Living in the United States can create a sense of isolation and security. I know many Americans that have never crossed outside the borders of this great country. “Why would I want to go anywhere else?” is often the question.
According to the federal travel agency, in January 2013 113,431,943 Americans held passports. That is roughly 37% of the population. Until 2007 before the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was instated, the percentage was below 10%.
My passport expired last year. My wife and I enjoy traveling. However, I have not been out of the country in over two years. Fostering and adopting a young child will do that to international travel plans.
We have been all over the world for pleasure and mission work. We lived in Thailand for six months in 2007 doing some volunteer mission work. We thought we were returning in 2010 or 2011, but God had a different plan for us. He captured our heart with His heart for orphans.
I had lunch this week with a new friend Randy Doleman. He is the director of The Orphan Care Network. He asked me a good question—”which one am I drawn to more—mission work or orphan care.” I sat and thought a couple of minutes before answering.
Obviously, we decided to stay in the States in 2010 instead of going back overseas to pursue foster care and possibly adoption. However, the desire to return to the mission field remains strong.
In fact I have two trips scheduled in the next six months, and Danielle is leading a team to Thailand next summer to work with the Tamar Center.
Back to that conversation with Randy…after the pause, I answered that we have a passion for orphan care, but I am still drawn to international missions. I hope our upcoming travels will bring me some clarity for our family.
I did renew our passports, so we are ready to resume our international traveling. Enough about me and our family. What about you? Do you have a passport?
Why You Should Have a Passport
Prepare for the Unexpected
Even if you think you will never travel internationally, you should get your passport. You never know when you might have to leave the country. I imagine that some of you are conspiracy theorists and think that the need to have a passport to even go to Mexico or Canada now is a way to keep track of everyone. You might be right. But, I look at it as a way of preparedness in the case I ever have to or want to leave the country immediately.
Expand Your Horizon
Not wanting to travel internationally is a foreign concept to me (pun intended). Experiencing other cultures will change the way you see the world—and yourself. That is a good thing. Sure, the culture here in Texas is much different that upstate New York. But, experiencing the culture in China or South Africa is drastically different.
Take a Longer Vacation
Americans are notorious for taking mini-vacations. We look down our noses at someone that takes longer than a week off from work. In 2011, Danielle and I went to Europe for three weeks. I had just left a job, and we were about to begin fostering children. It was the perfect time to do it. I needed all three weeks to decompress. Yes, it takes time to get to other parts of the world, but it is worth it.
If you are a Christ follower, you are told to go. I think every Christian should go on one international short-term mission trip during their lifetime. You never know, you might decide to serve longer term as a missionary or adopt a child from a foreign country. Obviously, you need a passport to do this.
Not the same thing as serving others. I am referring to the possibility that you might need to go help someone that lives in another country. “I don’t know anyone living in another country!” you might say. In the past three months two families that I know, one a neighbor the other church members, moved to foreign countries with their jobs. In both situations the decision and move happened very fast.