Imagine having to walk two miles in sweltering heat that’s pushing 120 degrees just to get water for the day. Imagine being taken from your home and your family and being sold into sexual slavery, or handed a gun at age 12 and told you’re now part of a resistance. Imagine that you aren’t free to practice your own religion for fear that you’ll be tortured or killed for it. This is the reality of life in many places around the world. It has been reported by UNICEF that each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the commercial sex trade and that worldwide 27 million men, women and children are held as slaves. These are sad but true facts.
There is hope though because out of this darkness comes thousands of groups who are making a difference. One such group is The World Race, and I am fortunate and blessed to be able to be a part of this group beginning in September.
The World Race is a Christian-based mission trip to 11 countries in 11 months. Over the course of the next year I’ll be working in orphanages, teaching English, helping women and children who have been trapped in slavery, building schools, wells and churches, and sharing God’s love to the world.
I am so ridiculously excited about embarking on this amazing adventure! It’s something I’d never thought would ever happen to me. I just recently graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Writing. As my semester and college career drew to a close I started to feel pretty silly. What could I ever do with a writing degree? I also discovered that writers are paid peanuts for their work (no, seriously, peanuts). It was about half way through my final semester as I sat in a dark corner of my room and wallowed in self pity that The World Race was dropped in my lap. It was an organization I had heard about some years ago but had completely forgotten about until God took it and beat me on the head with it. I applied the next day and the rest, as they say, is history.
Another blessing is that I get to spend my summer in Jamaica working as a camp counselor and worship leader for Next Step Ministries. We’ll be working with teens to build a recovery house for locals who are struggling with addiction. As soon as I opened up my life and heart to God and said, “Here I am, show me the way,” then God took my life and has made it into the adventure I’ve always craved.
Part of the process before I embark is to raise $15,500 which will cover my expenses for the entire 11 months abroad, as well as travel. Anything left over will be given directly to the communities.
As I journey around the world I will be updating my personal blog once a week and sending in updates to The Coope about once a month so that all of you can keep up with my adventures and all the weird and crazy things that might happen.
Doing something as crazy as this has always been a dream of mine, but that’s all I ever thought it would be – a dream. Fear, worry, and a myriad of other circumstances kept me from pursuing my dream until I decided that it was time to pursue the life God wants for me with reckless abandon. And I couldn’t be happier and more content. Sure, raising the money and all the logistical nightmares of preparing to be out of the United States for a year can be hard, but I honestly love every minute of it. I’m finally pursuing what I was meant to do and one of the best parts is that because of my love of writing I get to share it with all of you.