Get Ready. Get Set. Go!



Picture Willow’s South Barrington and Huntley campuses, not with parking lots and entrances and exits, but with a 5K running course complete with water stations, mile markers, and excited participants and spectators. This was the scene on April 20, the day of Willow’s second 5K Run for Shoes. With rocking music, Paul Jansen Van Rensburg manning the microphone, and plenty of adrenalin pumping, the chilly the 5K launched the 2013 Celebration of Hope initiative. And weather did nothing to damper the spirits of the 4,100 people who ran and walked the 5K at South Barrington and Huntley’s campuses.

“It was my first 5K ever,” said one runner, whose two children and husband waited at the finish line to cheer her on. “Now I can cross it off my bucket list,” she joked. Another runner said she was inspired by the two people running ahead of her, a father and 10-year-old son, who held hands during the entire race. “They were fast, too!” she said. Yet another runner laughed about bringing in “the caboose of the race” with other lollygaggers like himself.

Regardless of pace, all ages ran, walked, or rolled over the finish line as smiling faces, including the four-legged variety, applauded their efforts. The real satisfaction? Knowing that they helped put shoes on the feet of children in Latin America and Africa.

Family Seed Packs
Last year, Willow volunteers filled 500,000 family seed packs for local church partners in Zimbabwe. The success of 2012 inspired a goal of 3/4 of a million family seed packs this year. Not only was this goal met, it was exceeded: 19,079 volunteers filled 778,750 garden packs. This enabled Willow to send seeds, not only to Zimbabwe, but also to Zambia, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.


During one section community serve in particular, a first-time Willow volunteer finished his two-hour session and wanted to do more, so he stayed for the next two-hour serve. Another seed packing veteran not only trained to help lead a session, he shared tips with the leaders of the next session for efficient packing. Other volunteers wore their 5K Run for Shoes t-shirts as a fun way to show their commitment to Celebration of Hope (COH) during the seed-packing event.

The Lobby Experience

As in past years, the lobby was transformed into a live exhibit of projects that need funding at Willow’s 234 church partners around the world. Before and after services, the lobby was full of people viewing a large array of projects aimed at improving water, education, health, nutrition, economic development, and spiritual support. Donations are still coming in.

COH changes the hearts of people, both here at Willow and in churches across the globe. A new couple to Willow describes their first COH this way: “Living a suburban American life, it’s easy to feel distant or disconnected from the suffering and hardships of people in other parts of the world. COH gave our family a chance to see God working in communities and hearts around the globe.”

It’s Not Over Yet
For those looking for ways to continue the work of COH throughout the year, Willow Creek’s Global Ministry has put together a new opportunity to learn and get involved with specific global issues. You are invited to join staff and other volunteers who are investing in the on-going work of our global church partners by attending a global gathering on June 25, 6-8 p.m.

Participants will have the opportunity to connect with others who are interested in using their professional or technical skills to make a difference globally. Groups are being built around the areas of agriculture, business development, education, health/nutrition/wellness, spiritual development, and water/engineering. Register today!

Category : Global Connections

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