Hope and perseverance

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

My sister Holly Rust Payne ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. For many years, Holly headed Concord Printing Services in town and was active in the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce. She, husband Rich and their three daughters moved north a few years back to work with Willow Creek Church outside Chicago, an inspirational and transforming enterprise that has helped plant and rejuvenate thousands of churches around the world.

Here is a note Holly sent a few weeks ago about her training:

"One of the more significant learnings for me has been regarding PACE. I've recently been leaning into the truth that God wants me to FINISH the race. Life is not a sprint... it is a marathon. The only way to finish the race and to achieve all that God wants for me is to do life at the right pace -- like you have to do when running a marathon. You can't go out too fast or you will be injured or simply can't finish. (Just ask the Olympic runner from Great Britain who stopped at mile 23 on the grueling course in Athens). We each have to figure out our own pace (which takes some work) and then we must balance life in such a way that we can maintain that pace and stay healthy. There has been so much ministry and life application for me from my learnings from running. It's been powerful. It seems each week God reveals something new. For me, running has been a true blessing.

"And, as if my personal growth and development and physical transformation isn't reward enough, my running is also benefiting a very important cause; one that I have become increasingly more and more drawn to: AIDS. Just three short weeks ago I returned from 12 days in Africa where I experienced first hand the devastation of this terrible pandemic. I shook hands, hugged and played with numerous orphans and vulnerable children and I encouraged and prayed with courageous widows and infected and affected men and women. Entire villages and communities are greatly impacted by this disease. It was a powerful experience and one that I am admittedly still processing.

"One thing I have processed however is that I am glad to be running to support the AIDS Foundation which does so much for AIDS victims right here in our own country. They're a great organization and their marathon training program has been invaluable for me. I simply could not have gotten this far without their support and weekend group runs."

Holly lost more than 80 pounds in training for the marathon, and she finished the 26.2 miles in just under six hours, worn-out and victorious. Congratulations, sis! We're proud of you!

Body and Spirit

On Sunday, First Presbyterian Church welcomed visitors through its renovated buildings during an open house. The changes made are spectacular, and the congregation should be proud. What particularly impressed me is how organically the new space coordinates with the venerable and distinct older areas, as well as the views (some of the most beautiful in Cape Girardeau) of the river and neighboring, arboreous courthouse park.

No doubt anyone who drives by the church, located at Broadway and Lorimier, has already recognized how the new facade fits perfectly with the church's original structure.

Inside, that cohesive spirit continues with the stunning views, natural light and inspirational art (some created by church members and their children. An image of Jesus by Dr. Ray Ritter is particularly striking).

The Rev. Paul Kabo greeted visitors with a broad smile, sharing the philosophy behind the new children's classrooms, explaining the history of several of the meeting rooms, and enthusiastically pointing out several artifacts discovered during the renovation. He certainly has reason to be proud. The changes make the facility an even more uplifting place to study, worship and fellowship.

Power and Fury

The St. Louis Rams offered a great lesson in perseverance this past weekend. Down by 17 points with only minutes left in the fourth quarter, they rallied to defeat previously unbeaten Seattle in overtime. Until the comeback, quarterback Marc Bulger was the goat. Instead, he turned into a hero with precise, deep passing. No matter how steep the odds, if you don't give up, you might surprise yourself.

The Cardinals baseball team powered its way to the league championship with a solid performance by pitcher Jeff Suppan on Sunday. Suppan would not have started the game except that another pitcher was injured just before the series. Again, a lesson in hope and perseverance? You bet. St. Louis' next game is tonight. Go Cardinals!

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. Contact him at jrust@semissourian.com or by calling (573) 335-6611.

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