Woman set to visit 11 countries in 11 months

Lacey Cortez was searching for answers.

And as most Christians do, she turned to God.

The Alabaster Parks and Recreation special events manager was going through a divorce and was desperate for a resolution to her crumbling marriage, and then it happened.

The World Race happened.

During a conversation with Parks Director Larry Vann, the subject of mission work came up, as did the World Race.

What was the World Race, Lacey wondered.

So, she searched it on Google.

“I became fascinated with it,” Cortez said. “I thought there is no way I could do that.”

But after sending off for more information, Vann once again discussed the subject with Cortez.

“He said ‘You really need to pray about the World Race. I thought ‘OK God, I get it,” Cortez said. “Everything was confirming that I needed to go.”

So she did it.

In October, Cortez and a group of 49 other Christians will divide up into groups of five and race around the world to 11 countries in 11 months, building love in one another and building love in Christ.

The World Race is a mission program where each group of five will receive a mission and then race to a country. Once in that country, the groups will do various missions, ranging from planting churches, working with existing churches, building churches and working with orphans and the impoverished.

Each person will live on approximately $4 a day, and each group must find their way to the next destination since flying will not always be an option.

“They say you can take a boat, a train or lease a donkey,” Cortez said. “Whatever you have to do to get there.”

Cortez will report to Gainesville, Ga. in July for a 10-day training and meet-and-greet session. She will return to Gainesville in October, where the groups will be debriefed before racing to Guatemala.

From there, the racers will visit countries like Nicaragua, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cameroon, Ghana, Romania and Thailand. The groups will pioneer in the Ukraine and Africa, meaning they will determine exactly where to go once they get to these regions.

A self-described “girlie girl,” Cortez said although things like what will she eat and financing are concerns, she is more excited about this new chapter in her life.

“It’s completely out of character for me,” Cortez said. “Everything I own is going to be packed in a backpack.”

Although she does not know anyone else going on the race, she has been talking with the other races on the Internet and through blogs. And she also has the advantage of being able to seek advice from Vann, who has been on missions to foreign countries.

And he thinks she’ll do just fine.

“She can relate to anybody, and she’s got a heart for Jesus,” Vann said. “The spirit of God has definitely lit a fire in Lacey.”

Vann also knows her selfless nature will carry her through the mission.

“They’re going to get the worst of the worst and receive the best of the best,” Vann said. “You have to give up every bit of self. There can’t be anything selfish about you.”

And that is something Cortez is trying to live by.

“Instead of simply living, I’m trying to live simply,” Cortez said.

Although Cortez is taking a leave of absence from her job and hopes to come back, as long the economy allows the position to still be, Vann thinks the World Race is the best place for Cortez.

“It’s bittersweet,” Vann said of Cortez leaving. “But I’d much rather have Lacey in the mission field than on the ball field.”

For more information about Cortez’s World Race, or to make a donation, contact her at 664-6840 or lcortez@cityofalabaster.com.