14 Oct Cheered & Jeered – Long Beach witness!
Long Beach half/full Marathon & 5K (Oct 6th & 7th) was our team’s 10th birthday race, “Decade for Life!” shirts available, next year Tulsa. We had such powerful Team ministry at the expo, abortion facility, and races with “REMEMBER The Unborn” jerseys and big banner, impacting hearts & minds for saving lives!
God opened doors for us to be an official race charity which included a booth at the expo, a first for us. We shared the mission with 15,000 participants plus thousands of supporters and spectators. “We don’t see people like you in our area.” A parent said to their child looking at our banner, “Do you know what that means?” God’s people want a way to be a voice for the voiceless and that is what we gave them. Many people signed up for the team (1 Cor 3:6), including “Jesus” and 201 students. We set up a new school chapter, a new Long Beach chapter, and a new chapter in Mexico: liferunners.org/chapters. Spanish jerseys, Spanish website, and Spanish speaking teammates were great for communicating the message to a larger audience.
Our new teammates from the expo had on their LIFE Runners jersey in the races. We maintained a positive and powerful Pro-Life presence from start to finish as we held the big banner and cheered participants during all 3 races. We received ironic positive comments like “hell ya!” and ironic negative comments like “it’s all science!” Our scientist, Dr. Pat, quickly said with a smile, “yes and the science belongs to God.” Others shared ignorant comments like, “more people die from the flu shot” which humored St. Louis chapter leader (and nurse) Amy Kosta. We were mostly cheered and high fived, but also jeered, flipped off, and spit on (Grant Fenske’s sleeve below). We responded to all with joy, encouragement, love, and prayer.
At the 5K on Saturday morning, we met Angela who has Down Syndrome. We gave Angela a high five while she was racing the Long Beach 5K. Her Mom wanted to stop for a photo with our big blue “REMEMBER The Unborn” banner but Angela kept racing forward. At the finish line, Angela gave us all hugs. We gave her a LIFE Runners wristband and sign. Angela is a powerful sign that all life is precious. Those with Down Syndrome are aborted at these rates – US (80%), UK (90%), Denmark (98%), Iceland (99%). Share your support and stories to defend their right to life.
After the 5K on Saturday, we spent more time witnessing at the expo where we learned that Judge Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court at 3pm ET (the Hour of Mercy). Saturday afternoon we prayed at the local Planned Parenthood. A concerned neighbor warned us to not walk in the alley near Planned Parenthood, or we may be killed. Six police cars blocked traffic so we could pray in peace. Our national chaplain Bishop Paprocki led the Rosary, blind teammate Tina Jenkins led the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and then board member Fr. Coffey spoke about pressing forward to make abortion not only illegal but unthinkable! We met a post-abortion mother who prayed with us and is now a LIFE Runner. We then visited a beautiful nearby pregnancy help center.
Bishop Paprocki and Fr. Coffey celebrated Mass with us at the Church of the Holy Innocents. After being spiritually drained on the sidewalk we were revived and refreshed by Bishop Paprocki’s powerful homily.
The church hosted a pre-race dinner where we got to fellowship with the congregation and share more about the LIFE Runners mission.
Teammates gathered before each race to pray the LIFE Runners Creed: Prayer, Endurance, Awareness, Charity, to End abortion (PEACE).
Each teammate had a story from the weekend. Some faced opposition from pro-abortion supporters and all received words of encouragement. Bishop Paprocki ran his 24th marathon, and blind teammate Tina Jinkens ran her first marathon. Tina’s training guide, Kansas City chapter leader TD Dorrell, had an injury, so the Long Beach Marathon found another guide, who is now a LIFE Runner. Tina smiled and said it wasn’t a big deal to start the marathon in the dark and didn’t notice any “visual disdain” for our message. Late in the marathon, Tina was offered a “Nuun” water, and she replied, “I could use a nun’s prayers right now.”
Prissila Burgos raced her first half marathon and offered it up for her Mom and her daughter Fatima (lived 5 days after birth) who was buried in nearby Anaheim, both passed away last year. God First, Life Always, Teammates Forever!
LIFE Runners brought the Pro-Life message to Long Beach and many were hungry for it. We speak hope and cheer on women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. We encourage them forward to the next mile, the next stage of life. We are not here for a sprint, we are here for the marathon. LIFE Runners Creed, “We run to build Endurance, for the race is long and we must keep our eyes fixed on You Lord.” Read Karen’s Long Beach reflection. See full Long Beach photo album.