I got out. That’s how it felt looking back at my rural hometown after I moved to Texas and then California. It was a weird way of thinking, because growing up I never imagined leaving. But once I was gone, especially after I settled in Southern California, I was able to see clearly the brokenness and hopelessness much of small-town America knows as normal. Like the Clampetts from The Beverly Hillbillies, I had made it to California, the land of movie stars and small-batch coffee shops—and I never wanted to go back.

I wanted to be a church planter and a missionary—only, not to my hometown. I seriously considered everything from church planting in Huntington Beach to rural South Africa or Mongolia.

But a trip home changed everything.

Read more here, on The Gospel Coalition’s blog.