What if your sense of adventure could be combined with making a positive impact in the world? We had an inspiring conversation with our good friend Paul Hurkman, the Executive Director of Venture, a nonprofit dedicated to being a voice for the voiceless. Paul shares his incredible experiences running across Minnesota, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and hiking to Everest Base Camp - all in the name of helping others and creating meaningful connections along the way.
We also touched on the importance of partnering with local leaders when tackling international work, and how these collaborations can lead to real, lasting change. Venture's mission is to not only assist communities in need, but also to learn from and be guided by the wisdom of the global church. Together, we can avoid the pitfalls of toxic charity and ensure that our efforts empower and uplift those we aim to help.
Lastly, Paul shares insights on how travel can be a transformative experience, not just for ourselves, but also for the people and places we visit. Tune in for practical advice on how to approach international adventures with humility, respect, and a desire to make a positive impact. So, get ready to feel inspired and challenged to live a life full of adventure, service, and purpose.
Have a question for Paul? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Venture website: https://venture.org/
Venture Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/venture_org/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrisandsara_ | @chrisandsara_
Call or text us a question or comment: +1 (423) 825-9572
Get inspired by world travelers Chris and Sara with "What No One Tells You," their conversational podcast. Each episode is a fun chat with friends sharing personal experiences, insider tips, and riveting stories. The show is elevated by amazing guests from Youtubers, ultra marathoners, bloggers, and adventurers who bring their unique energy and perspectives to the table. With Chris and Sara, you're sure to feel a part of the group, ready to embark on a new adventure. Explore the world one story at a time and join the conversation today.
Hey y'all! We're Chris + Sara (or as you know us, Let’s Be Us), a husband and wife digital nomad travel duo currently working and traveling full time with our pup, Kramer. We've always dreamed of traveling full time, and in May of 2018 we took the leap and made it happen! Today we're balancing work and fun everywhere between the Pacific and Atlantic. From hiking and cycling to tacos and coffee, we're trying to see and experience as much of this world as we can! While our home is currently on wheels in our DIY Sprinter van, our travels take us all around the world.Be sure to hit subscribe here on Youtube and follow along on Instagram for more daily fun! Oh, and be sure to say hi while you're here. :)
NOTE: There were 3 speakers identified in this transcript. Podium recommends using "Find and Replace" to change the speaker label to the appropriate name. Speaker separation errors can arise when multiple speakers speak simultaneously.
0:00:00 - Sara
Today is a special one for us.
0:00:05 - Chris
We get to talk to a friend that we don't normally get to talk to all the time.
0:00:09 - Sara
Yeah, his name is Paul Hurkman and there aren't that many people that know both of us. Prior to when we, prior to us, knowing each other, there's very few people who knew us. We did not go to the same schools or the same grew up in the same town or any of that kind of thing, but Paul Hurkman's one of those people who knows us.
0:00:24 - Chris
He was actually supposed to marry us And he ditched us And he ditched us And we confront him in this conversation because it eats at us every day.
0:00:35 - Sara
No, he doesn't, not really Paul's a great guy, but just to fill you in on who Paul is and what this episode is going to be about, Paul is the executive director of the nonprofit that Chris and I biked with when we biked across the country from Seattle to New York. That's actually how we met. So Paul's the executive director, and that whole experience biking across the country was really formative in how we live our lives and how we travel. We travel with less. We always. It really taught us about considering how our actions impact others, because our actions always have an impact, whether for good or for bad. A lot of these things that we learned on that trip eight years ago still impact us today, nine years ago. Oh my gosh, it's been nine years ago, a long time ago, anyway. So that tour was really formational and making us who we are. We learned a lot and continue to learn, but Paul is going to be really cool to talk to today because he sees people for people, no matter what your political or religious affiliation is.
Paul speaks a lot about how to be a responsible human how to consider others and actions that you take and really how to do whatever you're doing and to benefit others in the process.
And that's very much what our tour was about. Our bike tour was. We were giving up our time, our energy, our resources, our money, our comfort to benefit others, to raise funds and awareness for people who couldn't, didn't have a voice for themselves, and that's Paul and his entire family have actually dedicated their lives to being a voice to people who didn't don't have a voice, and so his view on helping others is just really interesting.
0:02:05 - Chris
Yeah, and so no matter if you're traveling domestically or internationally, we always want to travel with intentionality, and Paul is the best person to talk to about this. So, without further ado, let's just jump right into it. Paul, we're really excited that you're here, and I just can't wait to like joke around with you and Well, we invited him on first of all to talk about running across an entire state. That's true.
0:02:35 - Sara
But then we realized it could go a lot of different directions.
0:02:36 - Chris
Yeah Well, and he's done a lot more than running across a different state He's climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, is that right?
0:02:42 - Paul Hurkman
Yep, Kilimanjaro, that's correct, yeah, and he can tell Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:02:47 - Chris
So, Paul, thanks for being here, man.
