The Saturday before Thanksgiving, Elisa and I, along with our friend Chelle, ran in races in Kansas City. Elisa ran a 10k, the longest race she’d ever run. I ran a half marathon, also the longest race I’d ever run, in 1 hour 47 minutes, about 8:13 minutes/mile pace, which I was really happy with given that I’m probably in the worst shape I’ve been in since I was 14. I’d been wanting to run a half marathon for the last several years, but had been putting it off because, we’ll, it’s really far. I’m glad I finally took that leap, though.
The night before, about 50 students came to our annual Chi Alpha Internationals Holiday Dinner–a combination Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas party. We ate a delicious dinner (which I can take no credit for cooking) of turkey, stuffing, green beans, rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy. We watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, bake Christmas cookies, and decorate a Christmas tree while answer Christmas questions. The best part, though, happens during the dessert (no surprise there).
While they munch on their delicious cobblers, I shared the Christmas story. For most of them, it was literally the first time they’d heard the story of Jesus’ birth. That’s one of the most beautiful parts of my job–helping expose students to the life-changing power of Jesus for the very first time. One student in particular, an Iranian boy I’ll call Oren, was enraptured by the story. He told me early in the evening that he’s very interested in learning more about Jesus, and at the end of the night he asked me something that almost brought tears to my eyes. He pulled me aside and said, “Scott, I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to know, what is it that makes you so passionate about this?” I was able to share my testimony of growing up only occasionally attending church, but then discovering the beautiful story of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for me as a teenager and how that moves me to want to share that story with others. He told me that
in his country many people say they believe in God, but they’re just pretending. He wants something more. I can tell that there’s a longing inside him that has been there for a long time. Although he may not know it, it’s a longing for Jesus. And like my long-awaited, and now completed, half marathon, it’s a longing that I firmly believe will soon be satisfied. We plan to meet up after the Thanksgiving break and I look forward to writing more about Oren soon.