A Meaningful Journey: Using Travel to Help Others

11/09/20

When thinking about travel, you might think of a resort where you relax by the pool with a refreshing drink in your hand, or a cruise where there is a buffet around every corner. You might think about checking an item off your bucket list or getting that perfect travel picture to post on Instagram.
 
That kind of travel can be such an important and joyful part of life, but there is another kind of travel that can also be deeply fulfilling and meaningful. Just ask anyone who has been on a Children of the Nations Venture Trip. Venture Trips give people the opportunity to travel to one of the five countries we serve in: Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda, Dominican Republic, or Haiti. They get to use their unique skills and giftings to work with the children in our programs. 
 
 
There are many ways you can participate in a trip. You can become a team leader and gather a group of people from your community to join in with you. You can also join a team with an existing trip. There are eight types of Venture Teams: Reach, Heal, Vision, Sustain, Teach, Build, and I Love Baseball. There is truly a spot for anyone who wants to make a difference.
 
If you talk to anyone who has been on one of these trips, they will more than likely share a story with you about how that trip changed their life. 
 
Christi Janecek, who went on a Venture trip to Uganda, said, “One of the things that stuck out the most for me was how different the people in Uganda looked and lived from what I'm accustomed to, but we were immediately bonded by our love for Jesus. We have completely different cultures, norms, and experiences, but instantly became family.”
 
Meaningful travel gives people the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones. We experience new cultures and people with different experiences than ourselves, but ultimately learn that we share more similarities than differences. 
 
 
We prioritize long-term solutions rather than short-term relief in our mission work, and that is no different when it comes to Venture trips. 
 
Pastor O.J. Aldrich said that meaningful travel for him means, “Traveling with a purpose, but also not expecting to change much while I'm there. Having a good perspective on long-term poverty alleviation so that I can help without hurting. Realizing that my presence is important for both myself and the people I am visiting, but framed with what the long-term purpose is so I don't mess anything up too much.”                                             
 
One of the most powerful experiences that can happen on a Venture Trip is when a sponsor gets to meet their sponsored child. These sponsors have been involved in these children’s lives from afar, sometimes for many years before they get to meet them in-person. They have shared in these children’s accomplishments, milestones, and happy memories. 
 
Josh Akers, a pastor at a church in Texas, said that this was the most meaningful part of his Venture Trip: “Hearing their stories, seeing where they live, whether in the village or with a family member, is very powerful and eye-opening. God used that to put a huge burden on my heart to get more involved and do whatever it takes to impact their lives for Jesus.”     
                    
 
There are currently no Venture Trips happening because of restrictions around COVID-19, but keep an eye out for updates on our website at cotni.org/venture-program. You will also find descriptions of the different types of trips and answers to frequently asked questions.
 
If you are even a little bit curious about going on a Venture Trip, you will want to hear what Josh had to say when asked if he would advise other people to go: “Absolutely, yes, 100%. It changed my life. It opened my eyes to what God is doing in other parts of the world which gave me so much hope. It directly impacted my life when the people we had built relationships with on the other side of the world, stopped and fasted and prayed for my wife when she had a life-threatening accident. They are my prayer warriors still today.”