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Education Beyond Classroom Walls
Q & A about the importance of travel in rounding out a good Christian education.

Never has the world been smaller nor postgraduate options more numerous.

Ben Moerman…knows who he is: a Travel Adventurer. So far, he’s visited 20 countries.

With classrooms vying against global education, the world is, in actuality, one’s oyster. As the future begs for definition, it’s crucial to know who you are.

Ben Moerman, a 26-year-old Bible School graduate from Maple Ridge, BC, knows who he is: a Travel Adventurer. So far, he’s visited 20 countries.

Following is an interview conducted with Moerman, in which Options seeks to understand the relevance of world travel to today’s Christian students.

Options:  Ben, I understand you grew up in a Christian home. Can you tell me about your faith journey?

Ben Moerman (BM): It’s definitely been a journey. There have been several epiphany moments.

The first was when I was six years old with my mom; the second was when God supernaturally spoke to me in a way I couldn’t deny. That experience was something that has kept my faith grounded in a lot of questions and doubts that have come over the years.

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Another was travel-related; I got involved in a cult in Australia when I was immediately out of high school; God brought me out of that… that set me searching for truth and realizing that truth isn’t always easy to find. I realized that I’m susceptible to the same deceptions as everyone else. The search for true truth is a very worthwhile pursuit.

Options:How have your travels affected your walk with God, and your perspective of the world?

BM:  On my last trip I spent seven months traveling alone; that meant it was just me and God. I learned to trust that He’s there. I gained confidence in my belief that God is with me wherever I go, as cliché as that may sound. He was in a church in Nepal or on a mountaintop somewhere, or on a bus right after my wallet had been stolen… all different experiences, all different settings, God seemed to show up. Not to say He showed up in the way I wanted Him to every time, but there’s definitely been a wide variety of ways and places that He’s made His presence known in one way or another.

Options:  Which would you say are the top three places you’ve been, and why?

BM:  My top three were India, Nepal and Mozambique. India is an incredible place, culturally: it’s got such a rich history, and is a sensory overload. Nepal is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, I spent three weeks hiking there. I haven’t been able to place what it is about Mozambique that I love, but I know I loved the people; I saw a ton of need.

Options:  What, in your opinion, is the definition of education, and how are you aspiring toward it?

BM:  I think it’s not only gathering information but learning how to think critically. Education is definitely more than a degree and ideally it’s something that continues throughout all of life.

Personally, I’m looking into a MBA with a focus in Micro-Credit. I then hope to work giving small loans and business training to the entrepreneurial poor in Mozambique and/or Nepal. I just got back last week from a trip to Guatemala to see if Micro Credit is something I’d like to get involved in more.

Options:  What have you learned from your travels?

BM:  Initially, how wealthy I am; I think with that, to whom much is given much has been required.

Another thing I’ve learned is that there’s so much to be experienced, to witness in the world. No matter how much you see or do, the opportunities are endless.

Options:  So with all of these options, how can we know God’s will for our lives?

BM:  I think that God gives us a lot of freedom to do things we love. His word is clear on a lot of things, but to me they seem more like overriding principles that guide who we are rather than what we do or what adventures we go on. He’s created us to enjoy some things and not others, and the challenge is trying to be honest with ourselves.

Options:  Would you encourage students who don’t know what to do with their lives to travel first?

BM:  Yes. I would also say there are a couple of different kinds of travel: I’d encourage purposeful travel. Travel to a place and in a way that will challenge you.

Options:  Would you say it’s important for us as believers in Christ to travel as much as possible?

BM:  I think it’s important to travel as believers, but I think it’s more important to be involved in some way, shape or form in international ministry, whether that’s social justice, or economic development, or evangelism. I’d definitely encourage every Christian to have several cross-cultural experiences in their life.

Options:  Who have been some of the people that have influenced you as a travel-adventurer? How have they influenced you?

BM:  I think my Dad encouraging me to go on my first trip to the Ukraine at 13; he said if you want to come, this is how much money you need to raise – and he just encouraged me as I tried to raise that money. Then my parents again in being cool enough to let me go at 18 with a bunch of my friends.

I’ve got one friend who lives in his van, and he’s taught me what we need to survive and what things are luxuries. I’ve got another friend who’s walking the whole length of Gandhi’s River. I learned a lot from him about freedom in Christ.

He taught me we can’t be shackled by our desire to find God’s exact will for our lives. I think it’s a common misconception that God has one specific thing in mind for each one of us and that we’re going miss out on our calling in life if we choose one good thing as opposed to another. God will make it clear if you do have a definite calling. God’s a lot more concerned about us finding it than we are, and He’s quite capable to lead us to it if He wants to. We just have to be willing to listen.

Emily Wierenga is a writer based in Blyth, Ontario.

Originally published in Options, Spring 2008.




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