By Marci Narum
At 22, Andrew Hershey is comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. He is preparing himself to live for 11 months without all the comforts of home—most notably, a warm bed, good food, and modern plumbing. And then there are those things every 20-something needs at any given moment: coffee and free Wi-Fi. These comforts will be scarce when backpacking through the mountains of Kazakhstan or traveling through the deserts of Morocco, just a couple of the countries he will see on the World Race. The World Race is a mission trip that will take Andrew to 11 countries in 11 months.
“The mission of the World Race is to do whatever we can to bring God’s kingdom to Earth,” Andrew says. “So whether that’s service projects, leading Vacation Bible School, street ministry, door-to-door ministry, praying for people, or sharing our personal testimonies, that’s what we will do. If we can shine the light in a dark place, that’s what we want to do. We’ll be sent out in groups of four or six in a ministry team. But I will be part of a squad of 30. And we will be together for 11 months.”
Andrew has been on mission trips before, but nothing like the World Race. He says this one challenges a person’s endurance and abilities, especially the ability to live simply, without the comforts of life most of us enjoy in the United States.
“I think they call it a race because it requires endurance, perseverance, faith, and commitment. The days are long and a lot of things are uncomfortable, whether that’s toilets in the ground that you have to squat over or eating food that is not necessarily good, or good for you. Or just doing what you need to do to be part of the culture.”
Kicking off in Mexico 11 years ago, the World Race is described as “a raw adventure in faith.” It takes people out of their comfort zones to places where there are others needing to be comforted, fed, and loved through the word of God. Some have never heard it. The route Andrew’s squad will take, for example, is called “Expedition 10/40”—from Spain to East Asia.
“We are going to parts of the world that have the most people who have never heard the word of God. We will start in Spain, hike around south Spain, and then go to Morocco, and over to Egypt and up into Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus. Then we’ll go to Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and China.
“Each country, month to month, will be different. We’ll have everything on us in a backpack as well as a tent. We may stay in a hut, hostel, barn, or other shelter.
“I never thought I would be able to do the World Race. I went on a couple of mission trips and trainings and it was through those experiences I saw the purpose of it. I saw there is more fulfillment and joy in giving versus receiving, taking, or holding onto what we have.”
And that is coming from a young man who firmly describes himself as being formerly selfish.
“I never really had a desire to do missions work or travel overseas. I just wanted to stay comfortable. My dream was to work, make a lot of money, and get a house on a lake. My perception of that dream started to change when I realized there is more purpose in life than to live it just for myself.”
Andrew says the transformation started to happen while he was in college, as he started to understand his faith and what God was leading him into.
“What is given to me should only be used to bless someone else,” Andrew explains.
“I realized how big the picture is. The story in the Bible is how Jesus came and died for us. And people overseas are not hearing it.”
Andrew is a native of Rugby. And like many college students today, he graduated with significant debt: $32,000. But after attending the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, transferring and graduating from Mayville State University, Andrew came up with a plan to pay it off quickly.
“I decided that if I can live like a college student for one more year I’ll put away as much as I can toward my student loan debt. It took me one year and one month and I finished paying off my debt. That’s when I decided this is the opportunity to do the World Race. There’s no better time in life to go. I’m not married, I have no debt, and it’s a way to experience God and make Him known in this world.”
Andrew needs to raise $18,617 to cover his trip costs, plus another $3,000 for his own expenses. Andrew is a youth leader at Charity Lutheran Church in Bismarck, and his World Race adventure starts in August this year. He says raising the money doesn’t worry him; he is comfortable trusting God to provide.
“I leave August ‘17 and I want you on my team. It’s my little slogan. Because the more people that are involved in this mission and pray about it, the more lives get touched. It’s definitely a team atmosphere, through prayer or through financial support. In college I heard once that if we’re not called to go, we are called to send.”
Follow and support Andrew at andrewhershey.theworldrace.org or call him at 701-681-0116.