Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

Imagine… 200 miles…. 33 hours… 12 member team running through the Arizona desert for a cause! Well that’s the Ragnar Del Sol Relay that takes place on February 24-25, 2011. The Ragnar Del Sol Relay stretches from Wickenburg to Tempe, AZ. I am joining Arizona Youth Partnership’s twelve member team will be participating in the relay to keep resources available for under-served communities.

What is Ragnar?

The Ragnar Relay is a 200 mile relay race from Wickenburg to Tempe with 12 runners per team. It begins on Friday, February 24th in the morning and the ends on Saturday, February 25th in the afternoon. Each runner runs 3 legs of the race that range from 3.5 to 9 miles and vary in difficulty.

Why?

Together we are raising money for Arizona Youth Partnership’s (AzYP) Basic Center Program for Homeless youth in rural Arizona. Arizona is ranked 4th in the nation for families living in poverty. AzYP has recently taken steps to secure community support and funding for a Basic Center in Kingman, Arizona.  This program is designed to prevent homelessness by providing a temporary shelter for youth ages 12-18 who are in crisis.

How can you help?

One of the ways that I am helping with this is raising $500. Every tax deductible donation will go directly to support Arizona Youth Partnership’s Basic Center Program. Click here to go to my donation page. Also feel free to check out the goals of the Basic Center Program below and my “Runner Profile” for this years race.

The goals of the program are:

1) Provide emergency shelter and services to runaway and homeless youth (RHY) and their families.
2) Provide outreach, support services, and referrals to youth at-risk for runaway or homelessness.

Race Profile

Like Ragnar, fun is the name of the game… this profile reflects that.

  • Name: Michael Miller
  • Nickname: Mike… or Dash Rawhide: Zippy McChafkins as a Cowboy
  • Runner #: 3
  • Amount of miles: 22.4 miles
  • Race History: In 1482 BC the a cultural phenomenon began on the island of Fartlek, where teams of twelve domesticated chinchillas were raced as a way to determine if the local tribe of the Saucony would stay on the north or south side of the island.  What they feared the most was that they would anger the gods and usher in Ragnar-rok. Unbeknownst to them the local population of chinchillas didn’t enjoy running, but preferred sitting back and drinking daiquiris, and soon organized and moved to Key West. Having no way to determine what part of the island to live on, they decided the only option was to assemble teams of twelve to run around the full 210 mile circumference of the island and hope that would be enough to assuage the expectations of the island gods. What came from this tradition was the cultural race of Ragnar, which has been observed for the past 3,500 years. Betcha didn’t know.
  • Personal philosophy on running: Running with friends is far better than running with hungry lions.
  • What is your favorite running quote? To a runner, a side stitch is like a car alarm.  It signifies something is wrong, but you ignore it until it goes away.
  • Why are you running the Ragnar?  Because I love running, I love road trips and I love AZYP… I don’t know why I wouldn’t.
  • If you happen to drop your phone in a cattle guard, what is your strategy to get it out? Hire a chinchilla with the promise of a daiquiri to scamper down and grab it for me.
  • What is your greatest fear running Ragnar this year?  I don’t know if I have any… possibly that I will have to run in denim
  • How will you pass time between each of your runs?  Taking pictures, cheering on other runners and talking trash about how my van is better than the other van.
  • What is your training strategy?  I’m training for a marathon the month before, so after that my goal is to keep up the training and get as many “kills” and zombie “kills” as possible.
  • Imagine: You are running 8 miles uphill at 6am. You receive a picture text of a wonderful breakfast that runners from the other van are eating. What do you do?  Nothing, there are some people who can’t hang… I’m not so soft, and I have no problem running 8 miles uphill at 6am. Enjoy your breakfast, we’ll send you a picture of lunch .
  • Describe the feeling of finishing Ragnar. Have you ever seen the joy brought to a chinchilla if you buy them a daiquiri? Yeah it’s something like that.
  • At what mile will you regret signing up for this? Mile 42… but I wont have to run that far.
  • What do you like/dislike about running overnight?  Not seeing the ground dip away when you are running on dirt trails, but when you look like someone out of Tron, it is all worth it.
  • What’s your favorite post running food?  Roasted Chinchilla… okay, no … Anything that Kari makes.
  • What is your favorite Ragnar memory?  Hands down it was progression of Andrew laying on the ground and the lost/retrieval of the phone from the clutches of a cattle guard. If I had a close second, it would be cheering Gauri on during the last leg, I loved her adamant perseverance and the camaraderie of a team that was going to cheer through any pain.

