Featured Racer: Kelly Gauthier
Kelly Gauthier, a Racer from the July 2011 X squad, covered a lot of ground within the U.S. before setting off on the World Race. She's currently in Nakuru, Kenya, which is four hours away from Nairobi. Her team is working with the Bliss Women and Children Project, most of their time spent with children.
They're about to spend the coming days holding three-day open-air gatherings, commonly referred to as "crusades." A revival over the course of twelve days will follow. That's life for Kelly, who's almost halfway through the Race; what was life like before?
She studied at the American Musical & Dramatic Academy in New York. While living in Manhattan (the Upper West Side), Kelly gained exposure and experience in musical theatre - within and outside the classroom.
However, "I was not living a godly lifestyle," Kelly admitted. Then because she wanted to try something different, she went west, to Los Angeles. Life in the City of Angels proved "harder," she said. "There wasn't as much work" in theatre.
But she discovered a new line of work that she enjoyed - caring for adults with disabilities. If you're looking for a holistic health practitioner, know that Kelly studied at the Global College of Natural Medicine, too. And going into midwifery is a possibility after the World Race, she said.
Now, one might wonder, how did the World Race show up on her radar, with her vast array of interests and passions?
Via Google, naturally.
And the magic words? "Missions trips to Romania".
"I've always wanted to go," she said; the World Race was the first or second link listed in the search results.
"No way am I gonna do this," Kelly had thought, as she browsed the World Race homepage. "It's too long… too expensive." She bookmarked the blogs and watched the videos anyway.
That was in October 2009. In November 2010, missionaries to Africa - a husband and wife - spoke at her church in her hometown. They shared how their first year was very hard, and had wanted to give up; they didn't and they've been serving for thirty years.
Kelly's attitude changed. "It's not gonna hurt to apply," she had thought. "I'll do anything once." Like many, she didn't think she would actually be accepted.
Fundraising was difficult, primarily because it was unfamiliar to her. Kelly's church is part of a denomination that's very active in missions - complete with its own missions board. Missionaries mobilized by the denomination raise little funds, if any. Despite not having much of a platform, Kelly says she's confident all the support will be raised before the end of the Race.
As a woman of many passions, music and theatre among the top, was it hard for her to put them on hold? Initially, Kelly said, her outlook was, "I can give a year." On the field, it's proving a bit more challenging.
At home, "I sing all the time," said Kelly, but it's harder to do within community, being surrounded by others who may not appreciate hearing constant singing. While her team encourages and challenges her to lead worship, she points out that being a musician and a worship leader are not the same thing; the former doesn't translate to the latter.
"I don't deal well with changes," admitted Kelly. All the various experiences of her life were things she was able to control. Adjusting from independence to not interdependence and not always knowing what ministry will look like has been another challenge for her.
When teams changed, it was hard for Kelly. "I've lived in community before," she said. But community living on the Race is different: "you don't get to choose," Kelly pointed out. You're around each other 24/7, she said.
Then, there's the end of the Race; she anticipates the challenge of re-entry. It seems "nobody's gonna understand."
Especially after what she's seen and experienced. Kelly attended a church where spiritual gifts - namely, healing, prophecy and tongues - are thought to have ceased. Out on the field, she's witnessing these gifts active (even encountering the demonic) and wrestling through what she reads in the Bible, what she's been taught and what she's experiencing.
With all that in mind, is the Race still worth it?
"I [have] learned a lot, I would recommend it," Kelly responded. There are struggles, but it's good, she assured me. "I certainly wouldn't trade it for anything."
Did you relate with Kelly's story? Share about your common ground or ask Kelly questions by clicking here.