My entire life I was raised in this bubble called America, where my world view was shaped by the music I listened to, the TV and movies I watched, and the people I was around. My goals and visions were based on how I can impress people with all that I have accomplished and material accumulations over the years. The legacy that I wanted to leave was that Travis did great things and became a legend to many. But the only way I knew how to do that was through what I learned growing up, through making it big and living a “Good life”.
My life consisted of having access to anything that I wanted through a lot of hard work. I got use to buying nice things and getting things that would make my life more comfortable. House, Cars, and even things I didn’t need, but just wanted because I could. COMFORTABLE! That was my life; always had access to things.
But something crazy happened! God came into my life and brought me out of my American bubble into a world that was far different than anything else I had seen. It was a real world for so many people and to experience this first hand, it opened my eyes to see outside of this American box and into understanding other peoples’ lives His way.
In 2006, I went on a mission trip to Vietnam and as we were there, we went to a place called “The House of the Desolate”. This was where lepers, old people, and anybody else who was “USELESS” to society was sent to be pushed away so that they weren’t a burden to anybody. At this place, I saw old women who were so fragile that they struggled to get off the cement ground that they slept on. I saw kids left without parents and nowhere to go. I saw people starving to death because they didn’t have enough food to eat because they were unable to provide for themselves. The list goes on and on about what I saw, but I can tell you this, This was reality for so many people and this was the life they had to live out.
That night it was hard for me to eat. I couldn’t stop thinking about the millions if not billions all over the world that deal with this on a daily basis. My bubble had been busted and my heart broke and I felt like God was saying, now you know how I feel. That is why I sent you there to help feed my children.
The story didn’t stop there, I continued to go on missions trips over the years and the same thing happened each time. I would see things that I heard about, but were never real to me because I had not experienced them first hand. I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of this reality that existed outside of America. I was shaken and wrecked to a point where after one of my trips to Africa it was hard for me to adapt back into the American lifestyle.
I had gone to Malawi and spent a month with an organization called Water Wells for Africa. When I got there I had seen a land that was considered one of the poorest countries in Africa. They literally only had the clay huts they built and the clothes on their backs. In one village we went to, water was scarce and they had to walk 2 hours just to fill a bucket and bring it back 2-3 times a day. They spent most of their days working the land and trying to get water to live on. But here is the crazy thing, it wasn’t that exhaustive lifestyle that rocked me, it was the fact that although they had nothing, they were some of the most joyful and giving people I have ever encountered. The chief had gone to the back to find their very best live chicken and they gladly handed over their most valuable possession as a sign of thankfulness.
WHAT???? A people who had nothing, but willing to give over everything just blew my mind! And doing it with joy and thanksgiving? This was unheard of coming from a very selfish culture. Although we were the missionaries, they were teaching us what it means to live like Christ and give out of sacrifice.
When I got back into the States, I was never the same. My lifestyle changed and I couldn’t justify all the excess I had. My giving changed and how I used my money became less about myself and how I could bless others. My conscience became heavy on what I spent because every dollar now was attached to my experience of those who had nothing but gave sacrificially. It was attached to people who didn’t have a penny to eat and were slowly dying. It was attached to the missionaries who give up their comfort to help those in need and struggle to get support and make it daily.
But it got harder the more I was there because nobody understood me. I would see people order more than they needed and just throw it away and think nothing of it. I would see people work countless hours to make money so they could spend it on buying things that would make them more comfortable. I would see kids who were never satisfied with having everything and anything. I would see a world of consumerism that would consume people into this false reality of this idea that you need more to be happy.
It was a struggle and if I ever tried to explain this to people, it was hard for them to understand my frustration. I had to come to realize that they couldn’t. It was impossible for them to feel what God had placed on my heart because they didn’t have that same experience first hand of seeing outside of the American bubble. They didn’t look into the eyes of a person who hasn’t eaten for days and just needed a dollar to live another month. My experience isn’t a reality to those who have never been there. It is just another story. I had come back to a world that no longer felt like home. Alone and out of place just wanting people to understand
God had wrecked me and had shown me that this world is in need and there is no time for us to sit around and be comfortable. People are hurting, people are struggling to eat, and they all need Jesus. I know some of you might read this and still not understand, and I get it, but for those who do, I hope you will rise up and make a difference. Whether it is with your neighbor or getting outside of your country for missions, there is so much to be done and it starts with you. God blesses you to be a blessing!