Stephen, Egypt/Jordan 2016
Stephen chose to run in the Egypt/Jordan Muskathlon in 2016.
Why did you choose to do a Muskathlon?
I have always wanted to run a marathon for a charity. I wanted to run one for the Lord and I saw the Muskathlon adverts in the Open Doors Magazine. At the time the refugee crisis was all over the news - and seeing the state people were in made me want to help. Hebrews 12:1-2 kept coming to mind: "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus."
How did you find the fundraising?
At the start it was daunting but God helped me through it. I managed £7,000 before Christmas thanks to people who signed up as regular givers to Open Doors. Slowly more people heard about what I was doing and I gave a presentation in church. I was very clear that everything I was donated would go to help refugees and that I was paying for the travel costs out of my own pocket - that 's really important. Looking back now God has done more than we could ever have hoped for. With the wonderful help from my church, family and friends we have raised over £17,000!
What were the highlights of the Muskathlon?
The whole thing was fantastic. Is was so great to meet our persecuted brothers and sisters and stand with them. It was also incredibly humbling to hear their stories. We take so much for granted in our Western society that I sometimes feel guilty - God has blessed us with what we have and we are privileged to be able to share our good fortune. The Muskathlon has brought me closer to God and has allowed me to meet people I would have not been able to meet.
How did you cope with running a Marathon in the heat?
Actually I didn 't worry about the heat - I was worried about just getting through the event. I 've been running all my life, but three months into my Muskathlon preparation, after a chance conversation with the family GP, I had an x-ray and was referred to the consultant. He told me I needed a hip replacement. The pain got worse and I couldn 't run as often as it took me days to recover each time. I was worried I might not be able to complete the marathon - even getting in and out of a car was painful. My wife urged me to run the half marathon option instead but I really wanted to do a marathon for my supporters who had been so amazing. Before the Muskathlon we had devotions on Mount Nebo - we were asked if we had any prayer requests and I asked for prayer about my hip. As I stood up after our prayers I was able to run my whole marathon - it was incredible! God made it possible, he healed me. I 've had no pain since I came home.
What would you say to people thinking of doing a Muskathlon?
Don't think about it - just do it! God will help you.