Loving with Abandon
- May 13, 2014
It was 3 a.m. The rain was falling sideways as Craig Masselink (MBI-Spokane '13) pulled himself once again to a standing position on his paddleboard in the middle of Lake Michigan. As he began paddling across the dark, choppy waves, another wave knocked him into the chilly water and flipped his board over. Shivering, he grabbed onto the board and searched for the dim light of the boat ahead of him. The 40-foot boat that carried his parents, some friends, and his security seemed to be drifting away.
"This is insane," he thought that night on July 7, 2013. "We should not be doing this. We should just put the board in the boat and say we tried and gave it a good effort."
Earlier that summer, Craig, 23, his younger brother, Trent, 19, and their childhood friend Ginny Melby, 21, had read a book by Bob Goff called Love Does , which challenged them to come up with a way to "do something out of love for others, loving with abandon," he recalls. The three of them decided to make use of their love for water sports and paddle-board the 80 miles across the lake to raise money for Restore International, a Christian nonprofit organization that fights child trafficking in Uganda.
The weather started out pleasant as the team set out eastward from Milwaukee, Wisc., with the full support of their family, friends, a local surf shop that provided a paddleboard and paddle, a boat owner who lent them the boat, a $1,000 donation for fuel, and others who pledged to give. Craig, Trent, and Ginny took turns paddling in half-hour shifts toward their destination in Norton Shores, Mich., where their families have summer cottages. It's also where they enjoyed attending Moody Week at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference every summer.
"We'd go to children's chapel and hear all about Moody. And that's where I was exposed to missionary aviation," says Craig, who went on to graduate in May 2013 from Moody Bible Institute-Spokane with a bachelor of science degree in missionary aviation technology and an associate in biblical studies.
Craig has great respect for the godly professors who poured into his life as a student, particularly Jim Conrad, director of flight operations at Moody Spokane. "I look up to him and want to be like him," Craig says.
But now, worn down by the darkness and unrelenting waves, Craig just wanted to abort the trip. "It was physically and spiritually exhausting, emotionally draining, just extremely taxing," he recalls. Yet the thought of his paddle-boarding team and the children in Africa motivated him to get up and keep paddling. He drew strength as he hummed the refrain, "Our God is an awesome God," and clung tighter in childlike faith to the Lord.
After 23 hours and 53 minutes, Craig, Trent, and Ginny stepped onto the beach and were greeted by news crews and cheering fans. Their paddle-boarding trip raised nearly $10,000 to help restore trafficked children in Uganda.
Craig returned to MBI-Spokane this fall to pursue his instructor license with hopes of teaching the next generation of missionary pilots coming through Moody Aviation. He praises God for His provision and protection to accomplish the voyage across Lake Michigan.
"We took what was in our sphere of influence, we did something for God, and He blessed it," he says. "God was glorified, and it was an incredible experience."