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Run 4 Kenya takes off

Mike Wilson’s high school track coach at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy raised $250,000 for a new track by running 100 miles in 24 hours. Businesses and corporations sponsored his run.

When Wilson, an Eastern University sophomore and top runner for the men’s cross country team, wondered how he could integrate his faith into running, he recalled this story of his high school coach.

The coach saw the school needed a new track and accomplished it through his talent of running. “First I wanted to do something with running other than just running,” Wilson said. “I was trying to connect the dots between running and sharing the gospel.”

That is how Run 4 Kenya was created. Wilson talked to friends and cross country teammates about getting corporate businesses to sponsor all of them to run the Philadelphia Marathon, Half Marathon or the 8K to raise money for Word Ablaze Ministries located in Kenya. After the majority of his team expressed great interest, Wilson decided R4Kenya could really work. R4Kenya is in the process of becoming an official club on campus and welcomes anyone to join. The group is focusing on allowing members to use their gifts and talents in any way possible for the group as a whole.

The group will find businesses to sponsor runners, but there are many different ways people can serve. Wilson said that people can use any kind of gift to fundraise-running, dancing, baking, marketing and making t-shirts were a few that he mentioned.

Dan Edwards, a first-year at Eastern, found out about R4Kenya and said, “Wow, that sounds really cool.” He was impressed that he could contribute by using his talents. Edwards sees this group as much more than fundraising for Word Ablaze Ministries. He said people will be able to examine themselves and find out what talents they have. “It’s not focused on one gift. It lets you use whatever gift you have,” Edwards said. “It gives you a chance to do something beneficial and charitable.”

Word Ablaze Ministries is located in Nakuru, Kenya and was founded by Paul and Donna Tocco. Wilson wanted to find a ministry that was present in the community and focused on friendships. He learned of Word Ablaze Ministries from a college peer, Nick Agazarian, who spent two months of his summer in Nakuru with the ministry.

“Their ministry entails pulling kids out of dumps and giving them an education so they can teach their brothers and sisters,” Wilson said. The ministry also trains Kenyan ministers rather than placing missionary pastors as leaders of churches there. “They just graduated 49 ministers in December,” Wilson said. Wilson began e-mailing the Tocco’s about their ministry and told them of his idea.

In light of the recent political unrest and displacement of Kenyans, the ministry is involved. “Right now with the crisis in Kenya they housed 9,000 on their premises,” Wilson said. The Word Ablaze Ministries’ website said there are approximately 30 camps in Nakuru full of people in search of safety.

If you are interested in learning more about R4Kenya, contact Mike Wilson at mwilson@eastern.edu or view the group’s page on Facebook.com called R4Kenya. For more information about Word Ablaze Ministries visit www.wordablazeministries.org.

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