Tracy Rivas: Trust over fear

tracy-rivas“I’ve always believed that God calls us to give our time and talents, not just our finances, for Him to use,” Tracy said.

And she puts her money where her mouth is.

After two years of watching her husband, Mitch, run the half marathon in LA, Tracy decided to join him. Expecting to sign up for the half marathon, a surprise event change pushed Tracy into the full marathon distance instead. “I could not run a block without feeling like I wanted to die,” Tracy said, “Our team members were all in middle-age-ness and it was a huge step for me because I didn’t know how I was going to do it.”

img_2089Well, just six weeks from race day, Tracy discovered a lump in her breast. She needed surgery that would prevent her from running and take her out of the race. “No one would fault me for saying I was going to quit. I just had this sense that I really needed to trust God that I could follow through on the commitment I had made and trust that it would take care of itself,” Tracy explained. Impressed and surprised by her faith, the surgeon scheduled Tracy for after the marathon so she could still run. The lump was benign. 

“The next year, I knew I could trust God with something even bigger, and that’s why I set the fundraising goal,” said Tracy. John Huddle, TWV staff in LA, challenged her to set a $10,000 goal. “I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach—I thought I might throw up. It meant relinquishing complete control,” she said.

So Tracy set a $5,000 goal—bigger, but still attainable—and began to bargain with God. “If I email my principal and she gives me 5 minutes at the start of our faculty meeting, THEN I’ll raise my goal,” she thought. She got 5 minutes. “Okay, if I make this presentation to my fellow teachers and someone donates, THEN I’ll raise my goal,” she thought. She got a $100 gift before the meeting was out, and $600 before the school day was out. “This was God saying, ‘You have to trust me,’” Tracy said. And she increased her goal to $10,000.

img_1562Tracy closed out that year raising over $14,000, matching what her donors gave with the profits from her Etsy shop (trusting that God would provide the money they needed for a new car in a different way—which He did). And you know what? The next year she raised over $12,000. (While Mitch raised over $10,000 and her 13-year-old son, Wyatt, raised over $2,000!) And this year, she’s aiming to do it again. But it’s not easy. She’s a busy teacher and mom, some days so exhausted she’s not sure how she can make it all happen and afraid that she won’t be able to do it again.

But still she says, “It’s easy to trust that God can work when the answer is already a foregone conclusion. But when the answer is a huge question mark, well, that’s a different story. How easy it is to walk away from opportunities to experience a deeper level of trust just because we are afraid.” 

Tracy, what an inspiration you are through your example of faith and trust leading you on this incredible journey. We are so encouraged by your willingness to be an advocate for clean water, even in the face of huge question marks. Thank you for taking these steps of faith and sacrificially giving your time, talents, and finances for the sake of others. 

Olivet Nazarene Swimmers: Water 4 Water

Olivet Water 4 WaterThis August, a team of students from Olivet Nazarene University took to the waters of Lake Michigan for kids in need of clean water.

Here’s how it went down:

  • 10 swimmers
  • 40 miles
  • 2 days
  • 150 lives changed through access to clean water

Two years ago, an Olivet swimmer was moved by the purpose of Team World Vision, but unable to run a marathon because of his training schedule. So he dreamed up a new event that he and his swimming teammates could do on their own. They called it Water 4 Water, a relay-style swim across Lake Michigan. 

This year, a group of Olivet swimmers decided to bring back the event and carry on the tradition. So they swam a 40 mile relay from Michigan City, Indiana to New Buffalo, Michigan, and back to Michigan City.

Austin Bennett, a junior at Olivet who led the effort, said, “This was a cool opportunity for us to be able to make a difference with what we do every day. We swim so much. This is a cool opportunity for us to branch out and do something really different with our talents.”

Trust us, this was no small feat to pull off. The team needed to coordinate boats, drivers, safety measures, housing and food for 10 swimmers over the course of two full days, all while keeping a focus on fundraising.

Team member Todd Sutter said that trusting God was the biggest lesson he learned through the whole process. “There were a lot of logistics that needed to be figured out, praying through the summer that we would be able to pull it off,” he said. “The weather was perfect. The boat situation came though. The housing came through. God provided for us. He leads us in the right direction.

The team has so far raised enough money to provide clean water to 150 people in Africa. But they’re not done yet. Austin and Todd dream of what the event could become: doubling the number of people involved and the amount they can raise, swimming a farther distance, and getting more college swim teams engaged. Stay tuned to see what can happen in 2017!

Thanks Water 4 Water team for giving us an amazing example of creatively using your talents for the sake of others. You fought through logistical challenges, waited out literal storms, and infected those around you with a desire to help end the clean water crisis. We’re thankful for your leadership and can’t wait to see what can happen with your vision and desire to serve those in need.