When we first started the World Race, we knew we had a problem. The Race was 11 months long, but looking at Jesus’ model, we could see that would not be enough time. Jesus took three years with his disciples. What could we do to help racers keep growing after a year of adventures?
Like Odysseus returning to his home, racers may feel heroic. But they may find that home is not the safe place it once was. They will still face adversity and often may feel unprepared to combat it.
In 2007, we looked at the Patterson Life Planning model and thought, “If racers could go through this Life Planning process, they would have a road map to reintegrate into society.” We spent $4000, hired a life planning consultant, trained our trainers, and then flew them to Thailand to train racers.
But racers were too focused on the Race to be able to look ahead like that, so in 2008, we phased out that initial effort. Next World Race leadership met to ask the question, what else can we do? I wrote a blog as a website prototype that contained a lot of resources and ideas.
In 2010, we rolled out a post-race conference called Project Searchlight that has kept going ever since (and garnered great reviews). After that, we began focusing on helping racers to follow their dreams through a whole new ministry called Kingdom Dreams.
In 2011, racer alumnus Scott Taylor built an incredible database for alumni. Sadly, we couldn’t get them to use it. Simultaneously, we looked at building a “GoPlex” campus that would partner multiple businesses and ministries to connect Millennials to their calling and to mentors. We also started a ministry to alumni and launched an annual conference called the Awakening.
For years, our board of directors has looked at the issue of how best to help alumni. Last year we started the Global Kingdom Network to provide aftercare to returning World Racers to continue growing in God’s Kingdom.
We have hired and trained a team of alumni counselors called Navigators. Navigators know what it’s like to return from the race. They develop trust with individual racers and a long-distance relationship with them on their race.
Then, when racers they are following return, they are available to help those racers process all that they are going through. They can answer questions and help connect racers to resources.
Racer reviews are uniformly positive. And Navigators themselves are loving the experience. I couldn’t be more excited about this valuable resource.