The weather forecast predicted heavy rain Sunday afternoon. Indeed, rain had pounded the TeenStreet (TS) site since dawn. All morning, TS participants – those running and those supporting – prayed that God would change the weather. Just before the 2016 annual RAG (Raise and Give) race began, the clouds cleared, providing cool, but clear conditions for the assembled runners.
Marie (14) and Kristin (17) from Norway had worried about the weather when they woke up on race day but ended up amazed by the dry window during the run. Standing to the side of the course after finishing the two-hour event, Marie stated, “I think God was really watching over us. Look, now it’s starting [to rain] again.”
Both girls planned to participate in RAG before arriving at TS – Marie running, Kristin walking – but they didn’t start fundraising until a few days before the race. “I sent messages to family and friends,” Marie said, estimating she raised about €500 for the project in Kosovo.
The race “was fun because people were cheering you up, and you help others,” Marie described.
Pia (15), Lisa (14) and Lea (15) ran 11 laps together before spreading out for the final rounds of the race. Although the girls were sore – “I never [thought] I could run two hours without stopping. Your whole body hurts!” Lea exclaimed – they enjoyed the experience of racing, receiving support from other countries cheering them on and raising money to help teenagers in Kosovo.
In total, Lea collected 13 sponsors, including a few marathon runners, who generously supported her athletic endeavour. Her pastor pitched in as well.
Jonas (24) from Denmark ran the RAG race for the first time, though 2016 marks his fifth year of attending TS as a service team member. Last year, while scanning badges with the sports team during the race, Jonas wondered why more people were not running.
The final night of TS 2015 HOME, Jonas prayed with another attendee and determined to train for and run the 2016 RAG race. “I wanted to show people that you are able to do so much more than you think,” he stated. “Which voice do you pick? Do you listen to Satan’s voice, when he says, ‘You can’t compete, you’re too slow,’ or do you listen to God, Who says, ‘Give Me your trust, and I’ll be able to do so much more than you can imagine’?”
Jonas made a Facebook event to raise support and to keep him accountable. Although an injury interrupted his training for about two months, Jonas pressed forward towards his goal. “It’s been a longer journey than I expected it would,” he admitted. But in the end, he accomplished his goal, running the entire two hours.
“The support was really good,” Jonas said. “While running, we’re trying to help other people, but it’s not only the people who are running that help but also the people who encouraged us at the side lines. Everyone can help!”
Helping the House of Joy
Proceeds from the 2016 TS RAG project, which includes the race as well as talent shows and multiple donation areas around the site, will help support the House of Joy in Kosovo. “We always try to find a project that’s working with teens in Europe,” said coordinator Fiona Boyce, who works in financial development for OM UK.
Vocations for the Future is a House of Joy project geared at teenagers aged 12-15, who are at risk of dropping out of school. Through the project, they receive training in welding, electrical work and tailoring. Forty teenagers participated in the training during the first year, and now the House of Joy team wants to expand this ministry.
With the money from RAG, TS wants to partner with the House of Joy. Raising at least €80,000 would help the ministry purchase or rent a larger building and procure new equipment for further training and therapy options.
The best part of RAG, Fiona said, is “seeing the teens realize they can make a difference and that they have a part to play.”
So far 78.000 Euros have been raised. But you can continue to give to your local
OM office - mark the gift as being for RAG.