And Jonah stalked
to his shaded seat
and waited for God
to come around
to his way of thinking.
And God is still waiting for a host of Jonahs
in their comfortable houses
to come around
to his way of loving.

excerpt from Thomas Carlisle’s “You Jonah”

The past six/seven months have been packed with transition and learning, and I haven’t had the will or wisdom to write. Today while sitting at a Starbucks praying through a project at church and what it looks like to have a heart for missions I realized that much of “Thoughts from a Runner” really could be summed up by the book of Jonah.

One particular similarity knocked the feet from underneath me this morning…

The past eight years as I have grown deeper in my walk with God. I am beginning to see that this growth has been a constant process of God calling me to live a life on mission, me fighting it and then, through His amazing grace inviting, and molding, and shaping me to have his heart for the people around me.

  • Ministry at the University of Arizona
  • On Mission in Kazahkstan
  • Reaching College Students in Australia
  • Helping lost people find their way back to God in Tucson
What does this have to do with Jonah?

Jonah is such an amazing book because we can see God still working to teach, to reach his thick-skulled missionary with the truth of who He is and His heart for the nations. That the entire book of Jonah is about God working on Jonah’s heart. What I realized this morning is that, like Jonah, I can many time miss the point of the storm, the sailors, the fish, Nineveh and most importantly a gourd tree.

A gourd tree?

When I got back from Australia I was blessed, due to no real effort on my part, with the comfort of an amazing community.

At the end of the book of Jonah, after everything God has done, Jonah still doesn’t get this call to live a life on mission. God uses one more approach – the miraculous tree (Jonah 4:5-11). A climbing gourd springs up quickly, and offers Jonah protection against the beating sun. The community that I was a part of was totally God given and such a blessing. What we see in the story, is that as quickly as the tree grew it withers and dies, the victim of an attacking worm.

Jonah is… annoyed.

At that point God again turns to his missionary-student, using the tree as a lesson. The creator of heaven and earth, the God of human history, of wind and waves, who spoke the universe into being, who just miraculously redeemed and restored the entire city of Nineveh to himself, tenderly asks Jonah, “Are you really so angry about the tree?”

Jonah in anger and frustration responds: “Yes, angry enough to die.”

God’s response to such bitterness is so beautiful. Despite everything that has happened up to this point, He is still calling Jonah to join him on mission, to “his way of loving”:

“You are sorry and concerned about the tree, though you had nothing to do with growing it, a plant which came up in a night and withered in a night. My heart and concern is for the great city of Nineveh, with its 120,000 who cannot tell their right hand from their left.”

While I wasn’t aware of it until today, I have been quietly discontented and annoyed with God causing the comfort that I experienced with this community to wither away. Despite this, over the past few months I have experienced a tender questioning: “Are you really so angry that I took that community away? What about the city around you?”

If I’m honest my response to God has been at times just as mature as Jonah’s.

By God’s grace, however, I am growing not only an awareness, but a deep heartfelt sorrow and concern for the 1,020,000 people in the Tucson area who “do not know their right hand from their left.” Beginning to sincerely yearn to proclaim the gospel students at the University of Arizona. To share hope and good news with broken families in the foothills and South Tucson alike. To show God’s grace and love to the thousands of international refugees who call the Old Pueblo home. To join with other Christians to come alongside the numerous military families who currently call Tucson… home.

As God works on my heart, I am growing to care more about the rescue and redemption of those in the mission field that God has called me to than I do my comfort.

It has been a hard lesson, and this thick-skulled man is grateful for God’s forgiveness and grace, humbled by God’s provision as He has provides fellowship and community, and most of all, in awe of God’s tireless and tender call for me to join his missionary heart – to live a life focused and dedicated to “Helping lost people find their way back to God.”