sheet of canvas between you & the rest of the world, & only with the absolute minimum of vital necessities, such as your tent for shelter from both cold & sun & rain & wind—or maybe even snow—as well as shelter from the view of others‚ a little privacy. So that you can keep warm when it's cold & hopefully manage to get a little sleep.
11. YOU ALSO NEED NOT ONLY SOMETHING TO SLEEP IN, BUT ALSO SOMETHING TO SLEEP ON, even in tent-camping. Some of you have managed to get by with nothing but a sleeping bag, but some of you have already found out that it can be pretty uncomfortable when it rains, if you are outdoors. So you need a little something to put over your heads to keep the rain off—& over your sleeping bag, to keep from getting wet—& under your sleeping bag, to keep from getting soaked from beneath!
12. BECAUSE WHEN CAMPING OUT ON THE BARE GROUND‚ no matter how much shelter you have over you, if you don't have something under you, you're going to find out that the water comes in from all directions! It runs along the surface of the ground, it soaks into the ground‚ & soon the ground you are sleeping on is soaking wet, & so is your sleeping bag! So, someone who had been through that experience very thoughtfully invented the inflatable rubber mattress—or the air mattress, as it is called—which at least puts a little bit of space & protection between you & the cold‚ bare, wet ground, as well as being a bit more comfortable than the hard surface.
13. SO I'D SAY A SLEEPING BAG & AN AIR MATTRESS & SOME KIND OF A SHELTER, a piece of canvas, tent, awning or whatnot, are almost the absolute bare necessities for shelter & fairly comfortable sleeping. Even the Eskimos build small domed igloos of ice & snow & keep warm & dry in them!
14. OF COURSE‚ YOU CAN FLING YOUR AIR MATTRESS & SLEEPING BAG DOWN ALMOST ANYWHERE, maybe under a tree or on the beach, or inside of public buildings or railroad stations or bus stations or under some kind of already-made shelter or in derelict houses, vacant buildings & whatnot. But in that case‚ you always stand the chance of being chased out by the authorities or arrested as a vagrant, in which case, you will have a very secure sheltered place to spend the night—with bars on the windows, & maybe a fine to pay besides!
15. SO EVEN A VERY MODEST AMOUNT OF LEGITIMATE CAMPING EQUIPMENT, which identifies you as a legitimate, genuine, equipped camper, with a legitimate place to camp, such as a normal camp ground, commercial or public or governmentally provided, is usually a little bit more secure for campers than just throwing your sleeping bag down anywhere.—For one thing, you have a little more protection from other hazards & dangers, which not only include the weather or the authorities‚ but not all people are always friendly to campers, & there can be robbers & muggers & thieves!
16. WHEREAS, CAMPING TOGETHER IN A PLACE WHERE THERE ARE OTHER CAMPERS, you have a certain amount of mutual defense & protection, & you're not isolated & alone where somebody can mug & rob you easily. We've had quite a few of our Family lose your billfolds, passports, money & valuables while sleeping out under the trees & on the grass in some lovely parks, even with other young people all around, because you were not cautious & really prayerful about:
17. WHERE TO HIDE YOUR VALUABLES! Well, the best place of course is either a money belt or under your pillow—or better yet, in your pillow! It's a common practice with some sleeping-bag campers to think that putting your valuables inside the foot of your sleeping bag is a safe place to put things at night‚ but there are quite a few other campers who know that, so it's a favourite trick of thieves to slit open the bottom of your sleeping bag with a razor while you are sleeping & slip out & slip off with all your valuables!—This has happened to a number of our Family while so sleeping, including our dear Faithy!
18. SO IT'S BETTER TO USE A MONEY BELT—if you can—if you have any money or valuables, which is a hollow leather belt with a zipper inside where you can stuff quite a few things, including your money. You'd have to fold your passport in order to get it in there, which might not be very good, but if you have something that's well wrapped, or you have a bag or purse or pouch that you can keep securely under your head & pillow while sleeping, you will usually notice it if somebody tries to pull it out from under your head. But of course, the money belt is the best.
19. THERE ARE POUCHES, TOO, WHICH CAN BE ATTACHED TO YOUR BELT, which are fairly secure, & there are purses which can be worn around your neck or even on a girl's belt‚ which are fairly secure. For not all campers, sad to say, are always well-meaning & honest, & some of them may be after your money or your passport or your valuables!
