Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Advocacy Isn't a Sprint, It's a Marathon

Ameliarace1By Amelia Kegan

Faithful advocates have been hit with a lot lately—the House decision to cut nearly $40 billion from SNAP, the ongoing nightmare of sequestration, and budget debates that seem to never end, threatening the economic stability of everyone, especially those struggling with hunger and poverty. Yet, Bread advocates across this country continue to keep up the pressure with a sense of urgency and passion that is nothing short of inspiring.

Protecting programs that help poor working families, ensuring that Congress replaces the harmful sequester with a balanced plan, and pushing the President and Congress to set a goal and enact a plan to end hunger—these are things that require a long, sustained push. And while we have a long and difficult road ahead, Bread for the World activists know that ending hunger is about pushing a movement.

Because advocacy isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon.

During periods of struggle and  hard work is when we remember what faith and perseverance allow us to accomplish. That’s one of the reasons I run actual marathons and ultramarathons—it reminds me of what is possible, that people can push themselves to the limits of endurance and not only make it through, but triumph.

Next weekend, I will run the Oil Creek 100 mile ultramarathon in Titusville, Pa. On Saturday, Oct. 5, from the moment the gun goes off at 5 a.m. until I reach the finish line 100 miles and roughly 30 hours later, I will continue to press on. It would mean completing my first 100 mile race. I know it can be done.

Many distance runners will talk about “hitting the wall,” a period in the race when your legs can’t go any more and your head screams at you to quit. Yet you can manage to press on. I do it not by thinking of the total number of miles left to go, but by focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, going one more step, one more mile. Gradually, those individual steps and miles add up to crossing the finish line.

It is that ability to continue in moments of absolute weakness that I find so empowering. We are reminded in Corinthians 12 that God’s grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  Paul says, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

So it is with our race to end hunger. We hit our own walls, like last week’s passage of the House SNAP bill. But rather than wallowing in defeat and throwing in the towel, rather than thinking that ending hunger is impossible in this political and fiscal climate, we know that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. And by focusing on the battles right in front of us—the farm bill conference, the debt ceiling fight, addressing sequestration for the coming year, we will gradually win one more vote, convert one more hunger champion in Congress, and press on until the political will to end hunger shines brightly upon us all.

So, I’m dedicating this upcoming race to Bread for the World, and I’d like you to join me. Because Bread for the World activists, like ultramarathoners, know what is really possible. As I embark on this 100 mile journey, I hope you will pray for me, send me words of encouragement, and, if you’re able, sponsor to support my run with a gift to Bread for the World of $1 or 50 cents per mile--or another amount of your choosing.

I’m doing this because I believe in Bread for the World. I believe in our mission. I believe in our members. I believe in our staff. I believe in our strategy. And, I believe that in the ultramarathon to end hunger, ultimately, we will succeed. Because Bread for the World members refuse to give up. We may hit a wall, we may think we can’t go on, but our faith moves us forward, and we always find the strength to continue our work. We won’t stop until we reach that finish line, until we witness that exodus from hunger that we know is underway.

Amelia Kegan is a senior policy analyst at Bread for the World.


Join Amelia’s run! You don’t have to run 100 miles, but you can sponsor Amelia as she runs 100 miles to benefit Bread for the World and to end hunger.  Support her efforts with a gift of $1 per mile or another amount of your choosing. You can also tweet her encouraging words now, and during the actual race, to help her across the finish line!  Use the hashtag #runamelia.

Photo: Amelia Kegan, after finishing the Chicago Marathon (Courtesy of Amelia Kegan)



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