Can sharing your bedroom with lizards, scorpions and insects, along with several other humans bring you closer to God? It did for Alex Banks (’16, MM ‘17) now the emerging associates officer for Lipscomb’s Alumni Relations Office on her 11-month spiritual journey called the World Race.
“On the race, I lived in the most uncomfortable places you can imagine,” said Banks. “Two of the months where I experienced my most uncomfortable living situations is where I saw God the most.”
The World Race is a journey to 11 countries in 11 months, spending one month in each country working to meet the needs of the community by serving alongside local churches and organizations to ultimately share the Gospel.
Before she began to college at Lipscomb, Banks didn’t have any desire to leave the country for mission work, but she said that quickly changed once she became exposed to overseas missions. Banks traveled to Haiti several times, and to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua during college.
In June of 2017, Banks spent 10 days at the World Race training camp where she met the other 44 members of her team. After participating in airport simulations and camping in tents all week to prepare them for life on the race, Banks left training camp with mixed emotions.
“I was so ready to go on the race after training camp,” said Banks. “I was really thankful for who God was letting me do this trip with, and I felt so prepared, but I was also so nervous. I’m not normally a nervous person, but I didn’t know how to process leaving an entire American life behind.”
After saying some hard goodbyes, Banks and her squad departed for their journey. Their World Race route took them to India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.
Each country provided new obstacles and new glimpses of beauty, but two of her favorite experiences took place in Thailand and Ethiopia.
“Our host in Thailand was a man named PJ and he is the most joyful, Jesus-loving man I’ve ever met. My team loved serving alongside PJ and his wife and we hope to go back one day.
“When we were in Ethiopia, we lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere loving on 24 orphans for an entire month. I would have to say, living in Ethiopia last January was one of the best months of my whole life. The kids were amazing. We love them all so much, and I still think about them every day. I’m hoping to go back and visit them in the next year or two.”
From observing people living in poverty like she had never seen before to witnessing miraculous physical healing, her time spent traveling through these countries provided a lot of eye-opening experiences.
“Many people were physically healed in front of me,” said Banks. “There was no access to health care and no doctors, so they had to fully rely on God to heal them, and I saw many people healed by the power of Jesus.”
While much of her travels were filled with cute children, powerful healing and joyful hosts, Banks said her journey wasn’t all Instagram beautiful.
“It was hard,” said Banks. “You’re being immersed in uncomfortable situations – living in poverty, eating food you’ve never had before, getting sick, sleeping on the floor and being away from your family.”
Even though a lot of her trip presented difficult situations, Banks said her time at Lipscomb and the consistent prayers from the Lipscomb community helped her through the difficult days.
“I think Lipscomb prepared me spiritually for this trip through my classes,” said Banks. “The mission trips I went on with the basketball team and my time with them helped me too.
“The people who prayed for me every day weren't able to see how their prayers changed my time on the race, but I could feel that hundreds of people were praying for me while I was on the trip. God was keeping me healthy and safe on the trip, and that truly does go back to the Lipscomb and Nashville community and their faithful prayers.”
Since Banks has returned to America, she began working for Lipscomb’s alumni relations department, has shared stories from her journey in Lipscomb’s weekly chapel service and is even mentoring Lipscomb senior Chandler Adams, who will leave in August for the World Race.
Interested in learning more about the World Race? Click here.