0:02:49 - Paul Hurkman
Hey, i am really thrilled to be here, first of all just to be able to not only catch up with you guys, but you make me smile. I mean you always have when I knew you guys separately as two individual people and then coming together, so really everyone's just going to hear three friends talking and I hope it adds value.
0:03:09 - Chris
Absolutely. Well, we already have a bone to pick with you because you were supposed to marry us back in the day. And then you bailed on us, you bailed on us.
0:03:18 - Sara
I think it was to go speak at a kid's summer camp or something like that.
0:03:20 - Chris
Yeah, he doesn't even know. He did like that's, whatever event it was, he doesn't even remember.
0:03:25 - Paul Hurkman
But so publicly. I need to apologize, because here's the reason. Here's the reason why you ever look back on your life and go hey, i made a value call, but it was the wrong value call That was it wasn't it.
It was kind of at the cost of like, hey, I have to help this organization move forward and here's a great open door for that opportunity. But if people quit listening in the next minute, don't miss this point. Don't ever pick movements and potential future things over current relationships and friendships you have. It never works out And I will tell you, I have always regretted. I can picture. I can picture you guys posting your wedding up in that mountain and going I should be there, Like I want to be there.
0:04:09 - Sara
So we've forgiven you, just so you know. Yeah, yeah, i mean.
0:04:12 - Paul Hurkman
I mean we still talk about it every night. But yeah, we can do the whole. It could be a reconciliation podcast, right, and apparently the person that officiated your wedding did a great job, because you guys have been thriving ever since. I'm sure it's not perfect, but y'all still like each other, you can tell most days, most days most days, yeah, made it seven years.
0:04:38 - Sara
Seven years this June. I can't believe it which means I was thinking about it. I actually first met venture in you 10 years ago this year, which is like blown my mind. I cannot believe it's been 10 years. Yeah, and how many years has it been for you?
0:04:51 - Chris
It's been a while. I mean probably 12 or 13 years, Yeah.
0:04:57 - Sara
We need to jump back and explain what venture is Yeah, let's like do you want to do that first? Explain what venture is.
0:05:01 - Paul Hurkman
Yeah, absolutely So. Venture is a nonprofit and, depending on which population of people that we're talking about, we may we may say we're a humans rights organization that works with refugees and anti trafficking initiatives, specifically in Southeast Asia. We're also a faith based organization And so our mission statement is we do tough things for people in tough places as a response to the gospel, because our faith informs those things to us. What that actually looks like is that we work in some of the toughest places on the planet war, refugees, places where there's over oppression and injustices And we we work with international partners in those areas that were born and raised. They understand the situation, They understand the complexity and we address human trafficking, refugee crisis, extreme poverty and oppression. We partner with local leaders and we come up with solutions, solutions that they come up with and we come alongside of them. So things like feeding programs, safety, safe houses, farming programs, we do, when appropriate, share our faith, and then the kind of special sauce The reason that I met y'all was then we come back state side and we engage people, not just for people who feel bad or want to write a check, but we're really interested in people who are motivated and driven towards the epic towards leaning into a life that they hear the whisper of adventure.
They don't want to do status quo and they're trying to figure out what that looks like moving forward, and one of those ways is through our miles based program. So, like y'all, bike across the country, climb a mountain, run across states. That is one aspect of what we do. I'll pause there because you're supposed to have like a 30 minute or 30 second elevator pitch and I'm at about a minute and a half.
So, I'm going to be friends over.
0:07:01 - Sara
Just go, you're fine. Chris is a great editor, but no, seriously, you're fine.
0:07:06 - Chris
Well, I mean, let's go ahead.
0:07:07 - Sara
And because that I mean like.
0:07:09 - Chris
Sara and I we met on a bicycling trip across America, and the entire focus of that trip was to raise awareness and funds for refugees in Burma and Thailand.
And and yeah and so that's how we met And that's how venture sort of got started right, like leading these trips and kind of pushing your body, doing hard things, you know, and and having a really cool story. So is there, i would love for you to like talk about that, like about because I mean you yourself you've ran across Minnesota for a cause, you've climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for a cause. What is it about? like putting your body through all of this heartache and and just trouble, that makes a good story.
0:08:00 - Paul Hurkman
Man, i actually like how you framed the question, because a lot of times people ask what is running have to do with helping people in need, but what you talked about really opens the door to the deeper understanding of what we're at least trying to do, and that is what is running and sacrificing your body on behalf of other people. What does it have to do with a better story? So, again, my faith informs me that the way that I live should invite people to a better existence than they're seeing around them. It's not telling somebody they're bad or good, or heaven or hell, but first and foremost it's this idea that there is a voice inside of us whispering that you can do and be and experience life in a deeper way.
So the idea of biking across the country on behalf of people is this idea that physical sacrifice, specifically in the context of community, when we are at our end, when we are creating space and pushing ourself to the end on behalf of other people, within the context of other people, is the greatest crucible for life change, because you find out where your starts and stops are and then you find right. Next to you is somebody that can help you right. Where you stop might be the very place where they can help, and so when you have that, there are deep connections. Not everybody gets married. Our tagline used to be benefit the world, discover your soul.
And soul mate And when it's folks like you benefit the world, discover your soul mate. Okay, i thought that's where you're going. We were not the first. I believe we're up to four or five people that have gotten married, that have been on tours.
0:09:37 - Sara
I know at least two other couples Wow.
0:09:39 - Paul Hurkman
Yeah, Crazy, And even more than that that have gotten married within the community because you understand something maybe not a whole lot different than if you go to camp with someone for a long time And there's just those moments where you're getting out of your normal routine and doing something that pushes you. And then we add that last piece of physical sacrifice on behalf of other people. So when you're at your end, but you're at your end because you deeply feel the opportunity and the responsibility to help other people, Well, that's a turning point And I think, intuitively, we all kind of know that if we would all push and give a little bit more on behalf of other people, we would arrive at that better version of ourselves and our community.
0:10:26 - Sara
You said two things. I actually. I first got involved with venture when I was in college And like most college kids, i didn't have any money to give, but I was aware of these causes that were important, like human trafficking And there are refugees in Southeast Asia that I had no idea it was the longest running civil war And I didn't have money to give, but I was introduced to the idea that I could do something with my body, which I'm by no means an athlete but I was able to give up a summer and bike and use that as raising awareness, because people heard I was biking across the country And it was just this whole new idea, like it grabbed their attention. And then, on top of that for me at least I got to go on two tours. The first one I didn't know Chris, he wasn't on that one but the second one he was. But both tours were about 16 people And it was the hardest and also best form of community I've ever experienced.
I just do see each other in a really I don't know really close-knit way, and this is I want to say this People always ask how on earth did you live in a van with your spouse? And we always say, like well, if we can do what we did with Venture and bike across the country together in Spandex for two months, we can live in a van.
0:11:28 - Chris
That was the worst. We lived in Rubbermaids for two months And we had a trailer that dragged all our stuff but we biked and then, yeah, we looked the best and the worst in front of each other for for what? 60 days or something.
0:11:40 - Paul Hurkman
Yeah, and so in the Venture community. What we want to know, what we want to put to rest is were you all kissing on that tour? That's what, that's what, and you guys have never given me a straight answer. So I believe that you were a leader.
0:11:56 - Chris
Yeah, I was a leader.
0:11:57 - Sara
We were good. We were good.
0:12:00 - Paul Hurkman
Okay, and this is that vague answer that you guys give a leader. Good, so I guess we'll leave it there, but when I interview you on my podcast, i'm going to expect a straightforward answer.
0:12:12 - Sara
You may or may not get it.
0:12:14 - Chris
I plead the fifth. There's nothing, nothing happened, nothing to know, and hand check, hand check.
0:12:22 - Sara
Definitely the summer camp counselor thing. That's what everybody says. They're like oh, you were at camp counselors And yeah, we definitely were, Yeah.
0:12:28 - Chris
So let's, let's talk about, like you, running across Minnesota. You yourself did that, like, because I feel like I'm, as a director for Venture, you're asking people from around the country to do crazy things. But you yourself said, okay, i'm going to. If I'm going to ask somebody, i'm going to do it too. And so you ran across Minnesota and then you've also hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. Is there, are there any other like physical endurances that you, you have done in the last couple of years? or for Venture?
0:13:01 - Paul Hurkman
Yeah, so kind of a very quick tick list. That run across Minnesota was my first longterm thing. I also biked from Joplin to Tuscaloosa when the tornadoes hit And we were raising we actually raised money to build two different homes, one in each city. I have biked the coast of California, did that in partnership with another nonprofit called Love Does. It Does Great Work all around the world. Most recently, pre COVID was my last big thing and we hiked to Everest Base Camp. Now I'm going to slow that down. We hiked to Everest Base Camp, the lowest point of the highest mountain, not the highest point of the highest mountain, but to Base Camp. Okay, all right, it's kind of the list of things.
0:13:42 - Sara
Are we able to join in on that one? Is that still happening?
0:13:45 - Paul Hurkman
Yeah, we, we will continue to do that We. Nepal is probably the area where we do some of the most international work. Besides, besides the Thai-Myanmar border, which y'all did a great thing, you don't know how many people don't even know to say Myanmar and Burma, and I know you said no, we say it this way. Well it's, it's a complicated issue, but yeah, so we do a lot of work in Nepal and we, our team is there, our international team being people from the West going over there at least three or four times a year, and then we hike about every other year for that.
0:14:22 - Chris
What is it about you putting like a story out there or you know, doing these physical activities, raising awareness, Like what is it that gets people involved or what's so catchy about it?
0:14:36 - Paul Hurkman
Well, I liked, Sara, what you said. By the way, Sara, if I can remember, you were George University of Georgia, right? Oh yeah, go dogs. So congratulations on incredible football success. Since then, thank you As a as a Packer fan, we have retained many of your athletes in their second profession, But that's not why we're talking. Chris is like please don't encourage her.
0:15:00 - Chris
We've lost the podcast now. Now it's a University of Georgia football podcast.
0:15:06 - Paul Hurkman
Yeah, i do like what y'all said. One of the things about the things that Venture offers for folks to do is, i mean, let's be honest, a handful of our community look really great in spandex And the rest of us have no business putting on the spandex, buying the bike, putting on the running shoes. When I ran across the state of Minnesota and, to be clear, i ran east to west, which is a smart way, not north to south. East to west is 200 miles, north to south is like 600. And we right now, as we are taping this, have a high schooler that's running 600 miles north to south to fight human trafficking with Venture. But there is something, especially for those people who it's not their normal thing. It grabs people's attention. Go wait, why are you doing that? So it's a level of inspiring.
When people come to Venture and participate, we usually say they come by us in one of three ways Jesus, justice or spandex. And what I mean by that is, hey, the Jesus part. We've got a lot of people that are driven by their faith not everybody, but a chunk The justice piece. We are unapologetically addressing systemic injustices in parts of the world where girls are being pre-sold when they're in utero. They are being picked up when they're 9, 10, and 11. And all of humanity, less just a very, very few people believe that is a heinous evil and we want to do something about it. Venture allows that. I think, Sara, you alluded to that. And then the third one is spandex. We have some people that love miles and they want to make their miles matter. Well, they all converge in these experiences.
I would be one of those people that I came by it through the justice piece. My faith doesn't form it, but the reason why I get up and when I have done running across the state or at one point I take together quite a few days in a row of running without stopping It wasn't because I believe in runner high. In fact, i think that's a lie. I think people who say they have a runner's high they're lying to the rest of us. I don't love running, but I love the discipline. I would like to live a life that moves from lazy to something else and then from status quo to something else, and my hope in my very immediate circle that some of the things I do inspires my kids and that all of that then brings life change. I just want to leave the place better than I found it.
0:17:39 - Sara
For sure. I was actually going to ask how has working with Venture and doing all the expeditions that you've done, how has that impacted your family? I mean, are your kids starting to do it? I mean, how old are your kids now?
0:17:50 - Paul Hurkman
So we've more than doubled our kids since the last time we were in the same space. It seems like I have five kids now Wow, 17, 14, eight, seven and four.
Our bigs are biological, our littles are adopted. We're county foster care providers And you ask how this, actually the work that we do, has informed my family. I honestly don't know that we would have gotten into foster care and then adoption, which is another whole thing, because but I don't know that we would have done that without the work of Venture. There is something about Doing work that you get paid to do and then asking yourself, in fact, the question my wife and I asked it Who are we when we're not paid to do justice work Like what's the justice work in our community that were to be a part of? we chose foster care, had no idea would end up in adoption. But now you know, now we're a family of five, or sorry, a family of seven with with five kids.
But but to your question, my boy is 14 years old and he just ran his first sub six mile. He's in track, he's done cross-country and Nordic skiing and track and he runs attached to the varsity program. He's a middle schooler and just ran his first sub six and then later this month He's gonna run his first half marathon. My daughter has run two half marathons and then kind of quit my oldest daughter and She keeps saying she's gonna do the marathon this year, but she hasn't actually run, so we'll see about that. I Just done quite a bit as well, but it's a little bit of a family affair. I don't know that any of us love it. I actually don't know if any of us love running but we all see the connection Not just to justice, but also just living a disciplined life and moving from lazy status quo to hopefully something else first, why can't leave your kids about old makes me feel old because I think they were.
0:19:46 - Chris
I'm four years old when we first never justice like I remember filming a video clip of you and justice running and. You guys are like holding hands and he's I mean.
0:19:57 - Sara
Yeah, he's like four.
0:19:58 - Chris
He's probably three inches tall. He's super small.
0:20:00 - Sara
I can't believe that. If he is tallest you, i just have to ask this off the record.
0:20:04 - Paul Hurkman
He's a little bit shorter than me, but he is the second toss. He's taller than Candice or Lola and, by the way, that video that you caught, Chris, is probably My favorite. You know three to four second clip In all of film history. So thank, see him run like man. What a treat.
0:20:24 - Sara
So thank you for catching that. You kind of already answered this, but I wanted to ask And if this isn't, if this doesn't happen, we can just cut it out But is venture doing anything stateside to impact? you know, the oppression here I mean I know you, your per, your family personally is like with foster care and adoption. Is there anything that venture as a whole is doing for justice stateside, like in their own community? Okay, yeah, actually a couple of different things.
0:20:49 - Paul Hurkman
I'll just give one example, one of the movements. So when, when we all met with venture, we primarily we're putting on centralized tours, biking across the country, running across states. But you had to come through us, you had to do our thing. We planned it, executed it and you all put the spandex on right Over as we have morphed or developed, what we found was Other people dream better than we do, and when they dream about a movement, a thing that they want to do, like One guy was turning 30.
