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Young missionaries trek around the globe

20-somethings go abroad on 'voluntourism' trips

POSTED: August 31, 2014 1:00 a.m.
/For The Times

Tayler Patton, 23, of Gainesville spent time in India as part of a mission trip called "The World Race." Patton's team prays for two women in their Indian home.

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It took longer than the famous 180 days, but around the world they went.

Tayler Patton and Davis Partrick, both 23-year-old Gainesville residents, recently returned from a global trip that spanned 11 nations in 11 months.

Coined “The World Race,” the adventure is a faith-oriented trip arranged through the Gainesville organization, Adventures in Missions. Participants are told to “serve ‘the least of these’ while amongst real and raw community,” according to Adventures in Missions.

“This unique mission trip is a challenging adventure for young adults to abandon worldly possessions and a traditional lifestyle in exchange for an understanding that it’s not about you; it’s about the kingdom,” the organization said in a news release.

Patton and Partrick did just that in a slew of countries. The combined list included Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Africa, Swaziland, India, Nepal, Romania, Moldova, Turkey, Guatemala, Nigeria, Panama, Malaysia and Mozambique. But not in that order or together. Patton traveled from July 2013 to May 2014 while Partrick went from September 2013 to July 2014.

The North Hall High School graduates are part a growing trend. More and more 20-somethings go on “voluntourism” trips, according to the industry consulting group Tourism, Research and Marketing, which recently released a report saying volunteer tourism and missions trips is one of the fastest-growing trends in travel. More than 1.6 million volunteer tourists spend $2 billion annually to help change the world for the better.

“For me, it was a way to get out of just the pressure I’ve had in America after graduating high school,” Patton said. “I was told to go to college, to graduate, to get a job. And it was difficult for me to discover what I was passionate about. (The World Race) was a way for me to get away from all the distractions and pressures America puts on you.”

The concept of traveling around the world for about a year is also commonly known as a “gap year.” It’s a concept becoming more popular worldwide, with about a 25 percent uptick in the past year, according to a survey released by the youth travel company, STA Travel.

Partrick agrees the trend is increasing, but he said people need to go on trips based on what they can give rather than what they can get from the experience.

“I believe that it is a trend, that people are caught up in thinking that they can find themselves through humanitarian acts,” he said. “But it’s not just about being humanitarian. It’s about showing the love of Jesus.”

Patton and Partrick said they benefited from the trip largely through what they were able to provide to those they met through their travels. When abroad, they did mission work such as evangelism, manual labor, volunteering in orphanages, helping victims of sex trafficking, teaching English and ministering through sports.

“I realized that I’m a person who learns from hands-on experiences,” Patton said. “For me, I do better working in a setting rather than sitting in a class. I learned so much more from going out and living instead of just reading a book (about a specific subject.)”

Partrick said he encourages others with a passion for missions and Christ to consider the trip, as it’s a way to help better understand one’s purpose.

“In our American culture, or as people in general, we tend to want to sit and wait to hear or see clearly what we’re meant to be doing,” he said. “But we need to be willing to take that first step and go. You’ve got to just go. You can’t sit around and wait.”


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