Friday, July 17, 2015

HOPE RUNS...A Reflection on Running in Africa

Here's a piece I wrote for our incoming class of new students at CU this fall as they read our summer book HOPE RUNS, a remarkable story about orphans, adoption, running, and incredible love in AFRICA...

One of my favorite moments and memories in life has occurred on a dirt road in a hidden Zambian village...a moment that's been repeated several times where some beautiful and energetic kids come running at the little mini-bus lurching down this bumpy path. They come running with smiles out of their homes and their voices yell greetings with energy and excitement as they recognize my face running alongside our vehicle. In that moment, I am loved, I am welcomed, and I am filled with hope...

When I first read HOPE RUNS these images of kids running in Kakolo Village, Zambia popped into my head. I loved the story Claire and Sammy tell of how God connected them and had their worlds and lives intersect in a surprising and life-changing way. And I loved reading how a similar interest like running was a huge factor in drawing them together. Soccer has been my own running connection with so many of my friends in Zambia, and our mutual love for a beautiful game has often led us to deeper and even more meaningful shared experiences and connections. I've come away convinced that often times God will take something we love and use it as a tool for more than just our own enjoyment. I have pictures all over my office of soccer fields in Zambia that remind me of how God does this sort of thing all the time in our lives.

More than anything, reading this story reminded me of how ultimately we grow the most and experience the best God has for us when we enter into His story and fully engage in a personal and long term way with the people and issues He brings into our lives. Claire's decisions to stay for a year, to come back many times, and ultimately to adopt are the choices that convinced the African kids that she truly valued and loved them...and they were the means by which she truly became a different human being, one who cared more about the things her God cared most about in this world.

The first time I drove into the Kakolo Village community in Zambia hardly any kids ran out of their huts to come greet our vehicle. We were strangers who looked different and whose purpose in visiting their village was a mystery. After several visits and years of getting to know one another and playing soccer, sitting in classrooms, and running together on the dirt roads of Africa, things were totally different. We shouted each other's names out the bus window, they sprinted across fields to intercept our vehicle, and we walked out to hugs and special handshakes. And as we leave after a day of learning and fun and singing and dancing, our beautiful African children often run for up to a mile chasing the vehicle leaving their community. And I believe for both of us there is hope for the future when we will meet again because of what God is doing and through us all, even in the midst of extreme poverty and seeming hopelessness.

My prayer is that your time at CU will help you discover your passions and provide opportunities to connect them to God's people and the issues we face in our world...and that you are inspired to make a great run for a lifetime serving Jesus with HOPE and JOY...

Excited to run together with you during your time at CU and hope to see you at our 5K RUN,


p.s. I'd love to have some of you jump on our African bus someday on one of our trips to can read more at:


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