Retro Hippies or Nomadic Travelers

Rachel Ford - Prodigal Project

Rejected and Pursued?

One day, about a decade ago, God drew our attention to a counterculture group of people: traveling hippies from around the world, whom we call "Global Nomadic Youth", people who are not fooled by money or the status quo or most of the comforts of life. They see no meaning in big homes or various brand-new vehicles or six-digit salaries.

What they value is different, it is a spirituality intangible and beyond the shadows of material things. It is enlightenment that is just beyond their grasp, and they believe that if they are present in the right moment, or find the right guru, the right drug, the right music, they just might be able to reach it. This is their deception. The truth is, God is seeking them. He has already come to find them, that they might have life in abundance.

Most cultures and subcultures contain attributes that are contrary to God's way, and yet some that are good. Among the travelers, the openness to spirituality and the dissatisfaction with the fumbling, failing world are signs of something that we have called their "unique ripeness". What if this endless search could be brought to a beautiful conclusion? What if the love for traveling and simplicity of personal belongings could be redeemed as a love for the Nations and a desire to travel to see them reached for Jesus? What if the love for justice in the environmentally and social-justice minded kids could be redeemed as a passion to see the wonderful mercy of God brought to the wounded and oppressed?

God is more interested in this than anyone. He is the One who burned with love for them and had purpose for these wandering spiritual seekers before anyone did, and He has given us a longing and a passion for them. Passion to see them know Him and to see every one of them transformed and set free from their spiritual bondage - walking free as the breeze in His eternal Kingdom.

What it is that we do

Romans 10:14 asks the question, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (NIV) Our mission statement is simply to reach every New-age traveler in the world with the gospel.

Our ways of ministering to the subculture of traveling hippies are as varied as the kids are themselves. Although we are focused specifically on this subculture, their interests and needs are incredibly varied. We have outreach houses among the homeless kids in the scene where we prepare food to bring out with our wagons, have Bible studies, and offer showers in an effort to show God's love.

In India and Israel our outreach may take the form of inviting travelers over for dinner and conversation, going to festivals, and learning international languages. In India some of us study Indian classical music and learn how to play Indian instruments. We become involved in the scene, spending time on the traveler circuit.

On Tour we live in an R.V. and travel from show to show with the kids, following a moving city of cars and vans and buses as they follow bands like the Grateful Dead. Conversing with the kids, making food, and responding in love to the craziness of Tour, we form strong relationships, seeing the same kids night after night.

Over the years, we feel that God has led us (through trial and error at times) in forming some foundational methods of ministry that are radically effective in this subculture. We believe that through incarnation, friendship, community, and simplicity, many New Age travelers will turn wholeheartedly to their true Father. The Holy Spirit has breathed life into our attempts to share with these methods, and it has been evident in the fruit that has been born. We are praying that He will continue to mold us and challenge us in becoming more like Him and reaching the travelers more and more effectively.

I. Incarnation: Living a Life of Understanding

When God captured Cathi Mooney's heart for the kids ten years ago, she left her six-digit job and sold most of her belongings to move into a house in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. She was, perhaps unknowingly, setting the stage for what would become one of the core values of Prodigal Project Jesus Tribe. The truth is contained in what we have taken as our ministry verse. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 says, "We loved you so much that we delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."

Jesus was obviously the ultimate example of incarnation. Taking the position of a servant among people that the Word says were created by Him (nothing was created without Him!) He chose to live a life that would allow Him to understand our weaknesses and sympathize with us. He calls us to do the same with people who need to know His truth.

That is to say: to reach the subculture made up of new age travelers all over the world, we believe that the most important thing is to live our lives on a level that says "we love you, we will live with you and live near you and live like you". Cathi changed her whole lifestyle; started wearing patchworks, grew dreadlocks... she moved in to stay. Many others have as well.

Ten years later, so many of us have come from the global nomadic youth scene that we don't know where it ends and we begin. All we know is that we have a message of hope, of being loved by God and surrendering to His Way, and that in this we have become like the ones we are reaching. We believe that this is crucial in reaching these kids who are on the outside edge of society, simultaneously rejecting and being rejected.

Our desire is to be meaningful and sincere in our attempts to reach the travelers. We seek to be relevant to the culture, to use the language and the illustrations, the styles and appearance that these kids understand. However, this is not incarnation in the fullest.

Thinking that lingo, or style of dress, or even age or location will earn you respect is a mistake. You may walk up to some kids on Haight Street and say "Hey kids, I groundscored this phatty Bible so that I could kick it down to you... there's some way trippy stuff in here, bro," and if they sense insincerity, they will laugh at you. Or be offended. Don't think, either, that being twenty years older than them means you need to act twenty years younger. Our experience has been that these kids look up to older people, seeing them as wiser and more experienced, and since many have not had the parental figures that they may have needed, a lot of kids are looking for affirmation from older wiser people.

The most important thing, when it comes to incarnation is to actually be in their lives. Love, love, love them. Eat, sleep, and think Kids! By spending time with them you will become incarnated into their lifestyle. With incarnation it is so important to be passionate about holiness, about being among the scene but standing apart, being like the kids, but unlike. Our incarnation must be untainted by compromise or aligning ourselves with the enemy and his ways.

