Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

17 May

It’s one of the most quintessential gifts a graduate can receive: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by a wise Dr. Seuss at his best. I received my own copy at my college graduation party. What a fun book! It’s filled with inspiration, advice, encouragement, hope, wonder and wisdom. Every time I read it I marvel at where I’ve been, new beginnings, possibilities, and how we so often end up places we never anticipated.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

…Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way!

 

As I began my life adventure post-college I was so eager to experience the world – new people, new places and new undertakings were on my agenda. I had big dreams and big ambitions, but even given no limits, I don’t think I could have ever dreamed or predicted that I would be preparing for the journey that is ahead.  And that’s the sweetest part, isn’t it? My life has taken a direction so much bigger than my own, and for that I am so grateful.

So, here it is… the locations I’m so excited about! The places I will go (World Race edition):

Guatemala


Guatemala is a land in indigenous history and natural resources — fertile soil from volcanoes yield excellent coffee! Beside the beautiful landscape, Guatemala needs God’s touch. Gripped by poverty and bound to a spirit of religion, people hunger for the kingdom of God to invade their lives.We’ll work to change the spiritual climate wherever we find ourselves.We’ll have the opportunity to extend God’s kingdom by sharing the lifestyle and living conditions of the people, reaching out to the fringe people of society, working hard, and maybe being a part of a miracle or two.

Nicaragua

This location is always a World Race favorite. Full of wonderfully warm and caring people, participants leave impacted by the new partnerships and friendships. Hopelessness, addictions, destitution, and poverty, however, plague many in Nicaragua. There are orphans who have grown up without knowing the love of a parent and families who survive by scrounging for scraps from the city dump where they call home. In Nicaragua, we’ll have the opportunity to bring God’s love through slum ministry, door-to-door outreach, children’s outreach, and more.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a hot spot for surfing and just enjoying “pura vida” – literally, “pure life”, it’s a concept of a “chill,” relaxed, laidback way of life. The beautiful beaches that line both coasts are the perfect setting. Among the Central American countries, Costa Rica (“Rich Coast”) lives up to its name. While the natural beauty attracts lots of tourists, there are still large pockets of poverty and family brokenness. Because of its relative affluence, Costa Rica also draws in immigrants from neighboring countries, like Nicaragua, who don’t fare much better than they did before. We might help feed their physical and spiritual hunger – and discover other creative ways to give new meaning to the concept of “pura vida.”

Thailand

According to the CIA, the kingdom of Thailand, known as Siam until 1939, is the only country in the region not colonized by Europe. Approximately 600,000 people live with HIV/AIDS in Thailand. With nearly two million people estimated to be forced into prostitution, it has become one of the most popular places for sex tourism. Here we might befriend prostitutes in the city or serve youth, care for orphans, and encourage a remnant of believers in the countryside.
 

Cambodia

Cambodia houses one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat, a Hindu temple and monastery built during the Khmer empire in the 12th century. It later became a Buddhist complex a century later, and today, just over 96% of Cambodia is Buddhist. Almost 30 years ago, 1.5 million Cambodians died at the hands of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Today, Cambodia is a source, transit point, and destination of human trafficking. Unfortunately, the government is struggling to stop it. The people of Cambodia are thirsty for the hope we can bring. 

Challenge: Asia
          ???

Will we forge further inroads with a ministry from the previous months? Or will we blaze a trail for our team and future World Race teams? This will be the opportunity for us to continue flexing our faith muscles as we depend on a few words of advice from the staff and mostly God’s guidance to choose the country and ministry we will serve in. With God, all things are possible and the possibilities are endless.   

Malaysia

Enter a world entrenched in Islam. A people within the thriving metropolis of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysians still live in ignorance of the Good News of Jesus Christ. As we delve into this culture of works-based religion, strong self-discipline, and uncanny faith, we will have the unique opportunity to deliver hope and point the people to their Redeemer.

Uganda

This East African nation was once an autonomous kingdom and British protectorate. During most of the later half of the 20th century, Uganda was under military rule, first under Idi Amin, the subject of the film, The Last King of Scotland. Northern Uganda was also troubled by the Lord’s Resistance Army, which heavily recruited child soldiers. Often referred to as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is diverse in topography and wildlife. We may find ourselves in the north partnering with ministries that are bringing still-needed healing and reconciliation or in the south working with churches to evangelize and disciple the next generation of Kingdom workers.

Kenya

Who hasn’t heard of Kenya in their lifetime? The Kenyan people are colorful, musical, artistic and hungry for the love of Christ. The Maasai bush, the Nairobi metropolis, and the Kibera slums comprise a country diverse yet unified in history. As a new era dawns in Kenya, so does the gospel of truth and faith. By meeting felt needs in the bush and the city, we will help bear lasting fruit with current ministry partnerships (ministries like evangelism, orphan care, and community development), and build foundations of future partnerships.

Tanzania

Roughly a third of the population in Tanzania consider themselves Christian, another third, Muslim, and the final third adhere to indigenous religions. In addition to the religious and demographic diversity, the relatively stable nation also houses Mount Kilimanjaro. Whether we are doing open-air crusades, door-to-door evangelism, or visiting hospitals and orphanages, Tanzania is sure to capture our hearts.

Malawi

Known as “the warm heart of Africa,” Malawi is definitely a place that you visit to ignite yourself with the fire of God. This country has a beautiful landscape and an even more beautiful culture and population. This month, we’ll be helping plant churches, raising up leaders, and infecting the people with the love of God. I’m guessing we won’t want to leave.

Today, the journey ahead seems like such a long road. These places seem so far away, there are so many unknowns. And yet as I pray for each of these countries  – for the people there, the work our team will do, the hearts of believers, and those that we will serve – these countries have already begun to etch themselves into my heart. I cannot wait for these places we will go… and I also can’t wait to share them with you!

Peace & Love
-R

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