Celebrating Ken Janke

Our eyes, already engaged in the remarkable surroundings, nearly popped out as we visually absorbed the seafood platter. The silver tray overflowed with succulent lobster, fried hake, mouthwatering crab, steamed clams, and luscious langoustines. It was a feast set for royalty. Tall windows flanked our eatery where the Atlantic and Pacific violently meet at the southmost tip of Africa. As a student of the world’s great explorers, the Cape is one of those locations where worlds collide as courageous and a bit crazy pathfinders cross the invisible border. Ken Janke and I were celebrating 20 years of our crazy planet-wide voyages.

A Founding Father

Ken Janke is one of the founding fathers of Wonder Voyage. He’d spent years pioneering unique mission trips at the college outreach he was pastoring. Unsatisfied with the mission culture of the 90s, Ken was a pioneer in sustainability. He structured his trips in a unique way that matched the team’s gifts with the specific needs of the community they visited.

At the time, we were members of the same church. Ken and I hit it off immediately. I loved his passion and his perspective on faith as a journey. When you are around Ken, you quickly understand he thinks differently than most. He is often years ahead of others. He is a faith pathfinder, assessing ways that no longer work and launching into experimental practices and communities that echo the heart of Jesus.

When Wonder Voyage was launched in 2000, Ken pursued a place in the organization. He fit so well that he was practically a founding board member. 

Culinary Pilgrims

Ken and I have feasted around the world as we’ve co-led pilgrimages. We love to eat and experience wonder through a culture’s culinary delights. In Croatia, we sat on the side of a mountain, watching the sun sink into the Adriatic while enjoying lamb and rice, roasted potatoes, and local spices cooked ispod peke (slow-cooking under a dome-shaped lid, covered in hot ashes).

One of our favorite spots is a small pub on Inisheer, part of Ireland’s Aran Islands, where we savor fish stew and Irish whisky. And in the Bahamas, we sat shoreside, eating fish we caught earlier in the day. These meals often lead to in-depth discussions about the future of Wonder Voyage and our gratitude for being a part of such a unique community.

As you can tell, Ken Janke is one of my favorite people in the world to enjoy a meal with along life’s journey. Here is to 25 years of traveling with my best friend and toasting his one-of-a-kind leadership in Wonder Voyage. 

After a decade working in parish youth ministry Shawn started Wonder Voyage Missions. Over the last 15 years, WVM has led thousands of pilgrims to over forty countries. Shawn is a storyteller and an award winning filmmaker. He is an author who brings the gift of engaging narrative to our journeys. Shawn is dedicated to creating voyages that give people abundant opportunities to encounter God.

1 Comments

  1. Avatar Ken Janke on January 19, 2024 at 9:21 am

    Thank you Shawn, it’s been a wonderful 25 years of adventure, laughter and wonder. I’m grateful for our friendship. I’m looking forward to more meals shared around a table and thoughtful conversations that unlock more of Jesus in us.
    – Ken

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