Greenfield couple sets off on yearlong mission to world's poorest nations

Chris and Margeaux Cronce
Chris and Margeaux Cronce
| Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

A Greenfield couple soon will leave on a missionary trip that will take them to the poorest regions of 11 countries in 11 months.

Christopher and Margeaux Cronce plan to participate in World Race, a program that started in 2006 and sends volunteers to Third World and other countries where they partner with ministries that care for orphans, offer medical care and food, and help women freed from slavery to develop job skills.

The Cronces plan to travel to Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam, Botswana, Swaziland and two other countries to be determined. They'll train at World Race's headquarters in Gainesville, Ga., leave to pursue their mission on Sept. 1, and return in August 2015.

“Margeaux and I have been thinking about The World Race for years,” said Christopher Cronce, 27. “We are kind of dropping everything we've been building all these years and following that whisper in the heart that told us there was something more we needed to do.”

Each World Race route includes different countries, said Bill Swan, one of the program's directors.

About 300 people are leaving on trips to a variety of countries this summer, with 50 to 60 in the Cronces' group. They'll be broken into groups as small as six volunteers, said Kyle Dennard, World Race marketing director.

“These participants will experience life with the poorest of poor,” Dennard said. “They can expect a transformation in the way they view themselves and the world.”

The program reaches about 50 countries in Asia, southern and eastern Africa, Central and South America and Eastern Europe.

The Cronces, who met when they were students at Messiah College in Harrisburg, moved out of their apartment in recent weeks and visited family members and friends before going to World Race's headquarters. Both recently finished work on master's degrees.

“Instead of paying for an entire month's rent, we decided we could use that money to not work in August” and spend time with loved ones, Margeaux Cronce, 26, said.

“We also wanted August to be a month of reflection and a time to spiritually and mentally prepare for the lifestyle change,” she said.

The Cronces paid $16,000 each to cover expenses for the World Race. Two fundraisers — a burger promotion at Wingharts restaurant near Westmoreland Mall, and a karaoke night at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland — covered part of the cost.

“This entire process has taught me that people can be so selfless,” Christopher Cronce said.

They are aware of the risks — malaria is risk in some of the regions they will visit.

Swan said World Race chooses countries based on whether ministries are there to partner with, and whether it can make an impact there. But the organization also gauges safety and available medical care. The couple will live in a tent.

“Everything we need for the year will be 55 pounds on our backs,” Christopher Cronce said. “We were told to pack clothes for one week, even though we will be out there for 11 months.

“People need help abroad. It's a rewarding process. Our whole lives and perspectives will change for the better.”

Cecilia Lyons, Margeaux's mother, said though she didn't support the World Race plan at first, her daughter and son-in-law studied the organization and its mission work extensively over the past four years.

“Few people are called to do this kind of work. I'm so proud of them,” said Lyons, of Latrobe.

Swan said he's pleased when married couples “step out together and follow Christ in a radical way. We are excited that they are willing to leave the comfort and security of their lives.”

Chasity Capasso is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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