II. Friendship: Walking beside people who need God

Jesus was called a friend of sinners, and He was mocked and berated for spending time with less desirable people. To really be the friend of someone that the rest of the world sees as undesirable is a strong statement.

Friendship has been a radically effective way of communicating the love of God to those who don't yet know it. A good example of this is the relationship that we have had over the years with street kids on Haight Street.

The vendors in the area do all they can to get this refuse of society out of their doorways, and at times it has been tense as we have continued to bring food out to the kids that are often despised. The results are seen in the faces of the kids when they see "the Christians" (as they call us) coming with our wagon loaded down with food. They will tell you "the Christians love us." They know where to come for refuge when they need help or are spun out on drugs.

To reach them, be friends, endeavor to meet people, know their names. We have forged deep relationships with different kids over the years that have continued as they move in and out of jail, from country to country, or from gathering to gathering.

As friends, we can't help seeing their needs and extending the overwhelming mercy of the Father to them. This means that we look for ways to serve the travelers, whether with a shower or some food or sometimes a place to stay.

The heart of friendship is different than being friends with a kid on the street merely so you can share the gospel. It is being able to say, "We also shared our very lives with you, because you have become so dear to us." God is delighted when we live and pray and act in ways that show unbelievers (and new believers) that they have become dear to us.

III. Community: Fam-fam

Everywhere in the scene, global nomadic youth are seeking family. Their language displays their longing: they call each other "the family," "brother," "sister", "mama," they speak of "our tribe," "my kids," and "my road-dogs."

They have ideals about community and harmony. Often they become disenchanted with the abuses and corruption that they find in ashrams, on Tour, or at rainbow gatherings, because these things are mere counterfeits of what true adoption and family is.

The desire to find refuge with like-minded people is God inspired, and God desires His people to live as one. Jesus said that people would know us by our overwhelming love for one another. Because this is so, another of our cherished values for reaching the travelers is living in community with one another.

We don't believe that communal living is God's law for the Body of Christ and we see many expressions of community within the Church as valid and fruitful. We of this Jesus Tribe, however, have felt a calling to share housing with one another, and to endeavor to welcome our pre-Jesus friends into homes where the standard is love and sacrifice for one another.

The people of this subculture long for togetherness. So if you seek to reach them, seek to be together. Dig deep, and welcome them into a family like they've always been seeking. Pray for us, that we would be knit together even more as brothers and sisters.

IV. Keep it simple: Just Jesus

We are committed to simplicity in all areas of our lives. Many of the kids that we meet give up their possessions to travel and seek the spirituality that they long for, most often becoming deceived by the complexities and convolution of the New Age movement. The Almighty God, whose name is "I AM", is in contrast, holy and pure. He is straight as an arrow and He is honest with us and relevant to our lives. He understands us and He makes Himself understood.

To follow Him there is no need to wear any kind of robe or do endless self-flagellations or prostrations. This is the truth about God, and so we are committed to remaining simple in our lifestyle and teachings, sharing only the life that He offers, which is eternal and fulfilling and completely free. We believe in the power of the gospel, and we believe that it is powerful when spoken freely so, although we seek to be friends and to be merciful, we don't shrink away from speaking the truth of the gospel wholeheartedly.

Nomadic youth don't want frills or gimmicks or to see us stepping on eggshells around something that everyone can handle: the Truth. The beautiful, life-saving truth will set them free. We don't ask that the kids would simply numb their brains and forget all their questions.

The answer is Jesus so, whether it takes hours or years of conversation about the deception of the New Age or a brief "Jesus loves you," we will never offer anything but Him as the answer. After those questions are mulled over and chewed on there is something like what the disciples saw after the transfiguration: Jesus standing alone.

Discipleship: So what now?

We believe that our relationship with the travelers does not end when they decide to follow Jesus. The life of a new believer is inexpressibly precious, and Jesus has been actively, passionately pursuing them. He wants to continue in knowing them fully, and being known by them.

We have a School of Discipleship, at The Land in Leggett, Ca, where we focus on the very basics of what it means to be a servant and friend of Jesus. We are committed to seeing them grow and be transformed as the new man is strengthened by knowing the Word and spending time seeking God.

It has been called a "fast-forward" time of discipleship, with loads of time spent digging deep in the Word and a pressure cooker type of community that brings people so much farther in their process of sanctification. Discipleship is truly necessary for people who have spent many of their years in bondage to lies. The key is knowing the truth that God makes Himself known through His Word and that He has always loved them.

Pray for the Salvation of the whole Scene

The fruit of these ten years can be seen in the body of people who are now together in sharing the Good News of God with Global Nomadic Youth today. Many of these servants are the fruit of what God has done through years of ministry. Many have gone through the School of Discipleship at the Land. Many were drunks, addicted to drugs, on the streets, completely deceived in the demonic philosophies of the New Age, or on Tour year after year. Many of them have returned to the same scene to share their experiences and cry out for reconciliation between the kids and their Eternal Father. Others have gone elsewhere serving God in many ways. The harvest that God has prepared in this unique, spiritually minded group of people is ripe. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers to bring in the sheaves.

Upcoming Events

View a Ministry

Deliverance Bible Church

Deliverance Bible Church in Hurst, TX.

See all ministries