The 35th and the Marathon
This coming Sunday is the 35th anniversary of Willow Creek Community Church. On a warm October day in 1975, Bill and I and 125 other young (and very immature!) Christians held our first Sunday service in a movie theater—the Willow Creek Theater in Palatine, Illinois. I’d love to recapture the youth I enjoyed on that October day, but I wouldn’t want to give up the growth and maturity that 35 years have brought—both to me as an individual and to the Willow congregation. I’m especially grateful to see our congregation becoming more and more committed to looking beyond our own doors and showing God’s love to people around the world—sometimes in some very creative ways!
On Sunday, while many of us will be celebrating at Willow, 186 people from Willow will be running in the Chicago Marathon for Team World Vision. The group, which includes 11 Willow staff members and one elder, has already raised over $118,000 to provide clean water for children and families in Africa. Last year my son Todd ran the marathon for Team World Vision and this year my daughter Shauna is running. In addition to being Henry’s mom and Aaron’s wife, Shauna is an extraordinary author in the midst of an intense book tour, where she’s been training for the marathon on unfamiliar streets in unfamiliar cities. Below is part of a letter she sent out this week to family and friends—as the reality of marathon weekend hit her. By the way, if you haven’t made a donation to World Vision on behalf of your favorite runner, feel free to donate on behalf of mine!
I'm writing from a hotel in Atlanta, and I just officially had my first marathon dream: I couldn't get my bib on, so I couldn't run. I was frustrated and embarrassed, but I decided that I'd just run my own marathon the next day--in my parents' driveway. Hmm.
So clearly the nerves are kicking in, the training is done, and it's almost race day. You all know that as of March, I was a long-time, confirmed non-runner....and also that I've really really enjoyed the training process. It's been hard...but not as hard as I expected, and some of that is because I really believe in the cause we're running for.
World Vision is a fantastic organization that my family has been supporting and connected to for a long time. There are all sorts of details about our team and about very specifically where the money that's raised is going here.
The money we're raising goes to provide clean water in Africa, a literal issue of life and death. Many mornings out on our training runs, our coaches encouraged us to drink lots and lots of water from the water stations our TWV volunteers provide for us...and also to think, as we drank, about what it would be like to not have clean water for your family and children.
For me, on those mornings, water was the difference between a migraine and a great run...but for many moms on the other side of the world, clean water is the difference between health and disease for her children. I absolutely cannot imagine.
If you'd like to support me and Team World Vision, the easiest way to do it is to mail me a check made out to World Vision. You can send it to Willow Creek Community Church/Shauna Niequist, 67 East Algonquin Road, S. Barrington, IL 60010
And if you're thinking of us on Sunday, we'd love your prayers. I'm planning to run with a few other women for whom this is their first race, too, and we'd love your prayers for physical strength, mental focus, and courage.
With love and thanks-- Shauna