Our hometown, Clarksville, TN, was in the path of totality for the recent solar eclipse. The uniqueness of the event, coupled with the expectation of tens of thousands of visitors, caused schools to close and businesses to take at least the afternoon off. I spent the morning painting inside the house, but was sure to be outside an hour before totality. It was unusual to see the strange lighting patterns and shadows as partial eclipse was occurring. The crickets and cicadas acted as though it was twilight. But at 1:25, when the total eclipse began, is when the world got interesting.

Even as I type this I find it difficult to put in words the 2+ minutes of total eclipse we experienced. As the moon finally stood completely between us and the sun the world instantly darkened. So much so that we could see Venus and several stars. The horizon took on the glow of sunrise/sunset in every direction. It was like the world transformed into a Thomas Kinkade painting. All across our neighborhood the exclamations of “wow!” could be heard from young and old. Some broke into spontaneous applause. The real “star” of the show, however, was the blocked view of the sun. All I can tell you is that I don’t know how to describe it and that I’ve yet to see a photo that truly does the beauty of the eclipse justice. But for a couple of minutes our entire neighborhood, county, and even state stopped for a moment, looked to the heavens, and were amazed at the wonders of our Creator. The heavens were declaring the glory of the Lord.

What does all this have to do with CSI and missions? Just this: like seeing a total eclipse, if you’ve ever been on a missions trip you know how difficult it is to put into words exactly what happened. A missions trip can be a life-changing, transformational experience. We are amazed at what God shows us while on the field. We go home and try to tell someone about what happened…….and words seem to fail us. On many occasions I’ve heard someone say “well, I guess you just had to be there”. And, in many ways, I feel that is the most difficult aspect of my job as Executive Director. How do I adequately communicate what God does on our CSI trips?

So, you may have heard a lot of people talking about their mission trip and wonder what the big deal was. Well, sometimes all I can do is say what Philip said in John 1:46: “Come and see.” Fly to Jamaica or Haiti, drive to Kentucky, but come see what God is doing. Then, you will understand.

Oh, concerning the solar eclipse, the next total eclipse in the US is scheduled to occur on April 8, 2024. Muncie, IN is set to be in the path of totality. Please consider this your invitation to come and watch the eclipse from CSI headquarters. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

The accompanying photo was taken by Jeff Halliburton from his back porch in Pleasant View, TN.