It's probably been a year and half now since I first heard of As Our Own. My sister's pastor and his wife are on the board and AOO's founder had come to speak at their church. My sister told me all about it and shortly thereafter, I saw on twitter, a half marathon raising funds for As Our Own. I read all about it. I emailed links to my friends. I even felt called in a way to do it. But I didn't. Not then. I don't even remember why... Oh yeah, because I really hated to run. I needed the weather to be absolutely perfect to make it even tolerable.
Running in my past had always been something I wanted to be good at, but just wasn't... that I wanted to enjoy but just didn't. Running was what I did when I was punishing myself, because I didn't like my body and wanted it to be smaller, or when trying to be someone I wasn't. And so, I resolved myself to be "not a runner." I could teach Zumba. I could be good at yoga. I could love kick boxing. But runner, I am not.
But I continued to follow As Our Own. I was drawn in. Connected. Called. And then the tweet appeared in my feed- the Dallas Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon series now offers a 2 person relay. Half of a half marathon. Maybe, just maybe I could do that... 1st leg ran for 7 miles and 2nd leg for 6.1. I really wanted to do it. I wanted to prove to myself that I could accomplish an actual, for real race, and I believed in AOO. Brilliant marketers said "Will you run for her?" And I thought, if I am willing to run for anything ever in my life, it's this.
I texted 3 friends who had just run a 5K in our town figuring they'd be the mostly likely to join me, and they all said yes! This worked great because then 2 people could run the first leg together and 2 could run the 2nd leg together. Marsha lives in my neighborhood and we could train together. Dona and Adrielle work out together anyway, so this would be perfect. And it was...
Mine and Marsha's schedules don't often match so we did some longer runs together but mostly we were running on our own in the months leading up to race day. Somewhere along the way though, I stopped hating it. My legs got stronger, my lungs caught up and I don't remember exactly when but I stopped being scared that I wouldn't be able to complete 6 miles. I ran 4 miles and it wasn't that bad... I ran five miles and felt like I could keep going... it was so weird for me! ;)
But the Thursday before Sunday's race, I was running alone. I was listening to music and enjoying the weather, and I began to pray for As Our Own as I'd done many times while running. I prayed for little girls who sleep under their mother's beds and in closets while their mothers work in brothels there in India. I prayed for those orphaned in India who would likely be sold as slaves as young as 6 years old. I begged God to see and intervene and I praised him for As Our Own, who would rescue and raise these little girls to be smart and strong and know Jesus. And I knew that it mattered what I was doing. I knew something had come alive in me. I was called and I was passionate and I was excited to run. That Thursday the Lord spoke to me, too. He told me that we'd all been
rescued from something- Dona, Adrielle, Marsha, Claire and I- he'd
rescued each of us from ourselves, our own sin and the sins of others.
"But on Sunday," He said, "you are no longer victims who have been
rescued, but you run as rescuers." With that, we could run in power.
The day of the race was ridiculously cold.
I know I only ran 6.1 miles. I know I only raised $500 and there are more than 40 million vulnerable children in India. But we have to start somewhere. You have to start. You have to do something. I cry a lot. I believe my tears are groans that only the Spirit understands. I cry for the hurting and the vulnerable. But then I have two options- either stop caring because it hurts too much or DO something. So I'm doing. Whatever I can, big or small. Money, time, effort, prayers, sacrifice. It's not ok with me if children are hungry or abandoned. It's not OK in my city and it's not OK in my world. People are not things to be sold. That's not OK in my city, or in my world. Women were adored, honored and respected by Jesus and it.is.not.OK. when they are not treated the same in my city or anywhere in the world.
Ralph Borde, founder and CEO of As Our Own, said in a sermon I watched recently. "This is not a social justice issue. This is a Kingdom justice issue." Yes. Agreed. And speaking of Ralph, he was at the finish line of the Dallas race. He approached me wearing my As Our Own jersey, introduced himself and thanked me for running for them. I knew who he was as soon as he started talking, and it was an emotional day. So as I shook his hand and thanked him, I actually cried! Give glory to God, but give honor where honor is due! :)
I knew I wanted to run, to accomplish, but I had no idea all God would teach me. How He would change me. This won't be the last I talk about it. This certainly won't be the last time I run. I'm planning on the whole half next time :)