Running Through a Crisis

April 13, 2012 • United States

A young woman competes in the Georgia Marathon for Team Samaritan's Purse, combining her love for running with her God-given desire to help meet critical needs in the world

According to Erin Daniel, training for a marathon is the perfect antidote for a quarter-life crisis. But that’s not the only reason the 23-year-old decided to run the Georgia Marathon this year on March 18. She was running to raise money for South Sudan water projects through Team Samaritan’s Purse.

Daniel started running just over three years ago to help cope with some struggles in her life. She was studying at Wheaton College at the time, and decided to participate in the Los Angeles Urban Project, a summer-long program where college students partner with community-based organizations that address the social issues of the city.

She lived among the poor, went to church in urban communities, and had a fixed income comparable to her neighbors. She thought God was telling her He was more concerned about justice and love than any pious act she could perform in her comfortable suburban church.

“As I came to know our beautiful neighbors and the families we worked with, their stories began to weigh heavily,” Daniel said. “I didn’t understand why so many of their stories didn’t have happy endings, why God allowed them to be beaten, shot at, hungry, and sometimes hopeless. For as many tears as I shed that summer, lying on a thin, green mattress on the floor of our un-air-conditioned third-floor apartment, I shed at least as many in the following months back at Wheaton. I was once again immersed in suburbia, in a place that had once felt so comfortable, yet all I could think of was the pain I now knew was in the world.

“It was during this time that I first fell in love with running. When anger and sadness boiled up inside me, threatening to overflow, I laced up my running shoes, headed out the door, and ran.”

After running the Chicago Half-Marathon in 2009, Daniel was hooked for life. The idea to train for a marathon came last December, during another time of personal crisis. After graduating college, she felt disconnected from her dreams, and did not have enough money to donate to organizations and causes she believed in.

She decided she could do something by combining her love for running with her God-given desire to help meet critical needs in the world by raising money through Team Samaritan’s Purse. It became the reason she woke up in the morning when everything else felt so hard to live through.

“Change is probably one of my least favorite things to begin with,” Daniel said. “The cool thing about crises, though, is that they can define the trend of all future events. But the direction they go is up to me. I can groan in frustration over the fact that I sit at a desk all day, my hands tied, unable to reach out and touch the lives of millions of hurting people throughout the world, or I can create awareness about an issue and reach out to my friends and family, inviting them to partner with me in making a change.”

Over the next three months, Daniel trained while raising money for Samaritan’s Purse. By the time she reached the finish line, she had raised over $1,500.

Daniel says that running with Team Samaritan’s Purse was such a blessing because it was the catalyst to help her make a global impact and to bring more purpose to her life.

“In so many ways running that marathon saved me,” Daniel said. “The Lord used it to give me what I needed when I needed it. I don’t have the motivation on my own to do a race that long. The thing that kept me going was that it wasn’t about me. I signed up to run for something a million times bigger than I can imagine. So I was determined to take each step until I was done.”

You can use your next athletic event to help people by raising money for Samaritan’s Purse projects.