Well…sometimes…missions is a walk in the park, if by that you mean an actual walk in the park.

Let’s back up a little.

It started with just me. In my never-ending quest to get my weight down to where it should be, I took up running. This was back in November. Most days my running consists of jogging around a soccer field behind our house. I measured it out and found that eight laps equals one kilometer. Then I began upping the number of laps each day.

The thing about running around a soccer field is that it’s BOR-ing. Actually, I find running in general to be tedious…nothing to do with my mind except count laps. A few weeks in to this routine I decided that what was needed was a change of scenery, so I went to the nearby Itapiracó park. The two-kilometer stretch of pavement lined by dense forest on either side was a welcome change to the laps. I found myself working my way from four to five to six kilometers.

One day I mentioned my weekly trips to the park to one of the young people from the church, and he decided to join me. A week or so later my son joined in, then our co-worker Pastor Francivaldo came along. Then another kid from the youth group showed up…soon we were having a weekly, impromptu men’s fellowship. After running we would go to a local Subway (genuine Brazilian cuisine…I know…) and have some male bonding over subs and chips.

The guys after one of our runs.

As a fringe benefit, I was able to increase my distance (9 km is my current record) and my weight improved.

One thing I have noticed in my years of ministry: whenever the men get something good going for themselves in the church, the ladies want a piece of the action. It never seems to work the other way around. You never hear a dude exclaim “Boy I wish I could go to more baby showers!” However, let the guys start something for themselves, and pretty soon there are ladies wanting to be involved. No…not just involved – they want to improve it.

This is a long and time-honored tradition, and not limited at all to the church.

Cave man: “Look, me find cave…keep dry when rain.”

Cave woman: Moves in, puts in linoleum floors and hangs curtains.

Medieval Guys: “Hey, check out this knighthood thing! We can joust and whack at each other with swords.”

Joan of Arc: Dons some chain mail and puts the entire English army to flight.

Guys: “My Boy Scout troop is awesome!”

Girls: “We’re going to start Girl Scouts just for girls.”

Guys: “Cool.”

Girls:And we’re going to join Boy Scouts.”

Guys: “Wait…what?”

This may be an outworking of Genesis 3:16b…I’ll let you decide. Whatever the case, before we knew it, the Ebenezer ladies had a whole walking/running event planned at the Itapiracó park.

When we guys get together to run, we basically arrive at the park…and run. But not today. No…today there was calisthenics…

Lots of selfies along the way…

And even a picnic lunch at the end.

Also, instead of four or five guys, there were eighteen people present (not all are shown in the picture, in case you are counting)

Now, I am sure that if I were to have stood up in front of the church and said “Ok folks, this weekend we are going to go running…everybody show up…it’ll be great” I would have been very disappointed by the results.

But all I did was decide to go running in the park one evening back in November. And today, thanks to some dedicated guys and some very enthusiastic ladies, we had eighteen people, great fellowship, and some really neat “iron sharpens iron” moments.

The only thing that suffered was my weight loss. Itacyara made brownies.

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