Members of Eternal Love, Appleton, Wis., have turned an irritant into an opportunity to let their lights shine.
Every September the Fox Cities Marathon is run on a Sunday morning. The marathon’s route surrounds our church property, going down the street in front of our church early in the route and then on the street behind our church at about mile 18. As a result, the roads around our church are blocked off and closed at portions of the morning between 7 A.M. and noon. This makes it extremely difficult for our worshipers to get to our church that Sunday, and our attendance (and offerings) drop by about 30 to 50 percent.
For the first few years this happened, we were irritated by the marathon because it kept so many away from the Word. But for the past six years, instead of resenting it, Eternal Love has embraced it and has held hymn-sings down at the road as the runners and walkers go past.
More than five thousand marathon participants are greeted with our testimony of praise and a confession of our faith in the words of our hymns and praise songs. Many marathoners react in kind, pointing to the sky, giving us thumbs up, and running close to give high-fives to the singers. Almost every year runners send notes of thanks after the marathon for the Christian testimony that we give. The marathon is no longer an irritant, but an opportunity to share our testimony of praise to our God.
This year we made our testimony bigger and better. In spite of the rain, we set up a tent; rolled a keyboard out there; had a trumpet, guitars, and a lead singer; put up witness signs and balloons; and sang and cheered for 30 minutes as the mass of runners went by. It was awesome. We had about 35 participants from our church, in spite of the fact that it was 7 A.M., rainy, cold, and very hard to get to the church.
Next year, if the weather is better, we hope to double the numbers. We actually hope the marathon doesn’t change the route.
Author: Robert Balza Sr.
Volume 102, Number 2
Issue: February 2015
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