Traveling abroad creates separation from our context and comfort zone, allowing God to speak more clearly into our lives. Carter Bell, a teacher from Indianapolis, experienced this phenomenon first hand on the 2015 ServLife Teacher Training Trip to Nepal. “I think preparing to go on the trip really helped me become a better teacher as I prepared to help meet their needs. I was just very encouraged that not only was it a great opportunity for me but it was also a great opportunity for [the Nepali teachers]” Carter explains. New experiences, she says, are God’s way of growing us spiritually and stretching our awareness of other’s needs and the work He has for us to do.
Henri Nouwen calls this process of leaving our normal context “voluntary displacement” and advocates it as a discipline through which we can grow closer to God. “Following Jesus involves leaving the comfortable place and going to a place that is outside our comfort zone… Voluntary displacement prevents us from being caught in the net of the ordinary and proper. It is the discipline essential to remembering who we really are and remaining in touch with our greatest gifts of gratitude and compassion.”-Henri Nouwen, Compassion
ServLife trips provide a great opportunity to practice getting outside your context. As a team travels to the other side of the world to help those in need they end up not only gaining a great experience, but also finding a new perspective on God’s work and expanding their capacity for compassion.
“I think any time that you get a chance to experience something new,” Carter says, “whether it’s in your neighborhood, in your city, or halfway across the world, you should do it… it’s how our eyes get opened to not only his beauty but the work that needs to be done in his name.”
If you would like more information on ServLife trips in 2016, or to sign up to participate in one, please visit our trips page.