"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Open My Eyes --- Open My Heart!

Since 2002 I've run a lot of Country Music Marathon Events --- either half marathons or full marathons. This year was one race for the memory book of my mind. I've never seen so many TEAM 413 shirts on a race course. I was never out of sight of a shirt with "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" on the back. I have never been in such awe of what God has done in our ministry in seven short years. It is truly amazing!
The expo was one of the most successful in the history of our ministry for several reasons. We were able to introduce TEAM 413 to thousands of people, we were able to hug old friends & TEAM 413 supporters, and we were able to raise significant funds for the ministry. God was glorified in the convention hall at the expo and then it was continued to the streets of Nashville on Saturday.
We met under the "Golden Arches" of McDonalds, as is our custom in Nashville, for a short devotion and prayer. It was great to see people truly show up to worship prior to running the race. We shared a few words of encouragement, had prayer, and then we were off to the start of the race.
As I approached the start line with my corral, John Bingham once again acknowledged me on the PA system. This is so kind of him and validates all those people running for our ministry. With impending weather delayed a bit --- he asked me, "did you have anything to do with this?" He knows that I would pray about it and everyone also got a chuckle out of his remark. I really appreciate him doing the things he does to help us in situations like that. So, thanks, John!
The race started and the floodgates of emotion would come in waves for me. I never lost sight of a TEAM 413 shirt during the entire half marathon. I literally saw hundreds of shirts. I saw OLD shirts from several years ago. I saw shirts that I knew we sold in other cities. I saw new shirts sold over the two days of the expo. It was an eye opener to me. With so many people in the race (34,000) and the course running the path that it does, you are able to see people going away from you and then coming back toward you. It gave me an interesting perspective so I could see a lot of people. That's rare for me.
On this day, it hit me of the impact that our ministry has had on lives from all over the world. Over 30,000 people wear our shirts. People wear TEAM 413 bracelets, temporary tattoos, caps, and t-shirts. Thousands of people walk by our booth at events all over the country. Literally, MILLIONS of people have been influenced by the simple ministry of TEAM 413. This multitude of people has allowed us to become a visible and viable part of the running community and there is no place that this is more apparent than Nashville, Tennessee.
Thanks to all of you who make TEAM 413 go! Thank you for your support in your words and actions. Thank you for sharing your love for your Lord and Savior with "whosoever" along life's path. You are heroes of the faith!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boston 2010 - Part 2 - Jennifer Marquez

Jennifer Marquez is an amazing young lady in so many ways. She is a graduate student in nutrition at the University of Florida in Gainesville. I believe that she will go very far in her chosen field of study. She reminds me of my daughters. She is full of energy, sweet, and tenacious -- A rare mix of toughness and tenderness at the same time. She has the heart of a servant!

I first met Jennifer at the 2009 running of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. Then, in the fall of 2009 while Kiki and I were driving back from the Bass Pro Shops Marathon in Springfield, Missouri, Jennifer called me. She told me of her dream and desire to see TEAM 413 represented with a booth at the Boston Marathon Expo. She told me that she wanted to raise the funds necessary for the booth space. I gave her permission to do what she could and we made some preliminary plans. Jennifer went to work and raised the amount needed to get us to Boston!

This past weekend she was able to see her dream become a reality. For the first time since 2004 TEAM 413 had a booth at one of the most well known and respected marathons in the world. She got to work the booth. She was able to talk to lots of old friends and new people. She got to experience the “inside” of the booth after seeing the “outside” of the booth. That's something that I'll never be able to do but love giving other people that unique opportunity.

I have now come to know and respect Jennifer for her desire, tenacity, motivation, drive, sense of humor, ability to get the job done, and so much more. However, more than anything, I came to know her as a sister in Christ. She loves the Lord with all her heart and it shows in her face, her heart, in her words, and in her actions.

Jennifer will go far in whatever she chooses to do in life and I am so proud to have her on our team. God bless you, Jennifer! You made your dream come true and at the same time fulfilled one of ours too!

Under HIS Grace…


Friday, April 16, 2010

Boston 2010 - Part I - Ed Walsh

TEAM 413 is at the Boston Marathon Expo for the first time since 2004. So, I thought it fitting to write about some people who have made a difference in my life that somehow relate to Boston. This weekend I'll be sharing stories of God's grace and provision that have a "tie" to the Boston Marathon.
I first met my friend, Ed Walsh, at the 2004 running of the Boston Marathon. He came by our expo booth and I remember chatting with him about our very small ministry and how great it was to be a part of one of the greatest running events in the world. Ed purchased a TEAM 413 shirt that day. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" was printed on the back of that shirt. Six years later the verse remains on the back of all of our shirts. The font has not changed. The size of the verse has not changed. The back of those shirts are identifiable all over the world as TEAM 413.
Ed wore his shirt on that Boston race day and later told me about his journey. I'm going from complete memory but, basically he strained his calf early in the race. Another runner who wore one of our shirts stopped and prayed for him --- it may have been more than one person who prayed for Ed that day --- but, still, a brother in Christ identified him, made an effort to stop, and prayed for Ed to finish the race. He finished his Boston Marathon and he believes that God wanted him to finish in that way and run the race that he did so only God would get the glory.
That's the way Ed and I met. However, our friendship over the miles continues today. Ed lives in California and I live in Alabama. We see each other rarely but, he supports TEAM 413 to this day and over the miles. Ed is a great runner - a "marathon maniac" - a wonderful man of God. Ed has supported TEAM 413 through financial gifts, through prayer, through words of encouragement, as a Facebook friend, and now as a TEAM 413 Ambassador. He's been a constant figure in my life as I've led TEAM 413. He has been an inspiration to me in more ways that he will ever know!
Do you need someone to push you a little harder? Do you need a role model in your walk with Christ? Do you need some encouragement along your life's journey? If so, I know a guy who can teach you much! His name is Ed Walsh. I consider it an honor to call him my friend and brother in Christ. He is one of the many blessings in my life.
Keep running and sharing the story of Jesus with everyone you meet, Ed! See you down the road!
Under HIS Grace...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reality Check!

