On October 13th at 2:00 pm, I was 4/5ths of the way through my half Ironman event, but had no gas left in the tank and was running on fumes. With my energy ebbing away, I had to will my body to keep going. Just keep running, just keep running, just keep.... And then I remembered what I had written to all of you that had sponsored me to do this event: "...what better way to do my first triathlon than to dedicate it to the boys and girls of Kenya, Uganda, Guatemala, the Philippines and a host of other developing countries where Food for the Hungry works. Oh, and I'm raising funds for these children too. By racing for them, my hope and prayer is that they will get an education, have better health care, and get more to eat. Won't you join me in helping them?" So now it was time to deliver on that promise to those children. If they can run miles and miles to and from school every day on empty stomachs, then surely I can finish this race with a Gatorade stand waiting for me at every other mile marker!
In 1971, Food for the Hungry was founded by a man named Larry Ward, a giant among humanitarians, with a vision to rid the world of hunger. And in this time that we commemorate every year as World Food Day, I'd like to draw upon his vast wisdom and evocative prose to share some thoughts with you. In the very first letter that he wrote to his friends upon founding this ministry known as Food for the Hungry, Larry's words ring as true today as they did over 40 years ago. In his stirring letter of January 21st, 1971, he writes, "I am here in obedience to what I have to take as the clear call of God. Never have I sensed His presence more; never have I been more sure of His leading. I am burdened, terribly burdened, about the 10,000 people who die of starvation every day."
With those words, Dr. Ward launched a ministry that I am now privileged and honored to co-lead. It is a ministry that has grown a thousandfold since those early years. And many of you reading this have been and continue to be faithful partners in our fight to end hunger and poverty in the name of Jesus. We have made a lot of progress in this fight in the past 40 years. Yet much remains to be done. In Larry's appeal letter, he ended with this clarion call, "Through these years, I have looked directly into the haunting face of hunger. I have seen its pleading eyes and outstretched hand. I have held it in my arms. I have watched it die. All I can do is to say, 'Here I am, Lord, send me!' I'll go. But I count on you to pray."
As we remember today those who are hungry in the world, I want to thank you for praying and for giving. We have been blessed with so much. Thank you that you have reached out via this FH World Sports event to bless others who need help.
Interested to know how the race ended :)? I'm happy to say that I made it! By God's grace, I was able to muster enough strength to push through to the finish line within the time allowed. It was a grueling 70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running. But it was nowhere nearly as difficult as the life that many people around the world face each day just to survive. My hat is off to them. And my prayer is that one day, you and I will celebrate the end of hunger in this world. Just like God promised. Just like Larry Ward envisioned.