He decided I'm gonna run 30 miles, i'm gonna get 30, my friends to run 30 miles and fight human trafficking, because every 30 seconds somebody is traffic. And he came to us and said, hey, could you help out him? like we got you right Six years late. His first year He didn't get 30 people, he got 72 people. He didn't raise 30,000. He raised over 80,000. In six years later He's raised Like 1.6 million dollars, completely voluntary driven, besides the work that we say powered by venture.
And so one of those other movements that we've had is called fathers for the father loose. It's a guy who does a podcast called dad awesome. His name is Jeff Sog and he wanted to not only empower dads through his words, but give them an opportunity to engage. So they help people train and ride for their first century ride, which is a hundred miles, which you all have done many, many times. But in these movements for fathers, the fatherless, not only are they helping dads live an epic life, but they're also raising funds, both international and then every individual city, because we've got these rides in six cities. They get to pick a local nonprofit that wrestles with fatherlessness. So foster care, adoption, family resourcing it could be shelters. Those are the things. So we, while we are primarily and I'm talking 98% of what we do is international, what we do, is we do, is we do it in a way that's not just a public. What we want to do is, hopefully, encourage people to figure out what it means for them to engage in justice wherever they're at.
0:23:00 - Chris
You said something earlier about the, the things that you do internationally, working with the locals there. Why? why is that important? because I know some nonprofits. They go in, they drop a shipment of food, shoes, whatever, and then they're out and like maybe not working locally with the community there. So what? why? why is that important? or is that important to work with the local community on a International level?
0:23:26 - Paul Hurkman
You know the the little or a lot that I know about your followership. They are very savvy and so they already kind of know the answer, and I know I know you do as well. But it's important for us to talk about it because that immediately when you start talking, most of your listeners will say words like paternalism, colonialism. They'll talk about, um, toxic charity. This is by far the most informed Point in history about what helps and what hurts. It doesn't mean that we always do what helps. There are Quick things that you can do with a really good heart that are hurtful, and so what we have found is two things.
We are a very bad missions sending organizations, so sending people on mission to go do something. We are not equipped for all of the things that they need to do it in. But, far more importantly, in our global climate, no longer do we need somebody to come from here to take everything we've learned and and bequeath it right. We're not the, we're not the big, we're not the shiniest star on the planet. We know this, and so our job, what we feel called to do, one of our values is we don't judge, we don't join. So how other orgs do things, how other individuals. That's great, but for us, we see The kingdom in the hand of god working clearly On every place on the planet, and we just want to align with leaders that are, by very nature, more passionate about the welfare for their community than we could ever be, and we find them, we work with them, we follow their lead and we resource them.
As Americans in general, we have to steward our resources. That's what we have. I think we've been told we're the smartest. We don't have to steward that. In fact, maybe we should talk less. You know, i think of Hamilton talk less, listen more And and steward and recognize the leadership that's happening globally and come alongside of it, and so that that's our um, that's our motto that we found most effective.
0:25:30 - Sara
I mean, yeah, right, we already knew the answer, so I'm like making sure you're still on the same page. No, i yeah, that's so important to us is like empowering the locals where they're at too.
0:25:42 - Chris
0:25:43 - Sara
Yeah, that's just. I mean, I think venture was the first place that I ever learned. Well, I don't know. I mean, yeah, I guess I saw it in action really well there.
0:25:49 - Paul Hurkman
So it definitely impacted our lives and we're can I answer A question that you didn't ask our? our next step that we're trying to do so there is. There are steps. This We're smart. Let me tell you how smart we are. We're going to tell you what to do and you do it. That's one step. We you know. I think we should all step away from that and go In. Our next step is you're smart. You know what you're doing. How can I help you?
The third step that we are trying to do is you're smart. You know things we don't. Can I take what we're learning from you and bring it back over here? And so another one of our values is learning from the, from the global church, from our global leaders, As opposed to always being exporting not just exporting food, exporting safety, exporting money but what are we importing? Because if we're only exporting and we're not importing, then it's not a relationship, Then that does get towards colonialism, paternalism. But if we're importing, then we're in a relationship. Then we're saying I see that you have something that I don't and I'd really like to learn from that, And when I learn from it, then I'd like to share that with my community here as well.
0:26:56 - Chris
Most people have this feeling that they want to do something, they want to give back. If you ask somebody on the street, you're like, hey, do you want to be a good person? They're like, yeah, i gave $5 to Salvation Army or whatever. There's this part of us that wants to help other people, but then a lot of us we don't take action or it never comes to the forefront of our minds. And so is there any good practice or best practices of what's a good first step for somebody to you know what I need to focus or help somebody else and then move forward? Does that make sense?
0:27:33 - Paul Hurkman
Yeah, absolutely. I wish I had an airtight answer, but I'm going to tell you what was going through my head while you were talking. I saved, kind of did the right click thing and screen captured a Facebook ad, probably eight years ago And it was from the UN, and the ad was clicking like on. Facebook has saved exactly zero people from polio in the history of the world, and it was. But giving some money can save lives from polio, and it was a for me. It was a very effective campaign.
