The World Race. What is that you would be asking yourself. And that’s where Sarah comes in. We had the opportunity to connect with Sarah Baker. Here is her story in a nutshell.
‘Normal’ wasn’t a word comfortably used in Sarah Baker’s vocabulary. As a little girl, she planned Barbie’s wedding and hoped that someday, she’d meet her own Ken. In junior high, she talked with her friends of living the “cool life” in a big city with a cozy apartment. But the older she got, the more the American dream felt stagnant. Stifling. Normal.
At the age of sixteen, Sarah went on her first mission trip to Costa Rica. Her life has not been the same; since then, normalcy is something no longer achieved or hoped for. And she is more than content with that.
The struggle exists, however, to find a job description that includes “adventure seeker, writer, traveler, lover of children and Jesus follower.” So, at the age of 22, when Sarah stumbled upon The World Race, she was more than thrilled. The Race, an eleven month mission trip to eleven countries, throws its participants into culture after culture while serving alongside brothers and sisters all around the world. It includes travel, loving on children, maintaining a blog, and serving Jesus. “I’d been telling people I wanted to do something like this all along, I just didn’t know it exists and is called ‘The World Race’,” she says.
After gulping at the price tag of such an adventure, Sarah set out to raise the funds both before she left in July of 2014, and while on the field. Confident that the nations were where God was calling her, she pressed onward, and he provided. Anonymous after anonymous donation came in, which “blows my mind that people believed in me that much, to continue supporting me so I could–quite literally–love the world.”
The Race broke her. Her first country, Nepal, was where she learned to push through fears of public speaking and share her heart with locals in their homes. Church is not about the building, but the mixture of languages singing to one God from a simple home in the Himalayan foothills.
In India, humbleness came in the form of a sari. Two Indian women dressed her in their finest gown and ironically (or maybe not so much) she spoke at church that night about beauty–while the dye from the sari sweat down her back.
In Thailand, being the hands and feet of Jesus looked like building a church, making one brick at a time.
Cambodia was a country that exploded with joy, a place where The Lord began to re-shape Sarah, encouraging her to teach ukulele lessons and act out Bible stories in village outreach. Children seemed to be everywhere, their laughter a song that echoed the very core of her being.
The journey continued in Africa. Sarah learned to listen to His voice in Swaziland, to be content with hard circumstances in South Africa, and to embrace the uncomfortable in Botswana (including, but not limited to, snakes and giant spiders).
Eastern Europe (Romania and Moldova) reminded her that God is always in control, even when it seemed her circumstances were not. Babysitting and playing volleyball with college kids was what He assigned her to do, dirty diapers, bruises, and all.
In Guatemala, Sarah befriended a feisty old lady and danced with patients in the cerebral palsy wing. Nicaragua was a place of trust, proving to Sarah–yet again–that God knew what he was doing when he called her to make tough decisions and live beyond herself fully in Him.
Sarah’s Race ended in May, but the adventure is far from over. There still seems to be no job description, but throughout the Race, God revealed more of Sarah’s voice to her, specifically through writing. For so long, she struggled to answer the questions, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and since the Race, “what are you doing next?”
At a dining room table in chilly Moldova, she felt it: the stirrings. Not to run again or to travel. But to stay. To write.
In September, Sarah moved to a small town in Georgia to pursue her dreams of writing. She hopes to continue to develop her God-given voice and passion for storytelling about missions, travels, and real life struggles. Not quite the typical missionary, but hey, did you expect normal to wiggle its way in here?
To read more about Sarah’s World Race adventure (and to support her schooling) go to: sarahbaker.theworldrace.org. You can also find Sarah living out day to day struggles, humor and lessons at passageofapilgrim.org.
-written by Sarah Baker