At the recent Jerusalem Marathon in which more than 35,000 people took part, there was a special team from Run for Zion, a non-profit working for the benefit of Israel’s poor, made up entirely of Christian runners.
“When I sat with Mayor Nir Barkat early last year, he was impressed by the vision and entrepreneurial model of Run for Zion, and surprised that nobody had ever thought of the idea to promote the Jerusalem marathon uniquely to Christians before,” noted Jonathan Feldstein, Run for Zion’s president.
Pastor Ray Hardee is an avid runner, ardent supporter of Israel, and made up one of the Run for Zion team’s participants. Hardee is Senior Pastor of The Point Church in Belmont, NC, and was delighted to be able to take part in the marathon for numerous reasons, not least that support and blessings for Israel run deeply in his family.
Other members of the team included, Dr. Pat Castle, president & founder of the largest Pro-Life running group in the world with over 10,300 members in 36 nations. Castle graduated from the Air Force Academy, earning a PhD in nano-analytical chemistry. He is also a veteran of 21 marathons.
Rev. Linda V. Chandler is the ordained pastor at Austin Brethren Church in Austin, Texas. Today, she pastors her local congregation as a “House of Prayer” with an emphasis on healing love and deep biblical discipleship. She has visited Israel many times, including studying at Yad Vashem, completing 50 hours in Holocaust Studies for Christian Leaders at The International School for Holocaust Studies. She now teaches an 8-week course for other Christians to combat antisemitism and Replacement Theology.
Elizabeth Wong from Phoenix, Arizona studied in Israel in the mid-2000’s and has been to the country many times. Run For Zion captures both Elizabeth’s passion for Israel, running, and integrity, and she is excited to share about Israel in a new way to Christians through the universal language of sports.
“If you’re a Christian and a runner, Run for Zion provides the most profound and spiritual experience combined with a tangible opportunity to bless Israel. Every participant gets the opportunity to set up a crowdfunding page with donations going to support an array of charities in Israel that care for millions.” Feldstein added.
“We are excited that because God promises to bless those who bless Israel, Run for Zion is offering major subsidies based on how much money people raise, possibly making the trip free. There’s literally no more vivid way to be blessed than a free trip to experience Israel yourself.”
The 2019 Jerusalem Marathon was the city’s ninth annual race. The route took runners through many of the city’s neighborhoods and included a lengthy stretch in and around the Old City walls.