Every Saturday morning, Parkview’s marathon team gathers on the church patio to pray and encourage one another before heading out to run the furthest distance most of them have ever run in their lives. There are over 85 people from Parkview training for the Chicago Marathon in the name of clean water. As the mileage grows, God continues to transform this team of “not-runners” into a beautiful, sweaty mess of a community. Collectively, they’ve already raised nearly $70,000 of their $250,000 goal for clean water projects through World Vision. Individually, they each carry their own personal story of why they were compelled to sign up for this crazy thing. See what they had to say below when asked why they’re doing this and what they’ve learned so far!
If you want to support them, you can give to the team or a specific runnerhere.
I decided to run because God kept whispering to me in multiple ways after I kept saying, “I am not running the marathon again!” He has truly been present throughout this whole season. I’ve learned God can truly speak to us, and we can only listen when we slow down and pay attention. Running has become a time of worship for me.
– Alyse Howard
Upon arriving at church that fateful Sunday morning, I knew right then we would be running the Chicago Marathon with Team World Vision. It was a quiet whisper from God, and I had peace and acceptance about it that is absolutely not normal for me. With confirmation that Maureen would also run and with much deliberation to count the cost, we said yes. The need is too great, and God gave us the ability to sacrifice our time and energy to help people in Africa that we will never meet. It has been a struggle almost weekly – both to give up time and to overcome the body’s limitations. But neither of us would give it up. I’ve also learned to trust that God is in control of my time, my schedule and just how far my body can go. I’ve been a bit anxious for some of the long runs, but with Him all things are possible. But I still don’t like running!
– Rene Romero
I decided to run because everyone should have easy access to clean water. Giving communities water allows people the time to go to school, which is a
life changinggift. As a teacher, I believe everyone should have access to school and learning.
– Jerri Gapastione
I run to open my heart to the transforming power of God’s love and grace. Listening to His plan sometimes means doing things we never imagined. At a challenging spot in my own life, I knew the overwhelming urge I felt to join the Parkview World Vision team and help bring clean water to those in need could only be coming from God. He does not disappoint! This experience has not only helped me to better love His people (even those I’ll never meet), but it has also shown me first-hand how He WILL carry me, as long as I trust Him and give myself completely to Him!
– Erica LaForte
I decided to run with last year’s team because it combined two of my passions: the love of running with helping children. I’ve grown to appreciate the unbelievable impact TWV has on children, families
andcommunities around the globe – so I am back for more!! Unfortunately, I injured myself this Sunday so prayers for a speedy recovery would be appreciated!
I am convinced the prayer of a Kenyan pastor when I was 19 years old has forever impacted my love for Africa. I was preparing to leave Kenya after working there for two months when he told me with great confidence he was going to pray I would have such a great burden for Africa when I went home that I would have to return. I would never imagine how God would bring Africa back to me nearly 20 years later. I can still recall the feeling of despair I felt the day I arrived at a slum in Kenya – where raw sewage ran through the streets. I wept at the injustice in the world, and it fueled in me
a righteous angerto overturn those injustices and stand in the gap. I didn’t think I’d run the marathon again this year, but this same burden remains. I simply cannot sit back in the face of injustice, of inequality, of poverty, of illness and disease caused by the global water crisis. By running the marathon, God has revealed to me a vision of a new heaven and earth and a hope in the not yet.
– Julie Scott
I moved to the area in December 2018 and joined Parkview in January 2019, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved and meet people in my new community. The message on that Sunday that Josh and Shari presented resonated with
me,because I have two kids (ages 6 and 4) and I was reminded of how blessed we really are. Even despite an awful 2018, my kids were not walking 4 miles to gather clean water for us every day. Rather than mope around about our own less-than-ideal circumstances, I’m happy to be reminded of our blessings regularly through doing this. I am fully capable to do hard things, like run a marathon to bring awareness to the cause, and to ask the people around me for support and donations to make a meaningful impact where it is needed!
– Morgan Biesecker
I wanted to run to push myself to try something challenging and stretch myself. I’ve learned so much about the water crisis. Hitting the longer mileage had made me lean on God to keep going even when my body ready to call it quits.
– Rob Mayer
I wanted to honor the healing God has brought to my legs by giving back to Him and helping others.
– Deborah Hemmer
I have been able to support two children from World Vision. Their work is phenomenal. When my sister-in-law, Amy, said she was running a marathon…she totaled inspired me. My love for missions and running are coming together
inthis journey. My mission trips to Haiti have brought me to a place where this hits home and I remember this when I’m tired. It is harder being further away from this group, as having the support of a group in this situation can be vital to success. I am leaning into God to sustain me during the harder days. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve in this way.
– Jennifer Herndon
I decided to run because God gave me messages through the people I have met at Parkview. My neighbor Nando Neri invited us to come to a Sunday service where we were very welcomed. My interest was piqued after meeting Shari and Jessie at the TWV table as the Chicago Marathon has always been on my bucket list. I attended the first group event and met Ryan and others at the table. They encouraged me to join. So I signed up. I’ve learned you can’t take what you have for granted, such as easy access to clean water. The fact people must walk 6K for water in Africa is not right! Running the distance is a constant reminder of how blessed we are.
– Mark Rochelle
I do not attend Parkview but was roped into this marathon thing by a crazy coworker of mine who does! I have already been blown away by the welcoming community, the mission of World Vision, and the love and support my family and friends have shown!
– Dan Roelofs
I wanted to run as a challenge for myself, and to show my two young
girls youcan challenge yourself to accomplish and push beyond what’s comfortable. I also wanted to bring clean water to those who need help. I have learned so much from the involvement with World Vision.
– Erika Dyer
This team still has a long way to go before race day! If you’d like to be praying for them, here’s some great places to start:
- For the communities for which they run. For every man, woman and child on the water walk. For clean water to reach these communities quickly and for fullness of life to sweep through!
- For the Lord’s physical protection over the runners’ bodies. Quick healing for injuries and a tangible presence for those experiencing the discouragement of needing to sit on the bench for a while.
- For boldness in following God’s promptings to invite others to support the cause for which our team runs. For invitations to give to land on open ears and generous hearts.
- For unity as a team. For God to continue transforming us into His likeness – both individually and as a group of people united by a calling.