For two years now, the family of OKC First has showed our support to the victims and survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing, and to our City and community as a whole, by being visibly involved in the Memorial Marathon. Several individuals in our church have been involved for much longer.
This year many of us wore VERY bright yellow shirts to let everyone know that we belong together, and together we are a part of this city.
There were over fifty people who ran in the race, whether it was in the 5K, 10K, relay, half or full marathon. Many more people came to cheer on the runners at the three different cheering stations and at the finish line. Last year we had a few water stations, but this year we decided to put all of our focus into cheering on those who have trained so hard and sacrificed to run in the race.
Mike Stutzman ran the full marathon again this year. “This was my third time to do the full distance and one of the things that helps me get through the long four months of training miles in near isolation is the prospect of seeing familiar faces from OKC First out on the course when race day FINALLY comes,” he said.
Mike said he runs in different events in triumph after having stared down diabetes and obesity but the Memorial run is special. He remembers when the bombing took place, as most of us can.
“I like the idea of our city and our church remembering the senselessness of that day and countering it with an act of hope, courage, strength, and vitality,” he said. “In my way of seeing it, those ideas beat terrorism every time.”
The staff of OKC First is already dreaming about how we can better embrace the families in our neighborhood that were affected by the bombing. They are excited about next year’s event on April 28, as we look forward to adopting families that have lost a loved one.
Pastor Jon says this about why we participate:
1. PRESENCE- The Marathon memorializes the bomb that took so many lives on April 19, 1995. The pain of loss still lingers seventeen years later; our city continues to be shaped by this nightmarish tragedy. We run and participate to be PRESENT with and for our city, to share in the burden of loss and the passion for a better future. If we want to be a church for the city, we need to be at this race.
2. HOSPITALITY- If you’ve ever run in a long-distance race, you know the power of the people cheering you on. I remember being nourished by those along the streets and curbs, clapping and shouting words of encouragement. What an amazing, working picture of our posture as Christians! Like we read in Hebrews 12, we can be the great cloud of witnesses cheering folks on to the finish. So we’re not just PRESENT; we are also HOSPITABLE, caring for the needs of those daring to run.
3. HEALTH- For many years now we’ve said that the Gospel is about bodies and lives, not just souls. That said, we understand our efforts to exercise and take care of ourselves as acts of worship, meant to glorify the Author of Life. We run and participate in order to communicate that HEALTH matters to God and the people of God.