The wind, mixed with fine mist coming from the ocean, struck my face. My lips and throat were dry. Out of reflex, I spit, the saliva flying forward a few centimeters, then suddenly zipping behind me.
I was running, and along with the other racers around me, the sea gusts of almost 15 knots violently pushed everything that came across the small track. It was Kwajalein Day – a holiday commemorating the liberation of Kwajalein Atoll during World War II – and we were participating in the most important marathon on the island. Another missionary and I were running on behalf of our school: Ebeye Seventh-day Adventist School.
The track was surrounded on the left and right by the blue sea, whose majestic and impressive waves rose and rolled on themselves, coming to a break on an invisible barrier just a few meters from me. The colossal force of nature reminded me of the infinite power of Him who created it and said: “This far you will come, but no farther, and here your proud waves will be stopped" (Job 38: 11).
The horizontal thrust of the wind was so strong that with every step, I had to flatten my trajectory to continue moving forward. And as if that were not enough, the track was sandy and strewn with stones because heavy rain had raised the tide the day before the marathon and left many obstacles on our route. In front of me was the leading competitor, running so fast that I had trouble keeping up. Behind me, another was hot on my heels.
My heart was racing, but I had to move on. I had to run, and I had to reach the finish line. I was a seasoned athlete, but this was my first marathon. Fifteen kilometers to run and all my muscles begin to ask me, “How did I come to participate in this marathon?” After several years serving in Hong Kong, my family decided to continue our mission in a new country. God made the way for us to come to Guam-Micronesia Mission, where a vast missionary field provided diverse possibilities to serve Him.
I was a nurse in pediatrics and had worked for more than 15 years in my home country of Cameroon before deciding to take a two-year sabbatical to serve as a missionary. I began my service as a youth ministry and Bible worker for the Hong Kong-Macao SDA Conference. I fell in love with mission work and prolonged my sabbatical.I wanted to use my influence in a strategic way to direct the attention of young students to the true teacher who is Jesus Christ. Preparing them for the present life and the future has given mean other purpose.
I saw God's plan in my life. My work with patients had predisposed me to successfully engaging children and their parents in conversation. In addition, I could easily approach people from different cultures using the health message. I took advantage of this to promote health through a vegetarian diet.
God redirected us to GMM, specifically to Ebeye SDA School. However, we quickly became disenchanted with many things when we arrived at Ebeye. Fruits and vegetables in Ebeye were as scarce as water in a desert. Everything that was easily found was in cans. Vegetarianism got off to a bad start because the main diet of the island is rice and plenty of meat. As a result, most of the residents were affected by diabetes, with many already on insulin. The extreme consumption of canned goods, sugar, and sodas, as well as the lack of physical exercise was a scourge that affected the whole island.
Having expressed our vegetarian diet concern to the school principal, he showed us a tree planted in the middle of the apartment courtyard. Its leaves and fruits could be eaten, its flower could be brewed into tea, and this tree had grown only at the Adventist apartment. The leaves of this tree multiplied so quickly that the tree stayed green all year. To us, it was a sign that wherever the Lord sends His children, He directs everything.
Unfortunately, such a tree had no value for locals, who appreciated meat and canned food more. That is why my wife and I had started a strategy called: Reeducate Your Tongue. We would implement activities at school that included cooking classes for healthy food. Participating in the Kwajalein Day marathon was part of the plan because we wanted to use it as a communication springboard to introduce the benefits of healthy eating.
The Bible tells us that: “There are many plans in a man's heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord will stand” (Proverbs 19: 21).
Fifteen kilometers to go, wondering if I would make it. The pack at the front ran so fast that my heart couldn't keep up. And I heard a voice ask me this question: “Why are you running? Do you run to be the best or to represent God?”
I thought of 1 Corinthians 9:25 for my answer: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
My heart had more than an emotional response to this call, because just as I began to run out of breath, my vision cleared and I continued the race with new zeal. I finished the race in seventh position!
The Eternal One strengthens our plans when we entrust them to Him, then He uses us, not according to the values that the world appreciates, but to heavenly values. This marathon opened a corridor of conversation and respect among the students because only a few locals participated in the competition. The goal was to turn their attention on the rest of the plan.
When the Lord sends us, He leaves us the freedom to call on the talents He has entrusted to us and to intentionally plan any good deeds that can give Him glory. We run the race to bring people's attention to the source of true happiness: Jesus Christ.