And so there is a progression of going from feeling bad for people or situations, which is a good starting point, but most people don't meet our pity right, i think. Then we let's observe why we're feeling what we're feeling, and it tells us as much about our humanity as somebody else's bad situation. So, going from moving, usually the next is clicking and then giving you know in our digital space. I'm going to click, i'm going to somehow show you that I'm responding and resonating, and giving is the next one. But there is a whole other world that just don't believe the lie that that your resources, your finances are the only thing that you can do, because you can step into things And most of the time when you are feeling something deeply, it's an indicator to do two things. First of all, have a have a mirror come up. I always think of the Jetsons, which was an old cartoon, this, this future cartoon And when he would get ready he'd be on a conveyor belt in a mirror which shoot up. So when we're feeling things, have a mirror, shoot up and go what is this telling me about me right now And what? and pay attention to that and then become a sociologist. You will see sociologists look at patterns and they comment on patterns. They're not trying to create, they're trying to comment on patterns. So watch those patterns and you'll find out. Oh, i care deeply about this issue. And once you identify I care deeply about the issue, you're going to be able to hear Org's doing good things or opportunities for you to do good things.
One time I I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and one of the greatest cities on the planet called us as well But and I was driving and there was a, a young lady in the middle of the road on a divided highway with a sign which usually indicates she's having a worse day than I am. She maybe is temporarily, doesn't have a place to stay, and I went to grab some money out of my hand, rolled down the window, gave the money and I kept driving and I looked at my wife. I'm like her lucky day. I only had a 20. And I started tearing up And I said, what am I saying Her lucky day? she doesn't have a place to live. I had a 20 and I'm celebrating myself for giving a 20, like her lucky day.
And that was where the mirror came up and said oh, pay attention to who's the center of the story that you're writing, because it might not be you, it might should be her, or the things that are happening in your life. And so you ask for some practical things, one of the reasons why we do more accessible. So you guys did all the epic with venture, right, we talked about that, the. We talked about the epic, but then we also talked about the on ramp or the entry. And so it's why that people raise money through five Ks And you go. Why would people give money to somebody who does a five K? Well, because it's their, it's their on, it's their on ramp, it's their entry. They're doing something there.
And here's the phrase to actually get to the answer that you were asking, Chris, is do something to interrupt your life. If you are only letting things fit in, if it's only coming out of your coffee money, if it's only coming out of it because you already like to run a five-kit, if it's only doing it because you like your church and you're doing it through your church, those are all great reasons. But the best stories happen when we interrupt our life, when we literally stretch our budget, stretch our finance. We find the space in our time. We get up early to run the race. We give up our summer to bike across the country. We orient our life. We decide to have one less room in our house and buy a six bedroom instead of a seven bedroom, so that we have capacity to respond to need and you don't have to know what that need is yet. But you create space so you're ready to respond.
0:31:57 - Chris
Yeah, i think it's funny because when we were writing for Venture, we were writing for that certain cause for people in Thailand and Burma and Myanmar At that moment in our lives we hadn't we really hadn't traveled all that much internationally and then fast forward a couple of years. One of the very first trips, in fact that we did as a married couple was going to Thailand and going to the projects that you were, the locations of, where Venture was located and how they were helping the locals there, and we finally got to see like an actual face with the cause, because a lot of times when you're running or you're bicycling or whatever you're doing, you're raising money, it's more of a number than a person and then on the flip side, so we were able to see like your entire progress as a nonprofit. we saw the part where you're raising money and then we saw where the money was implemented and that's such a beautiful thing. And I think now where we're at personally, we travel quite a bit. We showcase everything on YouTube and we try not to be those tourists going into locations, exploiting a place and then leaving. We wanna leave it better than we found it and so for people who are like traveling to.
We just got back from Mexico and we were in the Cancun area and that's where a lot of people go for vacation and that's all people know. They know the beach and they know maybe some good tacos, but they don't know the other side of like what's happening five streets down. And so is there anything that you would say for people who are traveling? when they go to a location? maybe a lot of people when they're traveling, they wanna go on vacation, they don't wanna think, they don't want this to be a part of why they're there. But I think and maybe you-.
0:33:51 - Sara
Yeah, i agree, we are forever changed from what we saw in Thailand and Burma, Myanmar. But not everybody gets to see that full circle and we recognize that. But I think that we'd like to make people more aware of your actions have an effect on others and the choices you make when you're traveling. Somebody will win or lose from your decision. So is that what you're going to have?
0:34:14 - Chris
Yeah, no, but I'm just wondering if, if somebody were to come to you today and say hey, I'm traveling to this location, are there any other practical steps doing, like visiting internationally, like while you're on vacation, or I mean? this may be a stupid question, I don't know, I know what that is. We can cut it out, Yeah yeah, yeah so, but is there anything that you would say to people who like traveling internationally, if they really wanna see the whole scope of a place like how do we do that?