20. PASSPORTS ARE ALMOST THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU CAN CARRY, & there's a greater black market for passports now than ever before, & they are more valuable than money! So, hang on to your passport!—Or you may find yourself winding up at the nearest Embassy or consulate or Legation trying to get yourself a new one, which is not always that easy, especially if you say you lost yours, which quite a few people have really done, & quite a few people have not done, but actually sold theirs & then simply gone & applied for a new one, saying that they only lost it! So most governments are getting pretty cagey about issuing new ones to people who claim they have lost their passport. A passport is one of your most valuable possessions‚ because it is literally your passport to freedom from your country—whatever it may be—to "go into all the world to preach the Gospel to every creature".
21. THAT'S ONE PROBLEM THE EARLY CHRISTIANS DIDN'T HAVE, because "all the World" in their day was the Roman Empire‚ & most of them were citizens of that Empire & could travel freely from one country to another without a passport! In fact, they were even all speaking the same language, either Greek or Roman or both, as well as Hebrew & Aramaic. So things have gotten somewhat more complicated & difficult for the Christian traveller nowadays, & it's not quite as easy as it used to be.
22. HOWEVER, IN SOME WAYS IT CAN BE EASIER TODAY, considering all the modern inventions which have been devised to help the modern camper. It appears that about all the Apostle Paul & some of those were able to carry with them was their staff & their robe, very little clothing‚ & a few scrolls & papers, which is probably the heaviest thing they had to carry. Watch out about books!—They're about the heaviest things you can carry.—Store them & send for them later if you need them.
23. IF THE EARLY APOSTLES CARRIED A LITTLE LUNCH, it certainly must not have lasted very long, so they had to depend pretty much on the local hospitality as they went for their food & shelter—which isn't too bad an idea for a traveller‚ especially a Christian preaching the Gospel, a missionary. There are quite a few people who are willing to open their homes for you, as the Scripture says in Mt.10:9-15:
24. WHEN YOU GO INTO A TOWN, ENQUIRE IN IT WHO IS WORTHY, & if they receive you there, there abide until you leave, & leave your blessing there. So, that seems to have been the most common form of travel in the days of the Early church, & has been used by many of our own Family in many circumstances for many years now. But sometimes, in some cities, it is a little bit difficult to find anybody who is worthy by being willing to receive you.
25. SO IT IS WELL TO BE PREPARED TO RECEIVE YOURSELVES WITH YOUR OWN CAMPING EQUIPMENT & not be utterly dependent upon others, particularly strangers, especially inhospitable strangers in areas where they are not all that friendly. So about the barest minimum, a sleeping bag with an air mattress & some kind of shelter-half or canvas tarp or tent over your head, is one of the surest ways to make sure you have someplace to lay your head at night, which the Scripture says is more than the Lord & the Apostles had a good deal of the time!
26. JESUS SAID‚ "THE FOXES HAVE THEIR HOLES & THE FOWLS OF THE AIR HAVE THEIR NESTS, BUT THE SON OF MAN HATH NOWHERE TO LAY HIS HEAD" (Mt.8:20) meaning He had no place of His own, no home of His own. Apparently He didn't even have a tent or a trailer, but was completely dependent upon the hospitality of others, frequently women‚ for a place to stay & a place to sleep, & probably one of them to sleep with, & something to eat. But God provided & He usually seemed to have some friendly sisters who were willing to take Him in along with his motley crew of bare-footed, be–sandled, be-robed, hippie-looking, long-haired disciples!
27. BUT YOU MAY NOT ALWAYS BE THAT BLESSED & that familiar with an area or that popular, as Jesus & His disciples were, so you may not always find it that easy to find a place to live. In which case, it is well for you to have provided yourself with something—particularly if you have a wife & children—in which to shelter your own little family, & something whereon to sleep, & wherein to keep warm & dry. The minimum is sleeping bags, air mattress & a tent‚ & the maximum is a camper or trailer.
28. SLEEPING BAGS, AIR MATTRESSES & A BIT OF CANVAS ARE NOT TOO EXPENSIVE, but trailers, & particularly campers—the motorised camper—can be quite expensive. So, a very happy medium between the two is a tent: A good stout tent that will not collapse with the first rain, or blow down with the first wind!—Plus a good knowledge of how to pitch it & tie it down securely so that it will stay put & not fall over every time you turn over on your cot or sleeping mattress, or with the first little wind or rain that comes along, or when one of the kids bumps into a pole!