MIAMI COUNTY — While Phileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout traveled the world in 80 days, Luke Thompson of Pleasant Hill will travel 11 countries in 11 months next year and is asking the community to help.
Thompson described himself as being a Christian and recently went on his first mission trip to Atlanta, where he worked in the inner city with the Hispanic community.
“We worked with the kids and did a lot of work with the apartment buildings that were run down, painting them and such,” he said. “It was a lot of humanitarian work.”
Now, he felt it was time to do a second mission trip of a larger scale: The World Race.
Thompson explained the World Race consists of he and a team of about 50 people visiting 11 countries in 11 months, where they will work with the community in the particular country to help where they can.
“I have a friend who lives in Piqua who has already done it before, and she told me I should do it,” he said. “I looked into it and when I did I decided I wanted to do it.”
The countries on his itinerary include Indonesia, India, Turkey, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Greece, Morocco, and Kyrgyzstan.
“This lies in what they call the 1040 window, which is 10 degrees above the equator and 40 degrees below it,” he explained. “Between that window is pretty much the poorest countries and they have a very low life expectancy. They have a lot of sick, a lot of poor and very little hope.”
The World Race also has an element of danger with it. Thompson said that in some of the areas the group will go to, it’s illegal to be a Christian, with penalties that include being thrown in jail.
“Since this is a Christian mission organization, it will be somewhat dangerous if certain people in the country find out we are Christian,” he said. “A lot of it is going to be we will do the best we can not to tell anyone.”
Planning for the World Race is a long-term process. Thompson said he originally planned to leave in January 2016, but because of some things coming up had to postpone leaving until August 2016.
Until then, he is raising funds for the trip. The necessities that go along with the World Race include a lot of airfare, visas, food and shelter.
“Some of the time I’ll be sleeping in a tent for at least a month and other times we’ll be India and there’s not a lot of places to camp there,” he said. “So we’ll have to find somewhere cheap that we can stay. That also covers foods and any sort of transportation.”
In total Thompson will need to raise around $16,000 to make sure he will have the visas, airfare and enough for food and board. His goal is to hit around $6,000 by March, which he is raising through work and hosting events such as spaghetti dinners.
“I have a lot of connections in the music scene, so I’m hoping to do a benefit concert,” he said. “They’re all my friends, so I called them up to say ‘hey, let’s set something up.’”
Thompson set up a GoFundMe account for donations as well as a Facebook page for everyone to keep up with what he is doing.
“That (Facebook) is going to be my central hub for what’s going on as far as the trip,” he said. “Even when I’m gone, that’s going to be where I post here’s what’s going on today, this is who we helped and this is the impact on our lives because you gave.”
His family and friends have been supportive. He said his parents were nervous, but the opportunity to learn about the world was exciting and learn about how God is moving in other areas than the United States.
“I’m hoping that I’ll get a bigger perspective on the world than just what I see in little town Ohio,” he said. “You know, you watch TV, you read the newspaper and I feel like we’re only getting a small snippet of what is happening in these countries and what I really want to learn is what’s happening and how I can help. We get such a filtered view from all of this, and I would love to learn more about it.”
To donate or keep up with Thompson, visit “Luke’s World Race Mission” on Facebook or GoFundMe.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.