This past Sunday, I had a really amazing opportunity to serve homeless men in my community by fitting them for running shoes. It was relational servanthood at its finest and it was the most satisfying thing I’ve done all year.
But the story really begins several years ago when I heard about Back On My Feet, an organization that began in Philadelphia in 2007 as a running group for the homeless. When Anne Mahlum ran the dark Philly streets every morning, she noticed a group of homeless men. The thought struck her: she was moving her life forward literally and metaphorically while these men sat in the same place every day. She decided to start a running group for these men.
Now, four years later, Back On My Feet has chapters in seven cities, including my own, Indianapolis, where they are just launching. The running store where I work has helped spread the word about the launch, recruiting volunteers to run downtown up to three mornings a week, building relationships with men from one of two different shelters. On Sunday morning, I and several co-workers helped fit the participants for running shoes. The men left with a tech shirt, jacket, pants, socks, and their brand new kicks!
What’s amazing about running is that your background disappears when you hit the street. No one knows if you’re rich or poor, homeless or in a mansion, a genius or average, or anything. All that matter is you’re a runner. And every non-runner thinks you’re an idiot! We unite over that bond. 🙂
In my own way, I tried to wash the feet of men who may be overlooked and ignored by many. It reminded me of what I hope Team OneVerse and Bible translation will accomplish in a much more eternal way: the disappearing act of Christianity. That the more people hear about God through His Word, the less we see rich or poor, man or woman, homeless or in a mansion. Instead, all we see is Christ shining through. This miracle of disappearing is paramount to our spiritual growth. The apostle John puts it another way, “He must become greater; I must become less.” No matter where or how I serve, I hope that can always be true of me. And I hope that as runners with Team OneVerse, we can see less of ourselves and more of Christ shining through as we share the need for translation around the world.