The Fargo-Moorhead area is a special community. It encompasses all that I desire for my own future family. It’s where I grew up, it’s where my friends and family are, it has taught me almost every lesson I have learned in life thus far. However, I never thought I would stick around when I turned 18. Yet, I have learned that if you ever want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
I found myself attending Concordia College in the fall of 2014, young and enthusiastic to be a part of two great women’s programs – the women’s soccer team and the women’s basketball team. It would be four months later that I would have to make the difficult decision to put my basketball career behind me forever and focus on soccer. Throughout my time at Concordia, I made lifelong friends, pursued my dreams, became heavily involved with multiple organizations and clubs aside from soccer, and was set up for success by some of the best mentors imaginable.
Heart for Service
During spring break of my junior year at Concordia, I decided to participate in a mission trip that was headed to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. I went with an organization called SALTS, Saving A Life Through Service. It was an incredible 10 days partnering with different ministries, worshipping with friends, and having an experience of a lifetime. It was here that I first heard about the World Race. The World Race is an 11-month mission trip to 11 different countries. You are partnered with a ministry host and work alongside different organizations and churches serving and sharing the Gospel.
During dinner one night on this mission trip, I remember sitting with our hosts and beginning to talk with the wife who started showing me pictures and explaining the mission of World Race. It lit a fire in my heart that hasn’t stopped burning since that day. I was yearning for something more, something powerful and something incredibly real. Prior to that point, I just had no idea what it was.
Upon returning home, I realized that my life had been flipped upside down in both my academics and my personal life. Many things had me in a dark place, although by simply looking at me you would never have been able to tell. That following summer, during a tough season of my life, I sought out guidance from spiritual mentors I’ve always admired, along with some friends. It wasn’t long until summer was over and my senior year began that I decided it was time to take a leap of faith: I applied for the World Race and was accepted!
I finished my senior year at Concordia with my best friends and had the greatest time of my four years in college. Then, in August of 2018, I stepped foot on a plane that wouldn’t bring me home to American soil for an entire year.
Upon embarking on this journey with the World Race, I abandoned every comfort I had ever known with 33 strangers. I stepped into a life where the only constant was inconsistency. Every moment of the race has guaranteed uncertainty – whether that’s where we’re staying, how we’re getting somewhere, when ministry is, or the next time we’ll get to message our families – it has all been uncertain. For myself, this aspect alone has probably been the biggest struggle on the race due to how big of a planner I am; yet, being a part of our squad’s logistics team has helped ease some of that struggle.
I am currently in Month Eight of my race and am teaching English to Cambodian students who only speak Khmer. My team also leads intercessory prayer, Bible studies, and preaches on Sundays. I previously spent four months in Central America working on clearing ground for an aviation ministry site to reach indigenous people. While there, we also built a playground, worked with surf camps and other sports camps, evangelized, and even worked at a home for women and children who were survivors of rape, abuse and incest. Afterward, I traveled to Africa for three months where I worked with Feed My Starving Children at care points and also taught multiple subjects in a school, led Bible studies and youth groups, did sports ministry, and ministered to widows.
New norms of my life have included wearing the same outfit three days in a row, piling 15 people in the back of pickup beds, going to sleep under a bug net while sweating just as much as you would in a workout, bucket showers, cheering when the water or electricity turns on (once it was out for three full days), waiting for new podcasts to be released instead of movies or music, living off $5 a day for food, always checking your packs and beds for spiders, ants, geckos, cockroaches and scorpions. And never ever ever having any alone time.
A Journey of Growth
This journey has helped me grow mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I have been stretched to where I can’t stretch anymore and then I somehow do. I have rejoiced in praise in multiple different languages with complete strangers. I have sat silenced in a room of five teammates as some cry and others stare off into the distance as our hearts break for what breaks his or hers.
This journey has been anything but easy but worth every second.
Matthew 16:24-26 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’”
The Lord has called us to things bigger than ourselves; he calls us deeper still to waters that are uncharted and to areas outside our realm of providing. Our walk with him isn’t about sufficiency; it’s about dependency and there is no way I could have done this alone. I did it with my Father above.
The World Race has taught me to push deeper and love harder. It’s taught me grace and forgiveness. I have seen a redemption in my life from areas I didn’t even know subconsciously were wounded. I’m going home changed by the Holy Spirit, a woman firm in her foundation and rooted in her identity.
Upon arriving home in the States, I look forward to catching up with family and friends. I will say my hellos and then my goodbyes as I pack up and move out West to Oregon where I will be attending optometry school at Pacific University College of Optometry. I am excited to chase fearlessly in the pursuit of what sets my soul on fire. I have big visions and hope for the future of supplying medical mission trips to underserved, underprivileged, and unreached places around the world.
I didn’t realize that my time at Concordia would influence me as much as it did to listen to the call the Lord had for me. The community that is fostered in the small, sleepy town of Moorhead, Minnesota, has a unique taste to it that really brings about new meanings of family. I have been able to apply numerous skills that I acquired during my four years at Concordia in the missionary field and have found that some of my biggest supporters come from this same community. I owe a large thank you to the entire Concordia family for equipping me, challenging me, and supporting me to have a thirst to go and make disciples of all nations and to love others as our Father loves us.
Seasons of our lives will come and go, some will be good while others will be bad. I wish I had realized in college just how important it is to stay grateful in the good times and faithful in the bad, as well as the importance of finding mentors for your spiritual walk, your career, and personal life. My mentors have been an extraordinary help in seeking guidance and wisdom when I have had multiple options to turn down vastly different roads.
If you would like to continue to follow my journey or catch up on stories from the past months, feel free to check out my blog at rachelosmundson.theworldrace.org.
Much love and many blessings,
Rachel Osmundson ’18