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Families Having the Best Year of Their Lives

When Bill and Katie Swan left on the World Race in 2010, it changed their lives. They had been married three years, had a heart for missions, and wanted to get experience on the field. And that year on the Race gave them so many experiences! Returning home, their love of young people led them …
By sethbarnes

When Bill and Katie Swan left on the World Race in 2010, it changed their lives. They had been married three years, had a heart for missions, and wanted to get experience on the field. And that year on the Race gave them so many experiences!

Returning home, their love of young people led them to join World Race staff.  But as the years passed and they had kids, the question they asked themselves was, “what can we do to help our kids discover God’s heart for missions as we had?”

This past year they struck upon an idea, “What if we could lead a World Race squad and take our three children along?”

The idea blossomed into reality, and together with their children they spent nine months leading a team of 40, traveling to Cambodia, South Africa, Lesotho, and Guatemala.

The result? As Bill shared, “Our family absolutely thrived. Our kids did so well and we saw so much growth in the participants as they stepped into new cultures and embraced the ministries placed before them. They did everything from serving in impoverished villages to teaching English in local schools.”

What’s more, they discovered that their family provided a healthy model of family life for participants who had never had one.

Probably the best thing was to see how their own kids were not too young for all the adventures along the way. and to see them experience so much growth. For example, in Cambodia, Bill and his 9-year-old son, Maxi, got the opportunity to go live in a village and harvest rice alongside a family of new believers. “The family thanked us with tears in their eyes as they are only just learning what it is to be a part of the family of God. It was such a privilege and honor to be able to share in that experience with my son!”

Their trek to Lesotho was another highlight. Bill recounts the story:

We started four hours late because of a leaking transmission. Instead of fixing it, we simply pulled over every hour to pour more fluid in.  We felt like we were on safari as we began counting off all the wild and domestic animals we came across.  Our favorites were the monkeys, ostrich, springboks, and eagles. We drove for hours and saw only shepherds and their flocks, cowboys herding cattle, and a few scattered thatched huts. I felt like we were driving home–to a place filled with God’s beauty.

It was already night when we walked across the border.  There was no power, so the dirt roads were pitch black. The many potholes made it feel like we often had lost the road altogether.  The only bridge had recently collapsed, so we poured out of our two vans and hauled ourselves, our food, and our belongings over rocks that ran across the rushing river.  We then smooshed into a single vehicle that had 12 warning lights flashing and beeping as we pulled away.  The rain started pouring down on the open trailer as we neared our destination.  We quickly grabbed our dripping belongings, snuggled into our bunkbeds, and fell fast asleep.

We awoke in the morning to clanging cowbells and one of the most breathtaking sights I had ever encountered.  The land was covered with a variety of crops, ripe peach trees, and farm animals.  Small cement homes and mud huts gathered in clusters all around the valley.  We spent our mornings trekking to villages on small footpaths where we bring encouragement, prayer, and an offer of tangible help. Even Ruby jumped in and filled containers of water for an elderly woman who struggles to walk to the community well.

Back home, Bill and Katie see how their family made a profound impact. As they invested in their team, they simultaneously showed their kids how to live a missional life – a beautiful example of discipleship coming full circle.

As they shared, “This year was the best year of our lives!  No exaggeration.  We are so overwhelmed that the Lord would trust us with this opportunity!”

They came away seeing that parents who want to impart faith to their children don’t have to wait for them to grow up. Seeing that God is alive and active around the world is a great antidote to the cynicism and entitlement that is so prevalent among young people. As Katie said, “We returned with great hope for Gen Z. Regardless of what Barna, Pew, or any other research group wants to say, we can tell you that there are young people who love Jesus, who are completely sold out for him and are looking to live and love like Jesus everywhere they go!  He is still doing something amazing in and through his people, and we are so inspired by them.”

Interested in finding out more about how your family could have an experience like this? Contact me here and I’ll be happy to help.

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