It's easy to talk about the things that happened on a journey--to describe the details and events of it; however, it can be much more difficult to reflect upon the journey and how it affected one's being. Such is the case with the 100K walk that I was a part of to raise money for the Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic.
Of course, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment both personally and as a part of the Church. Personally, I am proud that I walked 62.5 miles with little physical wear and tear. I trained and worked hard so that my body was in shape for the endeavor, and I am proud that it held up. It made all those afternoons sweating in the hot sun worth it.
But the personal pride I feel is dwarfed by comparison to the pride I feel in the Church and in those who helped make this endeavor possible. Goodness gracious. It's almost hard to comprehend how many folks added a piece here and there to make the puzzle come together. Eight local congregations played a role in providing food and rest areas along the journey. Seven local businesses provided snacks, drinks, and care for the walkers. Close to 100 people were involved in the cooking and providing of meals, setting up rest areas, preparing and organizing the event, and seeing that things came together. 12 people walked all or part of the 100K; 22 people walked 10K, and 5 walked the 1K. Who knows how many in total contributed money to sponsor those walkers? Quite a few in order to reach $30,000. It is quite amazing to see all these different parts come together and work almost seamlessly to make this event happen.
St. Paul writes these words in the 12th Chapter of the book of 1 Corinthians:
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
I have seen in the past few days how when the church functions in just such a capacity, great things can happen. Tremendous things can happen. And it makes me proud to be a part of such a thing.
My reflections also turn to those who will be the recipients of our work. My heart continues to go out to the people of the Central African Republic and the pastors who will now be able to ride motorcycles to minister to their flocks. My heart goes out to those whose lives will be saved because they were able to get to medical facilities faster. Unfortunately, $30,000 is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to helping people in the third poorest country in the world. Yet, it is a drop in the bucket. It causes ripples. While the overall situation might not change much, a difference still is made. For this I rejoice, and it continues to cause me great joy.
For a long stretch of our walk, we traveled on gravel. There was some grumbling about this; however, my only thought was--nearly all the roads in the Central African Republic are just like this. They don't have money for infrastructure. Folks over there walk on this day in and day out. We are fortunate. When I thought of those who endure such conditions day in and day out, I refused to complain. I refused to stop. For a few days, I would walk with them in a small sort of way. My respect for their endurance and their faith has grown.
I have also been inspired by the generosity and tenacity of others. I've talked earlier of the ladies who gutted out major pain to finish the walk. They are truly and inspiration. But there were many who worked behind the scenes who were just as tenacious and generous.
One of my congregation members tends to get a bad reputation as a hard headed, stubborn German. He deserves it somewhat; however, when it comes to helping others, his hard headedness is something to be marveled at. He is not afraid to put himself on the line to ask businesses and people to help. He will go up to a complete stranger and ask for assistance. He did this numerous times in the past, and in the case of this fundraiser, he did it again. He worked to get 10 cases of bottled water donated by Walmart, 5 cases from Brookshire Brothers, $20 in snacks from HEB, 408 individual cups of ice cream from Blue Bell, and a 2 for 1 deal on the price of port-a-potties. Yes, one gentleman was responsible for all of those things. Oh, and he also sponsored our high school youth $100 per walker up to 10 walkers to travel the 10K. Generous? You tell me. Tenacious? You tell me.
The Sunday before our walk, I had a congregation member approach me. "Pastor," this person said. "We really appreciate what you are doing in your walk, and it's the time when our family gets together to decide what to give to. We want to help you. Is there a goal you are shooting for?"
"Yes," I replied. "We're trying to get $10,000."
"So," the person said, "if I write you a check for $10,000, who do I make it out to?"
"St. John Lutheran Church, and by the way, can I use you as a sponsor?"
Amazing. Simply amazing.
As donations continue to come in and people fulfill their pledges, I give thanks to God. I have seen examples of His goodness time and time again. None of this would have been possible without His guiding hand upon it. He planted the seeds, sent the rains to water them, and they are producing. All glory goes to Him.
I don't know what He will need me and the church to do in the future, but I ask that I remain open to His promptings because when He leads, great things happen.