This writing was finished on International Woman`s Day, hopefully in the future the children that I am advocating for will be able to celebrate this day.
In the movie The Princess Bride the villain and the hero faced off in a duel. As they touched swords the villain said "To the death." while the hero countered "no, to the pain."
To the pain of knowledge:
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
Currently 30 million people live in our world as slaves. An estimated 2 million children are being forced to work as sex slaves.
The media uses it`s freedom of expression to tell the graphic stories of young children being murdered. Lately I read about Tori Stafford, before her sad story I read about Russel Williams, Paul Bernardo, and others I have forgotten about mercifully. Each story told what the victims faced before death, and I wonder why publicize this? Why not show mercy to the families of the victims? Are we not creating the possibility of giving ideas to the people who think about this type of thing?
From what I hear thousands of men go to the less developed Countries and use their financial might to purchase young children for illegal sexual acts. Despite the fact that these men are committing serious crimes only a very small percentage ever get caught and are punished.
Many times for the few who do get caught the punishment does not match the severity of their crimes.
To the pain of rejection:
I ran one evening and had to change up my course due to the rapidly approaching darkness.
I ended up running past a Church I had not seen in the last four years. This church was on my training runs years before and I thought to run right up to it as I had in the past.
The sidewalk had not been taken care of all winter so a huge valley of ice and snow kept me
from approaching the Church.
I thought in some ways this is symbolic of some Churches and some people who attend these Churches, in that they sometimes put up walls and barriers that prevent the people who need to be there from coming, and how they also ignore the issues that matter most.
I thought of a book I read by Philip Yancy and the story he told of a prostitute who was encouraged to seek help from Christians at a Church. She responded "that is the last place I would go."
Last year before I ran The Cleveland Marathon the story broke of the three girls held captive for ten years. The course took me along the street they were kidnapped on, I ran less than two blocks away from the house they were held captive in. I sent some information to a Christian radio station in Cleveland explaining my reason for coming to Cleveland to run in their marathon. I never had a reply.
The church I mentioned earlier was significant to me a few years ago. I was training for my second marathon and on my long runs I would stop, put my hands on the building and pray that this congregation would learn about the suffering children in Cambodia and act upon their knowledge. The day before the marathon I sent a copy of a story mentioning the reason why I run marathons that had appeared in the paper. I included what I had prayed for this Church and included some contact information. Again no reply.
Helping out at a table after a Conference in which Ratanak International had a speaker I was approached by a young man, a youth Pastor who was all fired up by what he had heard.
I was surprised by his positive response to the message as my experience to that point had not seen many Pastors this enthusiastic which in turn surprised him as he remarked "this would be a ministry Jesus would be involved in."
To balance things out many Churches are involved very positively in these areas of pain.
My former church has many services and people I am still close to who help out with Ratanak, some host their own events. Many are my biggest encouragers and supporters.
The church I call home has a campaign to help children in Africa who have AIDS. I believe they have given over One million dollars.
To the pain that comes before healing:
Pavlov had an experiment in which he would ring a bell and then proceed to feed some dogs. He found by ringing the bell even without food the dogs would start to salivate.
I have a fear even greater than hearing what my youngest daughter thinks about my running performances.
A very short, petite Asian lady in her small voice says "Larry focus on your breathing." and my whole body tenses up, sweat starts to form on my brow.
The lady who says these words is my Registered massage therapist, these words signal to me that she has found an area of concern and the next two minutes or so are going to be very painful for me as her expert hands break up and spread out whatever potential problem she has found.
I once likened training for a marathon as running to the edge of a cliff and than stopping just in time. If you don`t train hard enough you may not finish the race as 10 percent of all runners entering a marathon. If you train too hard you risk injury and may not get to the starting line.
I do not look forward to my massage therapy, 50 minutes out of an hour are nice and relaxing, but the 10 minutes that I "focus on my breathing" hurt more than almost anything and yet without this I do not think I could have ran my last four marathons with very little side effects.
Two family members have had to go through the pain of chemotherapy and radiation which were awful dark times for both of them, yet today both are cancer free.
Sometimes the best counsellors are the ones who can relate best to the people they counsel.
Who can relate better to the feelings of an sexually abused person than one who has been there themselves?
To the pain of being broken or beaten for a cause:
My first choice to raise funding and awareness for Ratanak International was not running a marathon. One night while watching a boxing tournament put on by a Martial Arts instructor my family knew I thought of asking this man if he would put one on for Ratanak. During the boxing card I made a vow.
Vows are something to be taken very serious. My vow that I said to myself was that I would be willing to take a beating if it would make a difference for the children in Cambodia. I thought this would be in boxing and started training again (I had boxed years before) and yet I never felt comfortable approaching this man about an event. Instead I started running in my Ravine and the rest as they say is history.
In Acts there is a story about a slave girl possessed by a demon who was telling the people all about Paul. The story goes on to mention how Paul cast the demon out of her. It is a story I have read many times without finding anything extraordinary.
Mark Buchanan in his book Your Church Is Too Safe describes this story in a way that I enjoy.
These are his words:
"And she`s nailed it. Not a word she speaks about Paul and Silas is anything but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The town`s leading psychic gives them a robust endorsement. What evangelist would balk at that?
Paul did, he puts up with it for several days, but finally ... became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!
This is the gospel being preached. This is the liberation from the bondage to decay. The gospel is, among other things, this trouble in our hearts at a world that would exploit a little girl for financial gain. It`s this enlarging our hearts that makes us care about the spiritual condition and social plight of a girl, a sparrow, no one else cares about, even knowing full well what it will cost us to intervene.
What it costs Paul and Silas is a brutal scourging and an equally brutal imprisonment. At some point the trouble in Paul`s heart became too heavy. He would not for one more moment flinch from the consequences of stepping in. He would, here and now, gladly be beaten and imprisoned in order to set her free. Paul and Silas exchange their freedom for hers. By their wounds, she is healed."
I know I will never feel as much pain as the girls I run for, and yet in my small way I do give my body every spring for one day to be beaten. Running a full marathon is as close as I can come right now to taking these girl`s places. I feel pain for more than a week some years after the marathon, and yet each step I take in pain reminds me of the ones I ran for. I will never know but my hope is that through my efforts that there is at least one girl in Cambodia who will be freed from her oppression.
One day I would love to hear the words "By your wounds Larry, she is healed."