0:34:41 - Paul Hurkman
I'm gonna stop in. First of all, thank you guys for who you are, because I've been following who you are for a long time and we're just we're such a blip on the courageous life that you've chosen from, from Vans to travel to Sara, to you actually marrying Chris. You know all of its courageous Yeah. And then the kind of content that you're putting out into the world has the opportunity to make it better. And I will tell you, venture is better because you're part of the community and those kids are better. You left them better than you came. And so my starting point I don't know if it's the direct answer, but if somebody asked me that the first thing I would say is you have to, before you go, decide what kind of human you wanna be. Because if you don't do that, if we don't keep reminding ourselves who we want to be, we're going to just be who everybody else is. And there is a reason that there is a stereotype of, i'm gonna say, Americans, but every group of people has a stereotype of what they're like when they go someplace else. Right, yes, they do. And so if you are fine, being that, great. But if you're asking the kinds of what I would say is deeper questions that you're asking. You have to start by saying who do I wanna be? And if I wanna be that person, then there are things I can do and I can't do. The second thing, and we'll get to those.
The second thing is what do I think about other people? Honestly, do I believe that they are the same as me or worse than me? Do I think that they, i deserve to live here and they deserve to live there? Or are we humans sharing this ball, which I know can sound a little too? people see the long hair and the glass and they're like that's a little too hippie for me. But I mean, i know you're followership, so I think that's quite a lot. What I mean by that is we have to decide where we're at in the pecking order, or maybe if there shouldn't be a pecking order, and so then, when we travel, we can value getting to know people and culture as much as we do the best restaurant. We can value the work ethic of the people that may be serving the different places.
Where we go, where we choose to go, how we choose to get there, whether you're a first class or back of a bus or a plane or whatever that every human has individual value And that is something that at least in the documents of our country's origin and I know you guys reached past this origin it says that we're all equal.
But how we live that out if we really believe that, not every place that we go do they believe that, either because of their sociopolitical, their religious or their familial backgrounds, they don't all believe that We have an opportunity to just extend dignity and value. I will tell you two very practical things look people in the eye and then ask questions and practice saying things that make you that might make you not in a position of authority. So practicing in somebody's language, asking questions, being teachable, vulnerable Those are all things. Now there's a whole list of things in another podcast that we could all talk about, because we've traveled in incredibly impoverished agrarian societies that are very different, and that's another whole level of things. I know you guys do this, we do this. We have a whole policy on everything from how we take pictures, how we tell stories, how we post, how we talk. We are very, we want to be very thoughtful about those in a way that protects and adds dignity and invites other people to see humanity as brothers and sisters.
0:38:24 - Sara
Yeah, that's really important to me. That's one of my biggest peeps is actually like and we use our cameras all the time of giving the people dignity just in front of the lens of? am I making them look too impoverished? Am I like are? would they be proud of this photo if I showed it to a million people? Like, that's really important to us. So I'm not the one who always do it perfectly, but that's one thing I've taken away learned. This is kind of off topic. Have you ever read the book? When Helping Hurts? Absolutely Yeah. I was wondering if you love what you're saying. Sounds like it.
0:38:52 - Paul Hurkman
You know when helping hurts toxic charity. You kind of have to at least know the talking points.
0:38:56 - Sara
Yeah, i was saying this sounds very familiar.
0:39:00 - Paul Hurkman
We are by far not just generationally, but we're at a point in history and time where people are absolutely the most educated, at least on the talking points. They might not be practicing it and they may often weaponize the latest thing they read to sound smart. but yeah, absolutely, it was one of the first things and I've read it multiple times.
0:39:24 - Sara
Yeah, yeah, we need. We thought about having them on the podcast to actually try to get one of them.
0:39:28 - Chris
They're one of them's based here in Chattanooga.
0:39:30 - Paul Hurkman
Both of them are actually, Or both of them.
0:39:32 - Chris
I guess they live here in Chattanooga.
0:39:34 - Paul Hurkman
0:39:35 - Sara
We could take this off the record. But what is Venture's future? I mean, like I know you guys are doing like a lot of local kind of stuff now And I'll be honest, my biggest thing with Venture right now is I don't feel like there's a lot to get involved in the community, Like we don't have a community of Venture people here and there's not even anymore bike rides anymore besides the 100 mile one. Is that gonna come back one day or?
0:39:56 - Paul Hurkman
Honestly, it's my biggest beef too, yeah, and it is as we continue to be able to resource more and more internationally. So over the last 10 years, we've raised about $60 million, you know.
0:40:14 - Chris
That's amazing Yeah.
0:40:15 - Paul Hurkman
Isn't that crazy. And we provided 60 million meals, rescued a thousand girls, and when I say we, again our international partners, right, but honestly, it's been a little bit at the expense of the slow work of building community. It really has been. And so we are talking about how we create regional hubs again. But how do we do that? Resisting the urge to just create them, to just have them be regional development hubs that raise money for said project, and trying to figure out. For a lot of people, including myself and I think you guys, we were a third space People who felt kind of intention between what they see in the I'm just gonna say the world, right, not serve yourself, but you first And maybe what they saw in an upbringing from their family or their church and they're like that's not quite it, But man, a community of people that just wanna, just wanna do something epic for people in need.
