Running and Staying On Course

 

Running and Staying On Course
It was still dark when we arrived at Lukenya Hills /Photo: James Ouma

Kelvin, Jared and I woke up before the alarm went off at 3:30 AM. We had slept for 5 hours. But it was okay with me. After we had breakfast, my wife said a short prayer before we hit the road. It was still dark when arrived at the Lukenya School at 5 am.
We therefore had plenty of time to pick our tags, network and check out our ‘competition’. In 2016, I didn’t have such a luxury. I arrived when the other runners had a 47 minutes head start. By the time I begun running, 7 more minutes had ticked off.
Running alone was the hardest run I have ever run. All I had to follow were hundreds of shoe steps that had erased the markings. With my underwear cutting into my fleshy thighs, my run wasn’t a stroll in the park. By the time I crossed the finish line, blood was gushing from my thighs and down my feet. My toes and heels were on fire while no amount of water could quench my thirst. Luckily, I fell into my wife’s welcoming arms,
I used last year’s run to reflect on whether or not I needed to continue my work with Lifesong Kenya. In fact, that is what I focused on throughout 2016. In the end, God spoke clearly to me through a number of people, signs and personal convictions.
I have already resumed my work as a full time volunteer. That comes with lots of challenges and opportunities to grow. I am now in a position where I am able to find and get clients for my on line writing and reading club.

Running and Staying On Course

 
“James, what should be our strategy tomorrow?” Elisha had asked the previous night.
“I expect a top position from Kelvin and you,” I replied. “Jared will grow our network by sharing our vision with those who will be interested.”
“Alright!” Kelvin exclaimed.
“Above all else, let’s all have fun,” I continued. “This doesn’t mean the run is going to be easy. It is going to be painful, tough and you might even spill blood.”
Thinking about Diamond
As I kept running I thought about Diamond and his upcoming case on Tuesday. A lot has happened ever since we met Diamond. The court had given him a free bond on condition that we find a school and a place he can call home. Because Sister Bertina had guaranteed she was going to find a school, our biggest challenge was going to convince his step dad to accept Diamond back.
One day, I got a call from Sister Bertina, “James, we have a problem,” she said. “Diamond’s step dad is dead!”
“Well, that is good news,” I said, without knowing why I was saying this. “It means Diamond can now stay with his mom.”
“Yes,” Sister Bertina replied. “However, she cannot pay rent anymore.”
“What should we do now?” I asked.
“She is asking for our help,” she continued. “I know you still don’t have a place where boys like Diamond can stay. However, I need your help walking with him as well as his mom.”
“What about her?” I asked.
“She needs a tray of eggs and a tin of groundnuts so she can sell boiled eggs and roasted groundnuts.”
“Okay,” I replied. “I will work on that. You keep working on finding a school for Diamond.”

Deciding to drive to Machakos to visit Pistar

 
I also thought about Pistar who had joined Bible College without having all the basic things he needs for his studies. Much as I had shared his needs with members of our ministry in church, I doubted whether anyone done anything tangible. It is my belief that helping others calls for faith backed by action. It is then that I decided we were going to drive to Machakos.
Pistar had just arrived back at the college after hospital ministry where he had prayed, encouraged and played songs to patients. Compared to many of his classmates, his need for an official suit made him stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. His engaging and genuine smile just about made up for the material things he lacks. Hearing him play one of his inspirational song on purpose was a worthy reward for our trip to Machakos.

Pistar had just came back from hospital ministry where he had played his guitar to patients

I also thought about thousands of orphans and their widowed mothers back in Luo Nyanza where I grew up. I don’t know why this came to my mind. But it wasn’t for the first time I was thinking about building an iron sheet and mud walled houses to 3 widows this year. I have thought and prayed about it more than once and because I still don’t know what God wants me to do about this, I kept praying about the matter as I kept running.

In conclusion

My running has become more than a means to raise funds for our work with the boys we work with in juvenile prison and elsewhere. It has become a means through which I pray, reflect and listen to what God has to say concerning my engagement with boys and young men. As I continue recovering from the Lukenya Trails Run, I am thankful for the amount of money we managed to raise during this run.
I am also thankful that Elisha, Jared and Kelvin were able to join and be by my side. Their support, and of course my wife’s tremendous faith and support, enables me to continue working as a writer who spends his 9-5 empowering the boys and young men God keeps bringing into my life. It is the most wonderful place and position to be in and God willing, I will continue running and staying on course.

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