For believers who enjoy running or a brisk walk, comes a new organization that combines faith with athletics and brings Christians worldwide to Israel in order to participate in the largest running event in Jerusalem history. The organization, ‘Run for Zion’, partners with churches and other ministries enabling them to promote the sport pilgrimage as a ‘unique and hands-on way to bless Israel’.
This year, the biggest number of participants hail from the Living Word Christian Center, which is an Evangelical Church in Chicago. Within their church, they have a running ministry called ‘Kingdom Runners’ which promotes strengthening body and soul. The soulful opportunity for the runners is for them to volunteer at Meir Panim’s Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem.
The organization’s founder, Jonathan Feldstein, explains that Run for Zion has grown by 1,000%. Today they boast close to 80 participants in the group.
Participants are sponsored by friends and family. The more money the participants raise the higher the subsidy they receive, which makes their trip more affordable. If a runner raises $3,200, the ‘Land’ package is subsidized, including hotel and registration costs for the Jerusalem Marathon and tours. If a runner raises $5,500, he/she is subsidized for both the land (hotel and registration) and airfare costs. Feldstein emphasizes that experience is more than just a race. “It is a pilgrimage that features a tour and enables them to directly connect to the charities they’re donating money to” he added. ‘Run for Zion’ provides the opportunity where runners can fulfill their mission and volunteer at social service programs like Meir Panim’s Jerusalem branch.
Feldstein recalls Genesis 12:3 which states:
I will bless those who bless you (Genesis 12:3)
“We are providing the runners with tangible reciprocal blessings” Feldstein notes. Additionally, Feldstein describes the feedback from the runners as “tremendous”.
As participants are volunteering at Meir Panim’s Jerusalem Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchen, they will observe first-hand that Meir Panim is a lot more than just a soup kitchen. The branch has the look, the feel, and the taste of a restaurant. The diners are served by volunteers enabling them to enjoy a dignified experience amid their daily challenges.
When asked about collaborating with Meir Panim, Feldstein states: “I admire their unparalleled acceptance towards others and I also treasure the friendship that has developed through this experience.”