Competition, Compassion Drive Two Marathoners to Finish

Post a Comment » Written on April 23rd, 2009     
Filed under: News
BOSTON, MA (April 23, 2009) – Two Covenant “Josiah Runners” who completed their first Boston Marathon on Monday say the race was an incredible thrill, but also a wonderful opportunity to help children.

Heather Karlson, director of Children and Family Ministries at Faith Evangelical Covenant Church in Wheaton, completed the 26.2-mile race in 4:04:03 (see top photo, front left). Boaz Johnson, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at North Park University, crossed the finish line at 4:30:08 (lower photo with Karlson).

RunnersBoth are accomplished marathoners who have used their athletic gifts to aid various ministries over the years. Money they raised this year will be split evenly between the Hindustani Covenant Church in India and Community Covenant Church in Hopkinton, which uses the money for its scholarships to Camp Squanto and CHIC. Once the campership needs are met at the church, all of the remaining donations will go to the Hindustani church.

The Hindustani church is a partner in the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Break the Chains initiative.

The Hopkinton church supplied the pair their entrance numbers, which meant they didn’t have to qualify for the race, in exchange for the runners helping to raise funds for these ministries. Karlson and her husband, Steve, joined the congregation for worship on Sunday morning.

“That church was such a family to us, and we were there for just a few hours,” she said.

Karlson spoke to the children on Sunday and discussed their “word of the day,” which appropriately was endurance (center photo). Afterwards, “One of the little girls prayed for me,” Karlson said, almost tearing up.

SignKarlson lived the lesson during the race. “I was a bit discouraged in the middle of the race because I knew some big hills were coming up. It was way more challenging than I thought it would be.”

Still, Karlson said, she kept telling herself with amazement, “I am actually running the Boston Marathon.”

Speaking from Logan International Airport in Boston on Tuesday evening, Karlson said it was easy to tell who all the runners were “because we all have that certain walk. We just kind of waddle.”

Karlson was excited to be raising money for the church’s fund, explaining “camping is dear to my heart.” And for good reason – not only was her faith nurtured at camp, but that also is where she met her husband.

The opportunity to raise funds to battle human trafficking also is important to Karlson. She will be teaching a two-week class on the topic beginning this Sunday.

Johnson was equally thrilled to be running in the “king of the marathons,” something he had longed to do for years. “It’s quite an exhilarating experience,” he said. “To think of all the great runners who had been in that marathon and to be able to participate was wonderful.”

Johnson was pleased with his time, adding, “By God’s grace, I was able to finish.”

PairThe marathon has taken on another special meaning for Johnson. After preaching a sermon at the university, he received a vision of what the life of the biblical King Josiah can mean for people today.

Josiah was only eight years old when God began using him to change a whole society. At age 18, he caused a revival to take place in the whole kingdom of Judah.

When Johnson was eight years old, he was living in the slums of New Delhi and he saw  his friends forced into all kinds of slavery. He says those deplorable conditions are accurately depicted in the recent Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Johnson, who spoke at Monadnock Covenant Church in Keene, New Hampshire, on Sunday, said he hopes the money will help raise up young leaders to lead revival and wipe out all forms of slavery.

The amount of money raised so far hasn’t been determined. People still can donate to the Josiah Runners by clicking here.

“I hope more and more people will give, but I know this is a hard year,” said Johnson.

There is little time for Johnson to rest. Today (Thursday) he was scheduled to be part of a panel discussion at a large anti-trafficking symposium at Loyola University in Chicago.

Also on the panel will be James Garbarino, an internationally renowned child psychologist who will talk about the psychological impact that poverty and the trauma of enslavement have upon children, and Katherine Kaufka, who has prosecuted several high-profile trafficking cases and now directs the International Organization for Adolescents.

Kevin Bales, who Johnson said was the first to press the United Nations on human trafficking, is a featured speaker.

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