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Running for Siloam

One ABWE missionary is running 100 miles to raise support for an orphanage in India.
A church in Japan has been supporting an orphanage they started in Southeast India since 1984.

The Siloam Home for Orphans and Widows has fallen on hard times the last few years as the number of supporting churches has dropped, and inconsistent support has lead them to take out loans for necessities several times.

I volunteered to lead the charge for a special fundraiser to wipe out the debt and set the stage to put a better plan in place for the orphanage’s support going forward. Our goal is $20,000 by the end of May 2020. I am planning to run across Kyushu from the Kumamoto coast over the mountains 100 miles away to the Oita coast. We have set up a site to collect pledges and are suggesting $1 per mile.

Backstory

I first met Nathan Stratton around eight years ago. He was a deacon in his church and a full-time English teacher in Yamaga. The missionary pastor who started the church had retired two years earlier, leaving Nathan and two Japanese men to serve as deacons and the only leaders in the church. Nathan stepped up to the plate and traded off preaching with one of the other men for the next seven years.

After meeting Nathan, we fairly quickly began conferencing once a week for ongoing discipleship and encouragement. He expressed a desire to serve more in the church and an openness to pastoring. Along the way, he shared his concerns about the orphanage and the church’s inability to meet the ongoing needs. Our family put on a charity concert and tried to help some, but resources are limited in small Japanese churches.

Last year, 2019, Nathan quit his job teaching and surrendered to full-time service in ministry. He and his wife, Azusa, applied to ABWE as missionaries and registered for Azusa’s visa. They need to go to the U.S. for training, missionary orientation and raising support. But Azusa’s visa was denied—twice.

Currently Nathan is serving as the church pastor, mostly without support. He is working six days a week to make ends meet as they continue the process of applying for a visa. In the meantime, his time to spend on the church is limited, and things like the orphanage are a heavy weight for him. Nathan and the church have always been very encouraged when anyone indicated a willingness to pray for or help out with the orphanage. One of the church's deacons has been to India multiple times over the years, and the ministry there is dear to him. In an effort to ease some of the financial burden for the church and encourage them and the Strattons, we are organizing a fundraiser to help with the debt at the orphanage and to pay for Nathan and one other person to visit the orphanage for encouragement and to assess what is needed in ongoing support and accountability.

We created the KO100 (Kumamoto to Oita 100 Miles) as a fundraising event to get the word out about the need. I will be running all of the 100 miles from the Kumamoto coast across Kyushu to the Oita coast in the east with some other runners joining me for sections along the way. The run is planned for May 22-23 with the goal of finishing in 24 hours. A group of men are organizing to drive a crew car for support throughout the journey. As I prepare and train, I am documenting the process on social media and will make a short documentary of the run at the end.

For me, this is an opportunity to encourage someone else, help people in need, meet new people and grow spiritually along the way. We grow through adversity, and I expect that those 100 miles will provide plenty of that! Cameron and I have already met a few people though a local running club and we have plans to incorporate a church outreach with a training day. I am excited to see how God draws his family together, meets needs and glorifies himself as we serve him in this little way.


Editor’s Note: Learn more or give to the Siloam Orphanage here. Also, to keep up with Normans updates and other information about the race, follow the KO100 Facebook page.

About the Author

Norman Smith has served as an ABWE missionary in Japan since 2012, where he and his wife Susan run two coffee shops. Support their ministry.

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