Host of the 2008 Summer Olympics and home to 1.3 billion people, China’s not just grand in land mass and population. Beside the Han Chinese, there are over fifty minority groups. While China has grown in leaps and bounds industrially, intellectually, and economically, it's still a politically closed nation. Depending on where you are, you may meet Buddhists, Muslims, and Taoists; there are even churches - government approved and regulated. The underground church is extensive and continues growing, even thriving, amidst persecution. While there, you'll have to pay homage to the Great Wall, and bring light and hope to a people in darkness and depression. How you'll do that exactly - you'll find out once you get there.
This Asian island nation, former Spanish colony then American protectorate, is a country in tension, trying to cross the threshold between the third and first world. It offers a variety of landscapes - beaches, mountains, volcanic lakes - and languages, with Tagalog as the national tongue. The Catholic Church is a substantial piece of the religious pie, however, and Islam is growing in the island of Mindinao. The Filipino people and culture love music, dance and community. While there, you will find yourself living with and giving hope to the destitute, caring for orphans, and challenging the growing number of Christ-followers to rise up.
"Hondo" comes from the Spanish word for depth and there's lots of depth to Honduras. It's home to the Aztec and Mayan civilizations, whose ruins are still stand. Honduras is mostly mountainous and the weather's as tropical as it gets. What really runs deep in Honduras are its needs. Honduras is the third poorest in the region, after Haiti and Nicaragua. Like her neighbors, Honduras has had her of share political/military troubles, e.g., the six-month constitutional crisis in 2009. There's a need to reach out to the youth, not just to keep them out of trouble (e.g., gangs) but for them to know their worth and that they're loved.
El Salvador is the third largest economy in the region after Costa Rica and Panama and the smallest country (in land mass) in the Americas. A coup d'etat in 1979 led to civil war from 1980-1992 in this country. Oscar Romero, a Catholic bishop well-known known for supporting liberation theology, advocating for social justice in El Salvador, and protesting the government's persecution of the church was assassinated in 1980 while conducting mass. Much of the country's revenue comes from remittances. In a land whose name translates to "The Savior", you'll be the signs that point to the one true Savior - not a better political system or economy - Jesus Christ.
A country rich in history and natural resources – fertile soil from the volcanoes help yield excellent coffee – Guatemala is the perfect place to initiate your World Race experience. Outside of its aesthetic appeal, Guatemala needs God’s touch. Gripped by poverty and bound to a spirit of religion, the people of Guatemala hunger for the kingdom of God to pervade their lives. You'll have the opportunity to usher in the kingdom to this land and reach out to the people on the fringes of society through hard work, relationships, and maybe even a miracle or two.
This country on the Balkan Peninsula is where Paul himself travelled there on his third missionary journey. Albania declared independence in 1912, but was occupied by both Italy and Germany during World War II. Behind the Iron Curtain, Albania was under Soviet rule until the early 1990s. Most of the population identify themselves as Muslim (70%) while the remainders are Orthodox Christian (20%) and Catholic/Protestant (10%). Your ministry will vary depending on the host that you work with: you could be working with a summer camp for children in the area, reach out to youth ministries and gypsy camps, or you could work in local prisons. Regardless of the ministry, you are sure to bring some much needed hope to this nation.
Romania is home to a large gypsy community. Though strangers in their homeland and forgotten by society, the gypsies are a strong and vibrant people who embrace the light of Christ in an inspirational way. Here, you could teach English, lead sports camps, live life with the gypsies, and more. It will be an exciting time of learning about a people group you may not have known even existed.
With nearly a sixth of the world's population within its borders, India is a country bursting with people and culture. Home to a diverse array of beliefs from Hinduism to Islam, to a blend of folk religions and other faiths, it is a country of pluralism with twenty-nine languages spoken by over a million native speakers, multiple religions, cuisine, socio-economic classes, and political parties. India's struggles with poverty and crimes of human trafficking, forced prostitution, religious persecution, and more. You might work with local churches to encourage believers and most likely be challenged by their testimonies. Your presence will bring hope and truth to those that society deems "untouchable."
Once a kingdom and British protectorate, for 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. Much of northern Uganda was also troubled by the Lord's Resistance Army, which heavily recruited child soldiers. Referred to as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is diverse in topography and wildlife. You may find yourself 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.
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, participants help bear lasting fruit with current ministry partnerships (ministries like evangelism, orphan care, and community development), and build foundations of future partnerships.
Tanzania has a one-third split between Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religious groups. This diversity creates a colorful landscape of people and beliefs. Whether you are doing open-air crusades, door-to-door evangelism or visiting hospitals and orphanages the people of this diverse country will capture your heart.