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Backpacking has always been a daunting sport for me—carrying a heavy bag, spending long days in the wild, climbing miles of mountain trails—until I discovered LeaderTrek.

An intensive wilderness experience, LeaderTrek was developed by Brent Hoover, a cross-cultural leadership consultant. The adventure trains brothers in Christ to become real men!

Last year, five young co-workers and I joined Brent for a trek in Washington. Our crew traveled five days together in the great outdoors, but the journey began even before the trip.

First, we needed to choose participants. I emphasized the importance in our ministry of training future leaders. While I may have 10 years of leadership ahead, the Christian students have at least 30 years! Brent agreed, and I invited two PhD students, two recent graduates, and another volunteer—all Chinese believers who are part of our ministry.

Next, we spent intentional time preparing for the trip. Together we studied the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge to explore masculinity, life, and purpose. We met by Zoom every other week, starting two months before embarkation. Brent also educated us about backpacking and encouraged physical training.

Then the day of our expedition arrived, and we set out in North Cascades National Park. Together we walked and walked through the grand mountains, enjoying both quiet meditation and lively fellowship. Brent gave us laminated Scripture cards to memorize as we walked. A gradual climb helped us adjust to the altitude, and after two days we found a perfect camping spot.

We learned to care for one another as we took turns carrying supplies and going on excursions for water. The brothers shared clothing with another brother who had not brought enough warm layers.

One brother had a terrible fear of heights. When we had to cross a deep snow-covered area, he was very nervous. One student took his backpack and he followed, carefully stepping in the compacted footsteps of his fellow travelers. At one point, though, he began to slip down a slope, and he was afraid. But God stopped the slip. Later, we wondered, “what did you ask God?” He said he had asked for a miracle, and a miracle is what he experienced!

Devotions at the campsite were a highlight of the journey, as we took turns sharing life stories. Brent led short teaching times, and we discussed the Scriptures we were memorizing. Through these moments, we developed close relationships. How good and beautiful it is for brothers to live in harmony.

Solitude was another highlight. One day we each spent five hours alone for a dedicated time of silence and meditation. We saw God’s care for us and learned to admit our weaknesses and rely on him more.

I came home exhausted, but full of rewards! May the Lord grant me wisdom to integrate this model into my discipleship training—bringing brothers into intimacy and growing in God’s will as real men.