03 Dec Philly Recap – Proclaimed Liberty!
Join LIFE Runners from around the world for the 2017 Pensacola 5K, Half, Full Marathon weekend (Nov 11-12).
“He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives.” ~ Isaiah 61:1
* LifeSiteNews (6 Deb 2016): LIFE Runners go the extra mile for the unborn at Philadelphia Marathon.
* Catholic Philly (22 Nov 2016): Life Runners witness to the unborn at Philadelphia Marathon.
75 LIFE Runners united for the Philadelphia Marathon/Half/8K (Nov 18-20) to Proclaim Liberty for all, born and unborn! The weekend was a whirlwind of emotional moments, team bonding, and spiritual growth (see schedule). These Fall race retreats may be anything but restful, but they recharge you in a way that leaves a lasting impression. Weekend rally song – listen to Fix My Eyes – “Live life for another, Fight for the weak ones, Speak out for freedom, Find faith in the battle, Stand tall but above it all, Fix my eyes on You, on You.” God first, Life always, Teammates forever! Philly Photo Album.
Friday we hit the ground running as we converged on Philadelphia and rallied at the race Expo. It is always so exciting to see friends from all over the nation and the world, like a family reunion of the body of Christ. It didn’t take long for the sea of blue to grow and people at the Expo started commenting on our jersey message “REMEMBER The Unborn, Jer 1:5.” We had many great conversations serving as Pro-Life missionaries. Friday night we all gathered at the Philadelphia Basilica for an awesome pre-race dinner provided by the Coffey family. We spent that time team building and listened to Dr. Pat Castle cast the big vision on things to come. We had some very special and honored guests with us, Bishop Paprocki and Fr. Joe Coffey. Not only did they come to take part in the team activities but to race with us as well. It was a spiritually charged gathering.
Saturday started early with the half marathon and 8K which involved most of our teammates (Marathon was next day). Sharon Skeel and her Philadelphia LIFE Runners Chapter had a great hospitality room set up at the Basilica for pre-race prayer and post-race refreshments. They had a beautiful day for racing, and we were able to cheer many of them across the finish line. Wearing LIFE Runners gear has become second nature to many of us, but it is easy to forget that some do not approve of our message. Many encouraged us, but there were also those who made their disapproval clear. We must raise awareness, we must stand for truth, we must not give up! A trip to Philadelphia would not be complete without running up the steps at the Art Museum or taking pictures with the Rocky statue. We spent significant time on the museum steps taking it all in and hopefully reaching others with our jersey message of hope.
Later we peacefully gathered to pray at a Planned Parenthood facility tucked discretely in the city. Within moments of gathering on the sidewalk in front of the gates, many could not hold back tears from the sorrow of the place. We stood in a long blue line along the edge of the road, not blocking anyone, just peaceful prayer. We had LIFE Runners Creed holy cards which we prayed silently for 30 minutes and then finished praying the Creed together. Our hearts were truly overcome by so much death and destruction tucked away between small cafes and shops. You could feel the darkness that drew women in out of desperation, preying on the hurting and hopeless. This same darkness would spit them out after destroying the life they were carrying and leave them deeply wounded. While we prayed, many people walked by confused by our presence and then looked up to realize that a Planned Parenthood was hidden there. Shining our light on that place brought awareness. There were some that swore and yelled at us, but regardless of the anger and threats we remained prayerful and peaceful. One man said “get out of our neighborhood, just leave us alone.” When society protects the right to kill over the right to life, the enemy has truly hardened hearts. We should defend life from conception to eternity, but many have surrendered to a perversion of truth cloaked as choice.
Above the gate read “THESE DOORS STAY OPEN.” They promised their doors would remain open but in fact their doors are closed, closed to those who are seeking real choices, closed to those who need the safety of advice without the coercion of a profitable agenda, closed to those who have been abused, and most certainly closed to those who have been wounded by abortion. Their doors are closed to women who need compassion and love. Planned Parenthood deals in death and there is no healing in that. Down the block sat a gem of a Pregnancy Help Center, offering open arms, open hearts, and open doors. Those who serve in Pregnancy Help Centers have no hidden agenda backed by profit. They only hope to help women truly see their choices before they make such a life altering decision. They are also the ones who pick up the pieces of women broken by abortion after Planned Parenthood closes its doors on them. Planned Parenthood must sell a woman on abortion and to do that they must first completely dehumanize the unborn. For women who realize that they have in fact killed their unborn child, Planned Parenthood has no advice to offer because it would require admitting the humanity of the unborn. Did you know that on average a Pregnancy Help Center has a two year relationship with mothers (and fathers)? Yes, PHC’s serve women before and after the birth of their child.
We followed this emotional prayer vigil with a beautiful Mass in the Basilica led by Bishop Paprocki who spoke boldly of the protection of the unborn and women against the devastation of abortion. His homily was beautiful and powerful. It was just the fuel we needed for the marathon the next morning. This would be Bishop Paprocki’s 22nd marathon and Dr. Pat Castle’s 20th marathon – All In Christ!
The weather for Sunday’s marathon was cold with strong gusty winds. Although the marathon weather was bitter, our spirits were high, and we pressed in and didn’t give up. It was truly a reflection of what we stand for, and I was reminded of mothers who find themselves in unplanned circumstances. Just as the race conditions were less than ideal, women who face unplanned pregnancies and choose life often face many challenges. There was no way any of us were going to back down to the challenging weather, if for no other reason but to honor those courageous mothers. As goes with any marathon, each of us experienced our own powerful reflections, struggles, and victories during those long miles. Our efforts, our determination, our prayers will continue to win hearts and change minds which will save lives!
It is always so encouraging to see the team grow following one of these powerful mission trips for LIFE. Hope you join the Team for the 2017 Pensacola Marathon weekend (Nov 12th). We now have over 5,000 teammates in 29 nations. Registration is open for the 2017 A-Cross America Relay, another powerful opportunity to be the voice for the voiceless. Pray the LIFE Runners Creed to end abortion. Thank you for being All In Christ for Pro-Life!