In honor of the Track and Field Trials let’s talk about some professional athletes. Ryan and Sara Hall joined Team World Vision this year. I’ll let you hear their story straight from their page:
A message from Ryan: “Joining Team World Vision was an answer to our prayer. Now we have something very tangible that we are fighting for out on the track, roads, or grass: to help the sick, orphaned, and poor all over the world.” Watch Ryan’s story.
To you from Sara: “Running accomplishments in and of themselves, even when you’ve reached the top, are empty without being done for a greater purpose. Team World Vision equips you as a runner with a purpose for which to train, sacrifice, and compete: the ability to change lives of African children in areas impacted by AIDS!” Read Sara’s blog and an article from the New York Times.
Ryan shares about why World Vision has become a part of his running on his blog:
For example, I learned that half of the people in the world, nearly 3 billion people, live on less than two dollars a day. Just yesterday, I was doing my easy 35 minute afternoon run and thinking about how every three seconds a child under the age of five dies as a direct result of poverty. It has finally hit me that we have a major problem here. I know that a major problem can’t be fixed overnight and I realize that I am just one man but if I can use the gifts God has given me to feed one more mouth that otherwise would not be feed, then it is worth it. One of my favorite verses from Message version of Romans simple says, “strength is for service.” I am convicted that whatever strength I have been given is not strictly for my enjoyment, but also carries with it the responsibility to carry out the Olympic spirit of providing a bright future for all humanity.
This new passion to fight global poverty has brought so much more meaning to my running. I thought about it when I was training for London, and even in the race itself, I remember looking around at the group of purely African runners and thinking that maybe I wasn’t African but I was running for their people as well as my own. I have been inspired by fellow runners Paul Tergat, Lornah Kiplagat, Kip Keino, and many other African runners who have become successful and used their fame and wealth to go back to their communities and help people. As an American, sometimes I find myself getting frustrated that the Africans have become so dominate, but if they can use it as a means to fight the poverty of their communities than I wish them the best of success. In the Olympic games I have a lot to run for. I run for God, my wife, my family, my coach, my hometown, for America, and for my fallen friend Ryan Shay, but I also run for Africa, to provide clean water for their people.
I believe that many fellow athletes have the same heart but maybe they are unsure how they can use their passion for running to help others.
Sara has some great things to say on her blog as well:
Ever since I was young, I wanted to make my mark on the world by being a missionary. In 2nd grade, I would draw pictures of myself with my 7 blonde children (and no husband present- ?) in Africa bringing aid.
God put this desire to live and work in a third world country helping to meet physical and spiritual needs in me ever since I was young. When I was preparing to graduate from Stanford, I was torn between pursuing this dream he had put in my heart, or to pursue the talent he had given me in running. In the end, I felt God prompting me to pursue a career in running for a period of time before the missions work. However, the past few years have been hard because I really don’t feel like I’ve been preparing myself for that future at all- if anything, it is making me accustomed to a life of selfishness and self-indulgence, which will only make life on the missions field more of a culture shock!
The reason I’ve continued running professionally is with the hope that somehow God can use it for something greater, something larger than myself. The exciting thing is, now I am finally beginning to get a glimpse of how that can happen. Ryan and I met with some leaders from an organization called World Vision to talk about partnering with them in their work though starting “Team World Vision”.
Ryan and I had the chance to see first hand one of their community development projects in Mexico this past weekend. It was so awesome to meet the people living in these communities outside of Tiajuana and hear firsthand how they have benefited from World Vision’s programs. I met children who were being sponsored to go to school and have enough money for nutritious food through their child sponsorship program (if you’re a skeptic like me, sometimes you wonder whether your money actually goes to a specific child- well it does!), meet women who have been taught skills they can use to make products out of their home while still taking care of their children, met teenagers that have been spared a life of drugs and gangs because of the sports programs that have taken their time and attention, and families who don’t have to sleep in the mud because World Vision’s donated supplies to fix their roofs and pour cement floors. It made me long to stay in that village and join in hands-on, but I am hoping that by crossing back over the border and returning to my training, my efforts can be magnified!
Team World Vision
Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.
On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.
[tags] World Vision, Team World Vision, Africa Ryan Hall, Sara Hall[/tags]