Papua New Guinea runners beat the odds
Papua New Guinea runners beat the odds
8 July 2019
“God was with me and gave me the strength to stay strong and keep going.”
“It was challenging, but I kept thinking about God, my corps and my country and was determined to finish and represent them well.”
“I focused on the scripture that through Christ, I could do all things, even a marathon, and I made it and finished strong.”
These are just some of the comments from the nine young people from Papua New Guinea who successfully completed their first marathon (42km) race yesterday, as part of The Salvation Army Hope and a Future program.
The aim of the program is to help develop these young people – most of whom are already serving in their corps – into future leaders in their church, community and workplaces.
The impact of the program goes far beyond completing a marathon – as significant as that impact is. It helps take their growth and development spiritually, personally and educationally to a level that transforms their lives, the lives of those around them, and beyond.
Several program participants overcame tough personal circumstances just to complete the training and confront the physical and psychological challenges of the race.
See their stories below.
Rebecca, a qualified journalist in PNG, rents a room with shared facilities and limited running water that takes almost all of her very modest income, leaving her eating noodles for dinner and struggling to afford the bus to work.
She had planned to share the room with her brother Josh but tragically, he passed away earlier this year, aged only 24.
Despite her grief and financial hardship, Rebecca completed the marathon training and, wearing a running bib bearing Josh’s name, ran the 42km.
“People were calling out encouragement to Josh when they saw the name on my bib, and, although I was crying, that gave me more energy and I was determined to finish,” she said.
Rebecca has been offered a ministry internship in the United Kingdom and hopes to use her educational grant to make that possible.
The youngest participant Samantha (Sammy) is only 18. She grew up attending The Salvation Army with her grandmother and is now on the worship team and leads the dance group at Koki Corps.
Sammy had not been able to attend or finish primary school for some time but was determined to finish her education and worked several jobs in order to put herself through.
Sammy plans to use her educational grant through Hope and a Future to complete high school and become an air hostess to represent her country around the world.
“It’s by God’s plan that I am here and I am so thankful,” she said. “This week we go to Equip camp, and I am so excited about all that I can learn and take back to teach at home.”
McAllister tore a muscle during training for the marathon and is now on crutches, but continued to train with his leg strapped. He was determined to finish the race.
“God gave me the strength to do this,” he said. “When I got to the 20km mark, the pain started and was so bad I felt like I wanted to give up.
“But I knew I was running, not just for me, but for my teammates, my mentors, my corps, and the medal, so I forced myself to finish, despite the pain. I am now on crutches and strapped up, ready for the next part of the program.
“Into the future, I would like to use my educational grant to study mechanical engineering.”
Laurel completed the marathon as a participant last year, and this year served as a mentor to the girls who were running for the first time.
“It was challenging, but awesome, to both help the girls train, run another marathon and cheer the others on,” she said. “God was with me, with us, and gave us strength to keep going.”
Laurel is completing her high school education and wants to study nursing. The educational grant from the program has made this possible.
“I can’t thank this project enough for changing my life,” she said.