In less than two weeks, I’ll be halfway across the world with only a backpack full of belongings. I’ll be on a yearlong mission trip that will take me to three continents and 12 countries.
That’s hard to imagine as I sit in my air-conditioned office in Washington, D.C., clad in a suit and tie. The thought of this journey, aptly named “The World Race,” is as baffling as it is exciting for me, but my reasons for taking up this challenge are clear.
Through the mobilizing efforts of the ministry Adventures in Missions, a team of 22 other volunteers and I will be traveling through a region of the world known as the 10/40 Window—a rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator.
This area contains some of the most remote, unreached groups of people on Earth. My team will have opportunities to serve them along our expedition’s route, which will take us from North Africa, along the Mediterranean, and on into Central Asia and beyond.
Many of these places are ravaged by war, terrorism, and sex trafficking. Or they suffer under oppressive regimes and economic poverty that often accompanies tyranny.
The situations in some of these nations are so dire that, to protect the people and the ministries we’ll be serving, I cannot post the list of countries we will visit in this article. If ever there were people who needed equal measures of practical aid and spiritual hope, they can be found in the 10/40 Window.
After over a year of internships and work experience with conservative think tanks in our nation’s capital, I have no lack of job options to pursue—no career path in the world of policy, journalism, or digital media that my network could not help me begin.
So why am I leaving? Why, for the next year, am I giving up a life of comforts and opportunities so I can go serve people I have never met in countries I have never seen—where I may be in harm’s way?
God has provided me with an opportunity to help make a difference in a personal and powerful way in the lives of people who have never had the opportunities my country has offered to me or experienced the blessings my God has given me. That’s an offer that is too good to refuse.
As a recent college graduate in my early 20s, I am in the perfect stage of life to adventure off the beaten path and travel the world. As an Eagle Scout, former mountain ranger, and experienced traveler, I know that I have enough adaptability and skills to serve well as a member of my team.
As a conservative, I know that spiritual freedom and Judeo-Christian principles are integral to the foundation of America’s democratic society. It is a kind of political freedom that the people of the 10/40 Window haven’t known, but hopefully will have one day if we can help foster those ideas.
As a follower of Christ, it is my duty and my desire to bring relief and a message of hope and redemption to those in need, just as hope and redemption were offered to me in my lowest moments.
When I return from this mission trip—whether back to D.C. to serve my country in the field of policy or to prepare for yet another adventure in ministry—the experiences I gain will change me for the better and equip me for the next chapter of service.
Until then, my path for the next year is clear.
I am embarking on an adventure—one that will be physically challenging and at times heart-wrenching, but that is about something more valuable than thrill-seeking. The World Race is about saying “yes” to the call to bring aid and the hope of spiritual freedom to those who hunger for it.
To that I say, “Here I am. Send me.”
If you would like to learn more about the World Race and keep updated with stories from my travels over the next year, or if you would like to help me reach my fundraising goal of $17,561, please visit my World Race blog.
Joshua Gill, a graduate of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation, filled in as managing editor of Heritage.org from Jan. 13 to March 25.