I can sign up for that right, and so we are diligently trying to figure that out Now in our individual movements. They do have that. So the fathers for the fatherless ride every city that they go in. We have a whole path for engagement on and how to stay involved Our Venture Miles app, and this is where you will probably have to delete this whole part of it. But our Venture Miles app, that's the next thing that we're thinking about. How can we create user generated content in community to not only find one another, but to stay connected either geographically or by heart passion, i can tell you we have. I have spent with our advisory board the last six meetings we meet monthly trying to figure out this component of hey, we've gotten really good at this stuff And we're talking about this idea of a venture life, that gritty thing that y'all signed up for. How do we highlight and connect those people again? So it's front of mind, i don't have an answer. So if you guys do, no, No, we don't have an answer.
0:42:21 - Sara
I was just curious what the tours are ever gonna come back Like. I mean, is that something you guys would ever do? Yes, sorry, no, i mean this is great.
0:42:30 - Paul Hurkman
With those movements. What we've told people is if you, if you, if that's your dream to have happened, we will help make that happen. But we will never go all the way back to us, us doing it and us organizing it and us marketing it and us recruiting and bringing.
0:42:46 - Chris
0:42:48 - Paul Hurkman
But what we will do is we'll partner with people in our community and we'll say if you wanna do it and you wanna get 10 people to go across the country, you get five and that'll show us. We'll put the rest of the work in. Does that make sense? I think so, yeah.
0:43:01 - Chris
No, yeah, absolutely, Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, no, that makes sense.
0:43:03 - Sara
Okay, that's good to hear It's still around its own capacity.
0:43:05 - Chris
Yeah, it is.
0:43:06 - Sara
Yeah. So if people wanna get involved with Venture or learn more about it, where can they? if they, this is the first thing they've ever heard about engaging physically and giving back to some of the world's harshest conditions where can they start? Like, is it with y'all Two places?
0:43:20 - Paul Hurkman
Okay, Venture.org is a website, right, and so it's. I mean again, you guys have informed people. It's gonna read like almost every other org. You may find nuance that you really like A lot of how the three of us connected were through VentureMiles, and we have an app and a website for that as well. That is kind of making your miles matter. And then I'll just say my email is paulatventureorg and we are not looking for everybody, but we are looking for more Sara and Chris's. We're looking for people.
0:43:53 - Chris
That's an interesting task.
0:43:55 - Paul Hurkman
That either want or are actually leaving spaces better than they found them. We are unashamedly, a faith-based organization, but we welcome anybody who is on a journey to try to really see the world, address injustices, respond to those injustices and then let that inform them about how their maker made their soul.
0:44:20 - Chris
Paul, thank you so much for coming on here. I know this is something that's near and dear to our hearts, just because I mean, one, we met through Venture, but two, we do like we care about the people that we're becoming and we try to be better and we try to both physically, spiritually, mentally, everything across the board, And so we just appreciate you kind of laying it out and, yeah, tapping that part for us, because I think it's been a while since We haven't been able to talk Venture in a long time.
0:44:50 - Sara
This is fun I mean it introduces Venture, introduces us to a whole different side of things, and if we can introduce other people to it, i'd be happy, that'd be great Well thank you.
0:44:59 - Paul Hurkman
I'm super honored. We, with zero sarcasm or extreme nature, we talk about y'all often. You're kind of. You're some of our favorite people. I just was talking with Erin I don't know if it was this week or the week before our mutual friend who is living with his family in Thailand, about key people that have been key in the story, and that's y'all. And I will tell whosoever listening if this makes the cut of Chris's expert editing that you are following and listening to two incredible people that are better when the camera's off than even when it's on. You're the real deal. I'm proud of you, Thank you, and anything I can do to serve y'all would be my honor, even though I didn't marry y'all.
0:45:45 - Sara
We forgive you.
0:45:46 - Chris
finally, We're gonna leave that in the podcast, because we need all the good reviews we can get.
0:45:51 - Sara
Thank you, paul. We really appreciate all you've done for us and just being here, so thank you so much. Blessings, love y'all. Thanks for listening to what no one tells you with Chris and Sara. If you have a comment or question that you want answered on the air, be sure to send us a message to hello at chrisandsaracom, or you can call or text our phone number at 423-825-9572. Thanks for listening.
#travel #travelpodcast #Adventure #Service #Sacrifice #CommunityImpact #PhysicalEndurance #JusticeWork #LocalEngagement #EmpoweringLeaders #AvoidingToxicCharity #TravelingWithPurpose #PhysicalSacrifice #LocalLeaders #Humility #Respect #Dignity #Biking #Running #Hiking #MountKilimanjaro #Venture #VentureExpeditions