Is doing a marathon on your bucket list? Are you looking for a new challenge to tackle? Have you enjoyed running during the pandemic and want to up your game? Are you passionate about raising support for your persecuted family? If you've said yes to any of these questions, we might just be able to help...
Open Doors has reserved places for the virtual London Marathon on Sunday 3 October. It involves doing the 26.2 miles on a course of your choice, anywhere in the world. Our very own Tim has decided to apply for one of the spots. Here he explains why – and why others should join him…
Tim has signed up for the virtual London Marathon to raise funds for the persecuted church - could you join him?
It was early Wednesday morning. Outside it was dark but the skies were beginning to illuminate, the dawn of a new winter’s day. Running along a country lane, I thought I was alone – only to turn my head to realise that there was someone close behind me, perilously close to overtaking me.
And it wasn’t just anyone – it was my friend of 25 years. This wasn’t good news.
Decisive action was needed so I stepped through the gears and ratcheted up my pace. It was a risky move, as overdoing it could mean having to slow down later. Whilst I couldn’t maintain the pace, I still managed to finish – without being overtaken. And to my surprise, I ended up with my best 5k result since the summer.
As I basked in the glory of this inconsequential victory, I was reminded that there is often a capacity to go further that we don’t realise nor reach. What we need is something – or someone – to push us to greater lengths.
It's this thought that has encouraged me to take on my biggest ever running challenge – the virtual London Marathon on Sunday 3 October to raise funds for Open Doors. I’ve never done a marathon, not even close. Whilst I’ve long fancied the idea – even a half-marathon – it’s always felt beyond me. But with training, and for a cause close to my heart, it feels just about doable.
And with the virtual marathon enabling 50,000 more people to join the race alongside the 50,000 doing the traditional run in London – making it the world’s biggest ever marathon anywhere in the world – the opportunity felt too good to turn down.
Here are four other reasons why I’m taking up the marathon – and why you should join me…
Those who sign up for the virtual marathon have a target of £500 to raise, all of which will go to Open Doors’ emergency relief fund. This sum could provide and deliver emergency aid for nine families of persecuted believers (£56 per family). It demonstrates just how far your fundraising efforts can go towards making a real and tangible different to the lives of persecuted Christians.
Open Doors World Watch List 2021 revealed that one in eight Christians globally experience systematic discrimination, unfair treatment and persecution for their faith. Every day, 13 Christians pay the ultimate price for their faith – death.
"Running a marathon doesn’t just raise funds for persecuted Christians, it raises invaluable awareness" Tim
But sadly, the figures and stories of the persecuted church fall under many people’s radar, both in and outside the church. Running a marathon doesn’t just raise funds for these Christians, it raises invaluable awareness.
Additionally, showing our non-Christian family, friends and colleagues that there are people willing to experience suffering, even death, for Jesus shows just how much Jesus means to them. It’s a wonderful way of sharing the gospel.
The hours of training – not to mention the marathon itself! – offer precious opportunities to pray for the persecuted church.
I’ll be looking to structure my prayers around the top 50 list. Each training session will be devoted to a particular country from the list – the slower runs will be perfect for this. It will be harder to do this during the stretches that quicken my heart rate, but hopefully these can still be used for the odd arrow prayer!
These ideas may work for you, too, or you might find a different approach will better suit you. For example, you might prefer to dedicate each mile you run in the marathon to different countries from the list.
And as a welcome bonus, did you know that engaging your brain whilst exercising can improve your mental well-being? It’s a win-win situation!
If any of the above has yet to persuade you, perhaps these will…
You don’t have to go to London! You are doing the fabled, world-renowned London Marathon without the stress of travelling to, and navigating around, the bustling capital. Whether you choose to do a route through your city, loops of your estate or weave through nearby country villages – the choice is yours.
You’ll also be given access to an app where you can log your miles and further engage with the wider event, including exclusive audio commentary from famous voices.
And once done, you’ll get an official medal and t-shirt! You can then tick it off your bucket list and tell people (show off) that not only have you completed the London Marathon, you were also part of an event so big it entered the Guinness World Records. Beat that.
Are you tempted? Go on, go for it! You’ve got this. If you still need persuading, remember that you’ll be part of a community of Open Doors supporters, together looking to raise some thousands of pounds for your persecuted family. Throw in raising awareness for them amongst your family, friends and colleagues, and the opportunities it brings to pray, just imagine the difference you could make…
Can you help bring vital food and aid to those who need it most by running for their lives? Whether you’re organising your own run or joining an event, every £56 you fundraise could equip a Rapid Response team to bring emergency food aid to a family of persecuted believers.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.