Four pastors from Michigan are training to race in an IRONMAN Triathlon in Louisville, KY on October 9, 2016. They are using this 140.6 mile race as a vehicle to raise money for 20 scholarships in the amount of $1,406 for students that are training for careers in churches and Christian schools.This article is a repost from their blog, which can be found here. Update: As of June, 2016, 15 weeks away from the race, the effort has raised over $8,000.
Why? Why in the world would you do that?
Those are the responses I’ve received after throwing out the soft lob that I was thinking about doing an IRONMAN. Swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, and running 26.2 is a daunting task for anyone, let alone for someone with a demanding job, a wife and four children, and graduate work. I don’t necessarily look the part either, being more “Clydesdale” than “gazelle.”
First off, I’m prone to hyperbole. This has generally served me well as a preacher. I like to throw out grandiose statements and see what sticks. In this case, a few big comments offered up around some bonfires with my friend Drew Gruenhagen turned out to be fueled by more than liquid courage while on a relaxing vacation. Something sparked around those camping trip fires. Hyperbole turned into discussion, first fearful, but eventually excited discussion about how cool it would be to accomplish the ultimate in endurance—at least as far as we’re concerned.
We also began to consider how this race could serve as a conduit to something bigger. And therein lies the truest answer to why I’m embarking on this journey. I am a proud graduate of Concordia University in Chicago. I could not have graduated from there without the financial assistance I received. No lie, two years in a row I was ready to withdraw, only to receive an unexpected scholarship from the local chapter of the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League. I have never taken the blessings I received for granted, and have attempted to give back whenever possible. So when the Lutheran churches in Michigan agreed at a convention this summer to start Here We Stand, a campaign that would, in part, provide scholarships for local students studying at a Concordia University to become professional church workers, this IRONMAN venture found its deeper purpose. I, along with three like-minded pastor friends, am going to use this opportunity to raise money for future pastors, teachers at Lutheran schools, musicians, parish nurses, and anyone else studying to serve professionally in a local church. They need our help, and we are privileged to do our small part.