WASHINGTON (BP) – In addition to reading and studying Scripture, it can be powerful to experience the Bible’s real-world impact.
Inspire Experiences offers Christian groups experiential tours based around the biblical connections found in Washington, D.C.
The organization explores the various monuments and museums around the nation’s capital while exploring the impact of the Bible and faith upon the nation’s history.
Michael McAfee, Inspire’s president and co-founder, told Baptist Press the goal of Inspire is to give an experience that will help people holistically engage the truth of Scripture.
“We exist to inspire a generation to be biblically literate, historically informed and spiritually engaged,” McAfee said.
Inspire began test piloting their tours in late 2019, and officially launched its ministry in February 2020 – just before it had to shut down.
After making it through the COVID-19 pandemic, McAfee said the demand for the various experiences they offer is now sometimes more than they can keep up with. Various groups that come can include anything from school or church groups, to couples simply wanting to have a special travel experience.
Some of the sites explored within the tour options include the Jefferson Memorial and other historical monuments, the National Museum of African American History & Culture and the main attraction of the Museum of the Bible.
McAfee formerly worked for the Museum of the Bible, even before it opened. He said the job helped him realize the incredible discipleship opportunity the city had to offer.
“We realized that throughout Washington, D.C., there are so many biblical ties and connections that make a trip to D.C. a phenomenal discipleship experience,” McAfee said.
“If people walk away with one thing from our trip, we want them to know the whole Bible is a story that points to Jesus and that they have a starting point for engaging with the Scriptures when they go home.
“Ultimately, it’s not a win for us if we create a bunch of Pharisees that know a lot of things about the Bible but are not engaged in their church and living it out by making disciples in their own personal life.”
Living out discipleship is something McAfee wants to be a part of his own life.
Although frequently in Washington for his work with Inspire, McAfee is based in Oklahoma City where he serves as a teaching pastor at Council Road Baptist Church.
Council Road is the same church where McAfee meet his wife, Lauren, when they were 7 years old.
He now jokes that his whole life was figured out at that age because that is the same year he became a Christian, was baptized and determined he wanted to be a preacher when he grew up.
“I couldn’t imagine if we weren’t engaged with a local church regularly,” McAfee said.
“Our content and what we produce would be far less relevant, impactful or helpful. In our lives we’re trying to model discipleship and living in biblical community.”
In addition to local church work, the McAfees are involved with several other ministries together.
The two co-wrote a book designed to reach those in the Gen Z and Millennial generations who are disillusioned or disinterested in the Bible titled “Not What You Think.”
Lauren is also a pro-life advocate and is a leader with the recently established Stand for Life organization. The two have even lived out a form of pro-life advocacy in their own family through adoption, but it has not been an easy road.
The couple adopted their 4-year-old daughter Zion in 2019, and soon discovered a cancerous tumor on her liver. The cancer was diagnosed as Stage 1 and she is currently in remission, but the trials were not over.
Since adopting Zion, the McAfees have experienced two failed adoptions, including one that was more than a year in process. Through those difficulties, the couple learned more about God’s loving plan in a tangible way.
“We learned that God’s painful providences are for the purposes of intimacy,” McAfee said. “God is ultimately using painful situations to draw us closer to Him. As much as we want to control things ourselves, we can trust Him with their lives.
“When you surrender and realize things happen to lead us to intimacy with God, then you start to kind of come out of the valley. You discover the intimacy you get with God is greater than the expectation of what you thought life was going to be better.”
The couple is currently in the process of adopting another daughter and producing a book about what they learned throughout the whole experience.
McAfee said he hopes Inspire creates experiences that will help Christians learn the Gospel and biblical truth in a way that will help them in life.
“Being a Southern Baptist preacher, I am fully committed to the priority of preaching and the uniqueness of sermons and more generally in the importance of didactic teaching,” McAfee said.
“I think it is also critical to have experiential ministry to come alongside of that to complement it. I think we see Jesus doing that in that He didn’t just come to the disciples to teach them, but He lived life with them.
“There is a reason you remember so much of the experiences you have on vacation is that you’re not doing the same thing you always do. Why not do something like that that’s also a faith-deepening experience? Let’s associate this kind of memories with learning to read the Scripture and learning the Gospel and its implications.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer.