World Race: 11 Countries, 11 Months
Lindsay Sherburn ’13 recently returned to the United States after the globe-trotting experience of a lifetime. She trekked through the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains in Nepal, taught English in Moldova and Thailand, wrote newsletters and prepared land for farming in Romania, served as a Spanish-English translator in Guatemala, crossed the Pacific Ocean by fishing boat from El Salvador to Nicaragua, ate strange and interesting food and learned about how the love of God knows no borders.
It was all part of World Race, an 11-month, 11-country mission trip where participants are trained and equipped to work with local churches and organizations to meet community needs while living radically for the sake of the Gospel (worldrace.org).
Traveling and learning about other cultures has long been something Sherburn has enjoyed. She got her first taste of international travel as an eighth grader (on a school trip to London, England), and had ample opportunity to expand her cultural horizons during her time at Bethel College.
“I’ve always been interested in other cultures,” Sherburn says. “At Bethel, I met international students and craved that cultural interaction.”
The liberal studies major experienced Ireland as part of a Bethel Task Force trip and visited Lithuania to meet the practicum requirement for her TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) minor.
It was on a flight back from Lithuania that Sherburn met a recent alumnus of World Race who was returning to the United States. The more she learned, the more World Race piqued her interested.
“Missions [as a vocation] was always in the back of my mind,” Sherburn says. “Because World Race involves 11 different countries, I thought maybe God would draw me back to one.”
She started the application process, was accepted in January 2014 and raised $16,000 of support in just six months, a feat accomplished in large part by the generosity of her church.
After a week of training in Atlanta, Ga., she, along with 43 other racers, left for the first country, Nepal, in July 2014. From there, they traveled to India, Thailand, Cambodia, Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana, Romania, Moldova, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
“We did three to three-and-a-half weeks in each country,” Sherburn says. “We’d do ministry with local missionaries or we’d do something called unsung heroes, where we’d look for other ministry connections. The other few days would be spent traveling.”
After training under an alumnus of World Race for the first five months, Sherburn served as a team leader for the second part of the trip. She managed logistics, scheduling, communicating with hosts and organizing travel from one country to the next for her team.
“As a team leader, I had to learn to lead other adults and I had to learn to delegate,” Sherburn says.
Sherburn’s TESOL training at Bethel helped her tremendously on the trip, as she was able to teach English in Thailand, alongside a native woman who was starting an English school. She also taught English in Moldova and translated Spanish to English for her team’s Guatemalan host family that didn’t speak English.
“It hit me very hard to speak and communicate with people in their native tongue,” she says of how translating impacted her.
One of the most memorable experiences for Sherburn happened in Romania, where her mom was able to visit for a week. They worked with missionaries who run a children’s ministry and mainly helped with secretarial work, like writing newsletters.
“In Eastern Europe, you don’t always think about poverty,” Sherburn says. “There were 10 people living in a 1-room shack in the middle of winter … to see that through my mom’s eyes was so powerful.”
After experiencing nearly a year overseas with World Race, Sherburn has returned to the United States changed, knowing that she doesn’t have to be on the mission field to make an impact for Christ.
“Our first host said, ‘You are either missionary or mission field.’ It really struck me that in our daily lives, wherever we are, we get to be a missionary every day,” she says.
Now living in Kentucky, Sherburn hopes to use her TESOL training to teach English to non-native speakers or work with International students. She encourages others interested in missions to check out World Race or other mission opportunities.
“I definitely would recommend it,” Sherburn says. “It was a really valuable experience that has prepared me for what is going to come next.”
Visit Sherburn’s World Race blog to learn more about her experience.