A Heart for Liberia

August 19, 2011 • Liberia

Staff members are competing at the Liberia Marathon and 10k to raise money through Team Samaritan’s Purse

It takes perseverance and strength to run 26.2 miles. But the members of our Liberia staff who are running a marathon with Team Samaritan’s Purse this month don’t mind. They have experience in enduring long and painful journeys.

Some of them had to suffer through the 14-year civil war that overtook their country. But by God’s grace, they survived and are now serving to help restore the things that were lost.

Learn more about supporting Samaritan’s Purse.

On August 28, 61 runners from our country office will be representing Team Samaritan’s Purse at the Liberia Marathon and 10K. They are raising money to support our projects throughout the nation, including literacy programs, animal and agriculture, and church and school construction.

The marathoners include Samuel Tedoe, who was 16 when war broke out in Monrovia in 1990. He and his brother, sister-in-law, and brother’s mother-in-law had to flee from the fighting. His brother’s mother-in-law was not strong enough to make the journey by foot, so Samuel pushed her in a wheelbarrow for 45 miles.

Along the way, they endured beatings and days without food or water. After escaping the rebels, they were able to get a car and drive south to Grand Bassa where the fighting was not as prevalent. It was a miracle that Samuel and his family survived.

Today, he is serving with us by driving trucks over rough roads and helping with translation.

Bev Kauffeldt, wife of Liberia Country Director Kendell Kauffeldt, said she is excited to work and run alongside him.

“I have never had to literally run for my life,” Bev said. “And I pray I never have to—I pray no one has to. Twenty-one years later, Tedoe, with a smile on his face, can’t wait to run the marathon. He is a strong man of faith, and his life is a testament to his trust in God.”

Bev, who completed the London Marathon for Team Samaritan’s Purse in April, thought of the idea to get a group of runners together to raise money for Liberia projects in June in an effort to encourage the staff to eat healthy and participate in daily exercise.

“We have had many staff who have been sick with everything from high blood pressure to Type 2 diabetes,” she said. “What really hit home for all of us was a recent death of one of our staff from complications with his diabetes.”

In weekly devotions, Bev talked about what the Bible says about nutrition and exercise. “I wanted our staff to know I care and love them, and wanted to at least share with them some simple steps to help with their health,” she said.

Bev didn’t expect so many people to sign up for the race, but many of them did in order to support the Samaritan’s Purse projects they are most passionate about.

Jeremy Kilday is running his first marathon. He is the project manager for our construction project at the African Bible College (ABC), and has decided to run because of the men he wants to see grow in Christ.

“I am working with over 60 guys,” Jeremy said. “They are hard workers and have earned my respect time and time again. Several of them are working to raise money to go to school. While running one evening, I thought the marathon could be a way to raise support to help those who had passed the entrance exam to attend ABC.

“It is something I can do to show my appreciation for their hard work and to give them something back for the time they have given to rebuild the university.”

August 24 will be an extra special day for Jeremy because that is the day a new group of freshmen start classes for the fall semester. The campus has come from destruction to reconstruction, and now into a phase of growth and expansion.

“Change is not easy,” Jeremy said. “But when we have a change that starts in the heart, it can be easier. We can’t change people. Only God can. God is using the staff of Samaritan’s Purse Liberia to bring change to Liberia, to transform and change the hearts of the people.”

Dorothy Bile is another one of our Team Samaritan’s Purse runners. She works in the finance office and is going to race in the 10K (6.2 miles). Before she began training, she had a hard time walking up the stairs. Now she can do it with ease.

“I used to exercise a lot in high school, but haven’t since then—almost 20 years!” she said. “I’m running because I want to be able to help the less fortunate in Liberia who need our help.”

Now after months of Wednesday and Friday afternoon group runs, the Liberia office is ready to race for their country and their King, Jesus Christ.

“I cannot put into words how proud I am of our staff—all of them,” Bev said. “They are the reason why I ran the London Marathon and why I continue to run. I can’t wait for August 28—to line up my Samaritan’s Purse brothers and sisters, all 61 of them—and run the race.”