A marathon, not a sprint

Dear Christian Friend,

“Remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.”

Growing up and going through school, I enjoyed playing sports like football, basketball, baseball, and even floor hockey. But as full-time ministry began, it became more difficult to find opportunities to do those things even though I knew I still needed to get exercise. So, I took up running. Little did I know that running would lead to competing in 5K races, which led to friends convincing me to compete in a half-marathon.

That’s when “it’s a marathon and not a sprint” hit home. While wind sprints get you in shape for football, basketball, baseball, and floor hockey, training for a half-marathon requires far less sprinting and far more long-distance running. You must learn to pace yourself so that you can run a strong race for the entire 13.1 miles.

“It’s a marathon and not a sprint” can also apply to the WELS initiative to start 100 missions and enhance 75 missions in 10 years. The “race” has now started with ten new mission starts and ten enhancements approved in year one. We thank God for you and our partnership in the gospel that enables us to reach more lost souls with the message of forgiveness, peace, and hope through Jesus Christ.

We’ve started strong and now need to continue going where the people are to reach more of the lost. We also want to equip our missions to thrive and not just survive. Yet, in these markets, we’re seeing the cost of real estate, rental property, and construction rising dramatically. Some might ask, “Is it worth the cost?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus became poor so that we could become rich. What we have wasn’t purchased with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood and by his innocent suffering and death. We have pardon for our sins, peace with God, and hope for this life and eternity. We are rich!

The “100 Missions in 10 Years” initiative is all about sharing our riches with those who are still poor. By God’s grace, together with you, we have started strong. We trust that we will continue running strong. We trust that we will continue to pray for this initiative as well as the ministry of WELS.

During this season of Lent as we consider the empty tomb and the riches we have, how can we not share our riches with those who are still poor? We trust that as God has blessed you financially, you will consider a special gift that will help us continue to run a strong race by God’s grace. And remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

In Christ’s service,
Mark Gabb
Administrator, WELS Home Missions

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for blessing our synod’s “100 Missions in 10 Years” effort with a strong start toward the goal of 100 new home missions and 75 mission enhancements by 2033. Send your Spirit to bless the ten mission starts and ten enhancements that were approved last year. May they—and all of our congregations—stay focused on gathering around your gospel in Word and sacraments and sharing it with our communities. Amen.