For a little more than seven years we've been traveling the roads of this country with a very simple ministry for runners and other endurance athletes that we call TEAM 413. It's simple because we've never had to ask anyone to join anything, raise any money, or pay any fees. We have just asked people to wear a TEAM 413 shirt and share their faith along their journey. It's been a very productive way to grow this once small ministry into a very large non-profit organization that is now recognized all over the world.
However, we still function on a small budget and we cannot continue the old model for the ministry if we continue to grow at the pace which we are growing today. More than 30,000 people wear our ministry shirts around the world. They are a real part of the TEAM 413 family. We would like to allow these folks to be more involved and to see the big picture of our ever growing ministry. We want them to be a bigger part of what we are doing other than just wearing a shirt at running events. We want them to have ownership in this very visible and viable entity in the running and endurance community. The impact of TEAM 413 is huge! But, it can be so much more.
At the beginning of the year we started a fundraising campaign. We asked people to give what they could to our ministry. We asked for 1,000 people to give $25.00 per month. We asked people to make a one time gift. We asked those who have been touched by the ministry of TEAM 413 to step up and help during the biggest growth spurt in our history. We set a lofty goal to raise $250,000 by the end of 2010. Almost four months into this campaign we have raised a little over $10,000. To reach our goal, we must raise $20,000 a month. That being the case, we are significantly behind. We've got to get going now!
More than 70 percent of the dollars that we have received thus far have been given or raised by three individuals. These people have stepped up because they believe in TEAM 413 and they have seen the impact of our ministry! There are others who have stepped up to give $25 a month. However, I am deeply troubled by the lack of contributions and support from many who say they believe in TEAM 413.
I can assure all of you that we will never require fundraising for someone to be a part of TEAM 413. Nevertheless, it is an option that many can choose to take. You can make a one time gift. You can commit to a monthly gift. You can sign up to be a TEAM 413 fundraiser and ask friends and relatives to give. There are many ways to help and we need that financial support now more than ever.
Most people are unaware that NONE of our officers or board members receive a salary. We don't have office space -- we function out of the Gillespie home and garage. Every dollar that is raised goes directly toward ministry needs. It's a simple fact that in order to move forward, we must raise significant dollars and I believe that God wants us to get going and grow TEAM 413 NOW.
The hardest thing that I do as Executive Director of TEAM 413 is ask for money .... but, it comes with the territory. I have no choice --- I have to ask. However, you do have a choice. You can be a part of the growth of TEAM 413 --- It is your choice.
To give or to set up a fundraising page, go to the following link:
Under HIS Grace...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jesus Runs

I believe that Jesus RAN. God the Father told Jesus that we needed him. Jesus responded that He was willing to run the race and so He ran! He ran out the gates of Heaven to the start line on this earth. He ran the race of human life as He lived with us for more than 30 years. He ran with all types of people. He ran with the rich and the poor. He ran with people of different cultures. He ran with the sick, injured, and downtrodden. He ran alongside mankind and experienced the tough challenges of the miles and miles of life. He felt the pain that we feel. He saw the things that we see. He was a part of the human race.

Then the Father said that we needed Christ even more. So, Jesus ran up Mount Calvary with a cross on His back. He allowed us to nail Him to the cross and to make fun of Him. He still loved us even though we turned our backs on Him. In the end, He looked into all of our eyes and said to us, “If I cannot love you, I cannot love another because YOU are the love of my life!”

He ran for each of us and then He finished the race on this earth and declared, “IT IS FINISHED!” He stayed in the grave for three days and then He ran out of the tomb. He ran back to Heaven and told the Father of the race. He told Him how He ran the same course that we run. He became our advocate. He told His Dad that He understands us now. I believe that Jesus still runs to the Father each time we do the things that please Him. I can hear Him ---


Jesus runs for you! He came running to us through mercy and grace. He ran from the start to finish so that He could live on common ground with us.

The results of our earthly marathon will not be posted until the day when Christ runs back for us. Make it your goal to finish life strong so that your results will be posted and the FATHER and the SON will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant! You ran the race and finished strong! Welcome HOME!”

Jesus runs! Do you?

Excerpt from the book GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN © by Chris A. Gillespie