How A Global Serving Trip Can Change Your Life

Willow Creek | October 28, 2022

Nick and Theresa Budmats have been going on global serving trips for decades, leading family teams and adult teams to Latin America and the Middle East. Their passion for the local church and building relationships through serving is contagious—many have begun serving because of their influence. While they lead as a married couple, God continues to work in each of their lives as individuals.

“My first trip was 31 years ago,” says Nick, “and it changed the trajectory of my life and my wife and children.” On that first trip, they visited a church that was built on a former pig pen—the walls were made from cardboard tomato boxes and wood pallets, but God’s presence was tangible. “It was God’s house and He was present,” continues Nick. That trip set them on a new path of serving and experiencing God’s work worldwide.

On another trip to Guatemala, the Budmats and their team helped build a playground at a local church, which was under-resourced but located near a public school. “All week long the kids would stare at the playground that was being built,” says Theresa. “It was the only playground in the area—not even a school had a playground.” When the playground was complete, the church threw a party and hundreds of children showed up. “It was close to chaos and close to Heaven all at the same time.” 

Nick and Theresa Budmats, far right, in Jerusalem with a global serving team in 2016.

Over the years, Nick and Theresa have led at least 20 teams to Mexico, Israel, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, and each trip was special. “The person who changed the most all along was me,” says Nick. “I learned that God has given all of us gifts to use in His service to others; we all glorify God when everyone freely shares their gifts.” 

Each trip provides an opportunity to serve, worship, and reflect together, which is a catalyst for connection. “Never underestimate what impact a trip can have on you—even kids,” says Theresa. “Some of the most moving times during family trips is when kids share about the ways they saw Jesus in the people they met or situations we encountered. God changes lives on these trips.”

While the trip itself is powerful, the relationships and growth last a lifetime. “Along the way, we have learned so much about peacemaking, justice, poverty, and wealth. And many of those who I thought were living in poverty, were actually living lives of deep spiritual wealth and communion with God. All of those words (peacemaking, justice, poverty, and wealth) were redefined along the way for me in the past 31 years. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve, learn, and build these relationships.”

Consider going on a global serving trip and see what God might do! Learn more and apply at willowcreek.org/global.