Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
These are the familiar words of Paul in his exhortation of the early Church recorded in 1 Corinthians 9:24. They were also recently the center of our morning staff devotional. The gist of our talk: Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged in life, but if we approach it like a runner does a race, we’ll receive the “prize” — eternal life and perfect joy with God in heaven.
Eleven-year-old Rebecca, an AIDS orphan from Malawi, takes this verse to heart — literally. Our Africa projects officer, Jim Kline, met this aspiring young runner on a recent trip to Kondanani Children’s Orphanage, a home for 135 AIDS orphans we support monthly. Being a runner himself, Jim was quite impressed by Rebecca and her recent accomplishment. At only 11 years old, she had placed first for her age group, which included youths up to 17, in a big local running meet.
“She’s smart too,” Jim added, saying she had scored in the top three out of 700 people in her grade on a recent government test. He was so amazed because Rebecca first came to the orphanage as a tiny, abandoned baby. (Her family had probably died of AIDS.) In fact, she was one of Kondanani’s first children.
Jim says he tries to imagine what life would have been like for Rebecca if she had never come to Kondanani. She probably would have died or lived a hard life in the streets. Instead, he says, she’s a talented young lady with a bright future in front of her. “It’s amazing to see God work through us to produce wonderful stories like this.”