If you have a heart for the local church and its ability to completely transform communities, than this is the route for you!
Where They Went - What They Did
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Your Race will begin with the thick rainforests, rugged highlands, and stunning crystal lakes of Nicaragua. Nicaragua has a large number of people who know the Gospel, though there is great poverty and political unrest. Racers typically focus on relationship building with abandoned children over sports, English and arts and crafts. The children are wounded but still have childlike joy and just crave the opportunity to be kids.
You’ll spend your second month in peaceful Costa Rica – where you’ll grow to love the slow, “pura vida” lifestyle. The main focus of ministry for Racers will be partnering with local churches to share the Gospel with rural communities, especially in impoverished border towns. Some Racers even get the opportunity to grab surfboards, head to the sandy beaches, and minister to the surfer community while leading camps for kids on the beach.
Next your journey will head south. Chile stretches two-thirds the length of South America. It is a country rich in history, culture, and the arts, and is a popular tourist destination in South America. Chile is also one of the most prosperous and successful countries on the continent, with a high standard of living and continual economic growth. There are a lot of people in Chile who identify as Christian but don’t know the love of Jesus.
Next you will head to Argentina, a country rich with culture and nationalism. You will surely pass through Buenos Aires, a bustling city that will remind you of New York City. Our biggest partner in Argentina is Youth with a Mission (YWAM). They have a ropes course and focus on youth and women’s ministry. They also love to take teams out to preach in the street – something we hope you have great confidence in by the end of the Race. Argentinians are very social and love to spend hours talking and catching up over cups of mate. Argentina has the capacity to be a missionary-sending nation, our vision there is to empower them toward this goal!
Your final month in South America will take you to Brazil. The fifth largest country in both population and geography, Brazil is a rising superpower in the world’s economy. From the Amazon jungle to the shores of Rio, this geographically diverse nation is also home to a significant evangelical population and many missionaries. However, crime, homelessness, and poverty are serious issues in Brazil. Those trapped in poverty and feeling forgotten need to know God sees and cherishes them. Jesus is on the move in Brazil. Will you be His hands and feet in this beautiful country?
Your journey will take you next to Europe. Portugal is a nation with a rich history of seafaring and discovery and known for its incredible architecture and artistry. Your squad might get the opportunity to do the Portuguese Camino, a famous, rural walking trail for Christian pilgrims that attracts people from all over the world searching for a deeper meaning in life. This Camino trail starts in Lisbon, Portugal’s dazzling capital, and takes pilgrims across stunning countryside, villages and towns. Each day you will wake up and simply walk as you make friends with fellow travelers and find yourself sharing stories about your year of ministry and all about your faith and hope in Jesus.
Spain sits on the Western edge of the only post-Christian continent on the planet. One of history’s first global empires, its language is the 3rd most spoken in the world. The birthplace of bullfights, the Inquisition, and tapas, this land of deep passion needs new life breathed into their faith. Though 94% of Spaniards would declare themselves Roman Catholic, only 25% of the nation attends a religious service once a month. Whether you are hiking the Camino de Santiago with other pilgrims or sitting at a cafe, will you share your life-changing faith in a land of tradition and religion?
Next, your journey will take you to Eastern Europe. Our partners love relational ministry and ask Racers to spend lots of time getting to know people over coffee, dinner, or long walks. This month you will likely get the opportunity to share your faith while passing out eye glasses and Bibles in the local language. There's also a large Romani population (often unkindly referred to as gypsies). These people are often rejected and discriminated against. You might find yourself spending time in these communities, getting to know their people and sharing the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Next your will travel to Serbia. Formerly part of Communist Yugoslavia, Serbia’s people have a story to tell. The Balkan Peninsula has a long history of ethnic tension, as reorganized borders don’t always match the people living within the nation. While many ethnic Serbs live in Albania, Montenegro, and other nearby countries, many within Serbia’s borders claim another country as home. Great social injustices on both sides have led to organized crime and human trafficking. Those living in the Balkan Peninsula are hungry for hope and restoration.
Your final leg in Eastern Europe will wrap up in Albania. This nation is still working to find its identity after communist rule. One effort to emerge that you'll notice is many colorful buildings. Race teams will help our partners spread the Gospel and plant churches in local communities through building relationships with locals. This month there will be a focus on reaching predominantly Muslim communities through English education. Teams will also get the opportunity to visit prisons and share the Gospel through teaching English as well. No matter where you are this month, you will get the opportunity to share your hope in Christ by joining people in their daily lives.
Your last month on the Race will take you to the intersection of Europe and Asia – Turkey! At some point in the month, you will surely pass through Istanbul, a stunning city with palm tree lined, cobblestone streets alongside towering pristine buildings. The smell of grilled corn and chestnuts fill the air from all the restaurants stacked on top of each other. Many Race teams will serve the Syrian refugee community – helping with job training and teaching English. Other teams will get the opportunity to work with local churches and train locals spread the Gospel. In Turkey, locals love to meet visitors. When you walk down the street, some might run out of their house and invite you in for apple tea.