Don’t Be A Religious Tourist

There are a handful of people we befriend who redirect the trajectory of our lives. Mike Yengo was one of those rare change agents for me.

Mike had a supernatural vision of Jesus while he was high. Jesus laid hands on him and told him he was free from his addictions, but He also told Mike that his freedom was not without a price. In this vision, he was commissioned by Christ to take His message of love and hope to tough places and hard people.

Mike became a pilgrimage genius. He raised funds, trained teams, and independently led trips to more than thirty nations. He always looked for ways to meet the practical needs of the places he traveled.

At twenty-two, I had not traveled outside of the United States. I had buried my longing for foreign exploration under the responsibility of marriage, fatherhood, and youth ministry. Mike helped unbury those longings.

Not too long after meeting him, I found myself in the middle of a daring adventure to Guatemala with Mike leading the charge.

My team of 25 leaders and teens served, learned, explored, heard stories, worshipped, and lived like locals. We were thrilled to find the presence of God in a new way, with new eyes and open hearts.

I had come to Guatemala seeking adventures. I had discovered a world filled with masterpieces, works of wonder, and I knew this leap into adventure, had altered the trajectory of my life.  On top of a mountain, as I sat and prayed, watching the buzz of Totonicipan beneath me, I began to realize, adventures were seeking me.

I was a pilgrim for life.

Mike passed away shortly before I started Wonder Voyage. Looking back, I realize that the greatest thing Mike gave me and our team was a thorough preparation for our voyage. He spent several weeks prior to our adventure, meeting with our youth and sharing the secrets of pilgrimage travel. Mike’s training made all the difference in how we experienced Guatemala and the changed hearts that we brought back home.

Over the last thirty years, I watched thousands on their pilgrimages and mission voyages. I know, within an hour of meeting a group, which team has been properly trained and those who have not. I will say, with authority, that proper preparation separates pilgrims from religious tourists.

I have always been frustrated at the lack of materials available for teams to help prepare them for their voyages. So, when COVID-19 shut us down in 2020, we gathered a team of experts in pilgrimages and mission trips to help us create a training program for teams looking for great source material to prepare their teams traveling across the U.S. and the world. We’ve already given this curriculum to our teams going out on 2022 voyages. In the fall, we will give it to anyone who wants it for free.

Email Shawn for more information.



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.

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