MARCH 20, 2006


Our ABC praise and witness team enthusiastically shared their music and encouragement at mile 23.8 of the 26.2 mile L.A. Marathon. Thousands of runners, walkers and wheelchair racers struggled by. They saw the elite leaders come past with their entourage of police motorcycles, photographers, and coaches. And they also saw courageous amateurs trying desperately to drag themselves to the end. To all they extended hearty applause, cheers and “You-can-do-itâ€?s—all in the name and spirit of the Great Encourager, Jesus Christ.

Raul Reyna, aged 53, was retired from his work as a detective with the LA Police Department. After 28 years, he had earned his right to kick back and become a couch potato. But instead, he kept active, even training his body to endure LA’s long-distance marathon.

Raul Reyna was one of those runners who trudged past ABC’s outreach team. He may have been in the middle of the pack and didn’t stand out as he went by. He probably heard the praise music of the band and choir. He no doubt saw some of the team members as they shouted encouragement. Maybe one of them held up the one-way sign and shouted his name (each runner had a sign on his or her chest with their first name). Maybe this reminded him of his Christian roots. Maybe he thought of Jesus calling his name in encouragement. Who knows?

At mile 24, about five blocks later, Raul Reyna collapsed and died, probably from a heart attack. He had no warning, no chance to make his peace with God.

Yet, could it be that God interrupted his thoughts just a few minutes before his death? Could it be that, thanks to the sincere caring witness of a few people from ABC, his last thoughts were about Jesus?

You never know. That’s why we should always be prepared to meet our Maker. That’s why we should always be ready to introduce others to their Maker. As the psalmist (slightly edited) said:
“The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong, [or perhaps 53 if we have an unknown heart condition, or perhaps 7 if we’re a child with leukemia]; . . . . They are soon gone, and we fly away . . . . So teach us to number our days [to value each one and use its 24 hours well], that we may gain a wise heart.â€? (Psalm 90:10-12)

You never know when you will “fly away.â€? You never know about someone who is running past you, either.

– Pastor George Van Alstine


We never get to know whose life we impact when we take our love for Jesus to the streets. So we always go in prayer that God will use us in someone else’s life on the day we go to the LA Marathon. We go in faith, because we don’t get to see the results of our witness. We go with God who loves every one of the 25,000 plus marathon participants who stream past us, as well as the hundreds of volunteers and spectators who hang around our block.

In our day of singing, playing, cheering, conversing and passing out pamphlets, these few people stood out to us because of a personal contact with them. Llano, who was already tipsy by 8:00 AM, spent a lot of time talking with a few of our Spanish speakers. He was embraced, prayed for, and sent home with encouragement to seek help for his addition. Antonio spent a lot of time at the children’s corner, coloring and playing with his two children. He’d recently lost his job, and gladly accepted someone’s offer to pray for him. Two other people showed some interest in the material that was being handed out. We ask you to remember these few in prayer among the thousands.

Many thanks to the 28 ABCers who gave their time and effort to be a witness on the streets of Los Angeles.

– Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn