It’s hard to know how to feel about a program like Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year. Just when you’re ready to right it off as a piece of juvenile humor, it doubles back to show you a more serious side of life.
The ‘gap year’ is fast becoming a tradition for many Australians. When high school or university ends, the plan is to take a year off to experience life outside the classroom. At best, this can involve an exploration of another culture or even a ministry (such as ‘Year 13’ offered by the Christian organization Youthworks). More likely, though, it’s twelve months of relaxation and self-indulgence. Australian comedians Hamish Blake and Andy Lee missed out on having a gap year themselves, so exploring the idea became the basis for their first television series with the Nine Network. And at first glance it seems as though they also settled for the ‘self-indulgence’ option.
This is the third season of Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year, a series of international jaunts that has so far taken them to New York and Europe, and now lands them on the continent of Asia. The current series sees them running amok at a Thai rocket festival, being served beer by monkeys in Japan and attempting to run on water in a Chinese sewage pond. In between there are Hamish vs. Andy challenges and some familiar segments like ‘Ultimate Wingman’ where Hamish tries to assist single Andy to get a girlfriend with extravagant stunts like organizing a fake Tokyo album launch. Funny, but ultimately bubblegum for the mind, right? That’s what I thought too, but…
Tune into Hamish and Andy’s trip to Cambodia and you’ll see another side of the series entirely. The pair visit a former Cambodian child soldier who, as an adult, is now devoting his life to removing some of the millions of anti-personnel mines planted during the war. There are the usual gaffs but the segment is handled remarkably maturely as Hamish and Andy investigate the motivations of him and other volunteers who are involved in what is so obviously a life-threatening task. This and other segments end up highlighting one of the spiritual benefits of travel.
I’ve had good friends who’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars overseas, some coming back wiser for the experience, others just poorer. What tends to be the difference? The motivation for going. If we just go for ‘the experience’ then we’re likely to achieve little more than a dent in the bank balance – destinations alone don’t broaden the mind. Jesus’ provincial disciples did a bit of tourism in Jerusalem when they accompanied him there, and were quick to point out, ‘… what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!’ But Jesus’ perspective was radically different:
“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
– and then he went on to talk to them about God’s coming Kingdom. He could see something lovely, even emotionally moving, when He looked at Jerusalem. But Jesus looked at the world through God’s eyes. He allowed God’s word to give the context to what He saw. It’s that sort of vision that can see the value in a break building homes in Nepal, or being part of a short-term mission. It can see service as something to learn from, rather than receive. Of course, you have to go looking though – it has to be part of your gap year plan – because people who go looking for nothing in particular, generally find it.
Release Date: Mondays, 8:00 PM