On July 12, 28 runners from Fellowship Christian Reformed Church lined up with over 3,000 other participants in Traverse City’s (Mich.) annual Cherry Festival 5k race. Twenty-three more people were in the crowd passing out water bottles and cheering on runners. All were sporting brightly colored T-shirts with Hebrews 12:1-2 printed on them.
“One Sunday we looked at Hebrews 12:1-2, which includes the image of the church as runners,” said Pastor Jon Flikkema. “We talked about how we are like marathon runners for the sake of our city. I challenged the congregation to live out this by running in the Cherry Festival Race.”
Runners from the congregation ranged in age from middle school children to 60-year-olds. “You got to be a little crazy to be a runner,” added Flikkema, “but it is something anyone can do—we have to be a little crazy to share our love with the world.”
Flikkema said the crowd is important too in any race. “Sometimes you don’t think you have anything left to give, but that crowd gives you that extra boost. If you can’t run, be a part of the crowd,” he said.
“It’s encouraging to see younger people doing things,” said Doris Hicks, who with her husband, James, spearheaded the water bottle hand-out crowd. “This is the first time we ran [the Cherry Festival Race] as a unit—our church family unit.”
Hicks, who with her husband will soon celebrate their 50th anniversary, compared the race to marriage. “There have been challenges we have been through. Being married you go through ups and downs,” she said. “We run the race all the time in life.”