One Step at a Time

Wednesday 05 Aug

Scott Pilgrim reflects on the power of perseverance.

My ten-year-old daughter Imogen enjoys coming for a run with me, but there’s a predictable pattern when she joins me. Imogen always starts running so fast from the get-go and I need to keep reminding her to slow down. We might be planning a 10km run but, as she starts at a 1km-sprint pace, she is soon exhausted.  

In today’s busy world, with so many competing priorities and pressures, we often find ourselves ‘running hard and fast’. We live in a world that bombards us with messages of instant gratification, immediacy and information. A world where so many decisions are made with a short-term lens and a flawed view of ‘success’.
With this running image in mind, I have been thinking over the past week about the wonderful story of John Stephen Akhwari, who represented Tanzania in the marathon at the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics. Akhwari had never ran at high altitude before and cramped quickly once the marathon commenced. At one point, Akhwari fell badly, wounding and dislocating his knee as well as injuring his shoulder. He was in much pain but he kept running slowly, one step at a time. The record books record that Akhwari finished last, but he is remembered today more than the winner of that race. Akhwari crossed the finish line more than an hour after the winner with only a few thousand people left in the stadium. You can find moving video footage of the finish online. 

When interviewed after the race and asked why he continued running, Akhwari said, "My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5000 miles to finish the race."

I love this story and how it speaks of the power of perseverance. It reminds me of our Biblical call to be people who go the distance; people who appreciate the need to look at life and our shared ministry through a long-term lens. 

This is a timely reminder for all of us as we journey through this challenging COVID season. I wonder what ‘going the distance’ means for you today? I wonder where God may be inviting you to ‘stay the course’? Where might God want to remind you of the importance of perseverance?

With these questions in mind, let me also say a very big thank you to all our supporters for their ongoing practical, prayerful and financial support. As our partners go the distance with us, we’re able to stick with communities around the globe, sharing the hope of Jesus by word and deed. 

In our Strategic Roadmap, we have captured our organisational values afresh under the heading ‘Travelling Together’. One of these values reads: ‘We stay the course’. Since commencing at Global Interaction in March, I have heard so many stories that bring this value to life; stories that flesh out our community’s commitment to going the distance.

Over the past week as I have chatted with team members, like Milard and Joyce, and been reminded of the amazing, long and dedicated service of people like Lindsay and Jane. Through these people we see one side of the ‘stay the course’ coin – how our intercultural workers dedicated and sacrificial service is used by God in the places we serve. 

On the other side of the coin, I have spoken with team members this past week who authentically and vulnerably have shared about the challenge of ‘waiting’ and the accompanying feelings of grief and uncertainty, which have been evoked in the midst of the pandemic. 

It’s good to remind ourselves of both sides of the coin – celebrating passionate service over the long haul and the need to persevere and look to the one who strengthens us when life doesn’t go as we envisage it will. 

In the midst of all seasons of life and ministry, we know the difference our partners make; we know the difference prayer makes; we know the difference that a word of encouragement and acts of generosity and kindness make for our teams across the globe. We appreciate the power of partnership and people sticking with us, so we can stay true to our compelling vision as a mission community.

Serving Jesus Together
Scott « Back to News