Katie, Lebanon 2017
Katie chose to run in the Lebanon Muskathlon in 2017. Here is her story.
What prompted you to take part in the Muskathlon?
I was at a Christian camp and God gave me a picture. I saw myself at the foot of the cross with a folded flag. Like when an American soldier dies and a folded flag is given to the loved ones, I was giving my folded flag - to Jesus my loved one. My self was dead and being offered at the foot of the cross. As I gave Him myself He then handed me back the flag now open. It was the flag of His kingdom and He sent me running a victory lap around a race track - the flag of His kingdom flying for all the spectators in the arena to see. In dying to self His kingdom became visible in a mighty and obvious way to the multitudes in the arena. When I had run round the track I found the flag was folded again and I offered who I am and again He sent me. ‘It is not I who live but Christ in me. ' (Galatians 2 v20) As I was praying about what to do and waiting for Him to show me, the Muskathlon ad appeared on Facebook. I dismissed it, thinking, “the only running event I've ever taken part in is Couch to 5k - I can't possibly do a Muskathlon!” But I looked into it and started running. When I finally submitted my application a year later, it felt like one of the hardest things I 've ever done because I would have to leave my family behind. But I knew I was being obedient to God.
How did God encourage you along the way?
I had a hip injury shortly before I was due to travel and was advised by two different health professionals that I should cancel my plans and rest for six weeks. I decided to rest for two weeks but still carry on with the Muskathlon. My physio advised that I would cause myself some real issues and my doctor was very worried. During the run I could feel something initially in my hip but I carried on and at the end I had no pain whatsoever - a complete miracle!
What touched you most when you met the persecuted church?
I was so impressed by everything the church was doing over there. When we went to the service there were Muslim children singing Christian songs. I 'm not normally the type to cry but I just couldn 't help it. It really touched me. It was also interesting visiting the refugees. The culture there is that women talk to women and I was very struck by the fact that there were so few men there and I was able to do a lot of the talking. I was able to pray for three ladies in their home and that was such a privilege.
What were the biggest challenges?
Leaving my family and doing it by myself was a real challenge. It was also a hard training in the cold wet UK but then experiencing the other extreme in Lebanon. Finally, I 'm not experienced at public speaking but when I returned home I shared in a couple of churches. One had a strict time limit and another had up to 300 people, both of which were quite daunting!
How has the trip changed you?
Because life is easy here we often become complacent. One of the Syrian pastors we met recounted that 6 members of his congregation were shot on their way to church one morning. When I came back home I had such a sense of gratitude that I could go to church without fearing hardship or persecution. And it was so noticeable that the Syrian pastors have to stand up for their faith, be proactive and live it out every single minute of every single day.
I have been a Christian for many years but I was naïve about the persecuted church and didn't even know about Open Doors until I saw the Facebook ad. I hadn't heard much about the church across the world so finding out about Open Doors and the work they do was a real eye opener. I'm now at a point where I've done this and I'm wondering what the next step is. I am waiting at the foot of the cross for His next commission!
What advice would you give to someone else who is considering taking part in a Muskathlon event?
If God is calling you to do it then He will give you the strength and ability to do it. With God you can do anything!