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. 

Jon Lin: 10 Years and Counting

Jon Lin“It all started at Harold’s Chicken,” says Jon Lin. He was a high school teacher at the time, dealing with overwhelming stress, eating out a lot and not feeling great physically. But, he says, “As I was walking out with my half piece dark, I saw a flyer advertising the marathon and thought, yeah I could run a marathon.”

So he joined Team World Vision and started training for the Chicago Marathon in 2007, having never run more than 3 miles in his life. And when he crossed the finish line, he knew that he wasn’t done. 

Since then, Jon has boldly, yet humbly, continued to up his challenge level. He’s taken on many more marathons including NYC, and ventured into triathlon at the Steelhead Half Ironman and Ironman Wisconsin. And he’s done it all in the Team World Vision orange.

So what keeps him coming back year after year? 

Well, two main things: 

First, “This has been a place of healing for me,” Jon said. Having grown up with a high value placed on success and competition, Jon says about his journey on Team World Vision: “I’m not trying to meet someone else’s standard, and everything I have done has been celebrated. It doesn’t matter if you win your age group or win the race or if you’re the last person crossing the finish line. It’s been so encouraging to celebrate growth and progress. It’s been a place where I don’t feel judgement or comparison.” 

Second, Jon said, “I felt like if I was going to keep doing this there had to be a reason.” So he did his research early on and learned that World Vision was doing great work in the field that he was excited to support. “The problem of clean water is a solvable problem, and coming from an engineering background, it irks me to no end that there are things that can be solved that are not being solved.” So with each new physical challenge, Jon has pushed his introverted self through the fear of fundraising and has been encouraged (and sometimes surprised) by the way his supporters have repeatedly come alongside him to work toward the end of the clean water crisis.

Jon, we’re so thankful for your quiet consistency over the last 10 years and counting. You have taken risks, stepped through fear, persisted despite injury, showed up for your teammates, and worked faithfully on behalf of children and communities in need of clean water. We’re grateful for you and who you are in this Team World Vision family, no matter where you live!

Joanna Krenk: Servant Leader

Joanna Krenk

“Stop thinking. We spend way too much time thinking. So stop thinking and analyzing, be quiet, listen to God, and do what he tells you to do.”

That’s Joanna Krenk. 

As a Team World Vision runner, triathlete (soon to be Ironman), fundraiser, volunteer, team leader, and Detroit 6K site host, Joanna has put her money where her mouth is, doing what God asks her to do.

What makes Joanna so awesome is not only her individual commitment to providing clean water to kids in Africa, but also her desire to serve God through serving her team. “I feel close to God when I’m out there cheering people on or putting together an event where I know other people are going to benefit,” she said. 

It’s why when you ask her about a highlight of her experience on Team World Vision that she’ll tell you stories about other runners crossing their finish lines. It’s why she’ll humbly downplay her role in recruiting 450 people for the World Vision 6K in Detroit. It’s why she has willingly managed spreadsheets and details in the background, and has sat out a marathon season herself in order to be a volunteer leader. It’s why she talks about her team as a family that can never be too big. And it’s why the declining number of people in need of clean water is what keeps her motivated most of all.

As her teammate Billy Downs said: Joanna, your steadfast commitment to serving others is incredible. You have chosen a path of prayer, obedience, and excellence in your passion to help others soar beyond their wildest dreams! Your generosity overflows as you repeatedly put your own needs behind the needs of others around you. 

That pretty much sums it up. Thank you, Joanna.

PS: Joanna recently published a weekly Triathlon training devotional book. Check it out

Evan and Debbie McBroom: Going Farther Together

McBroomsIt started with Evan. After five years of running half marathons, Evan’s friends urged him to run a full marathon. “And you have to do it with Team World Vision,” they said. So he did. 

One day to cure his boredom on a dreaded treadmill run, Evan started to visualize what it would be like finishing the Chicago Marathon; all of those people on the sidelines cheering him on to the finish line. And suddenly, out of nowhere, all of those faces in the crowd turned to faces of women and children in Africa. “That’s when I knew this was really important,” Evan said, “It’s not running plus clean water. It’s clean water plus running.

While Evan trained for his first marathon, Debbie watched. She had done many triathlons, but they had always been about her own challenge, satisfaction, or fun. She never really liked running, but when she was cheering Evan on through his marathon, something clicked. She saw the beauty of the team working together, cheering each other on, and she thought, “I think I’m going to have to do this.” She knew that it was God stirring up something in her heart. 

The McBrooms Go Farther TogetherWhat’s awesome about Evan and Debbie’s story is that they have been individually and uniquely moved to run for clean water as a couple. On the eve of an empty nest, Evan and Debbie have thought a lot about what life is going to look like for them without kids at home. “We see couples who come to the point of being empty-nesters and don’t know what to do with each other,” Evan explained. “We want to do something of importance with our lives, together.” So the McBrooms not only continue to run races and fundraise with Team World Vision, but they have helped lead and launch new teams all over the Indianapolis area. 

Evan and Debbie talk about Psalm 37:4: “Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Neither of them had a life-long passion for running or for clean water that led them to join Team World Vision. But they say they have seen how God has placed new desires in their hearts—to live a life of importance, to serve in ministry as a couple, to care for the poor, to combine a love of fitness with clean water—and how He is making those desires come about. 

Remember the image Evan saw on the treadmill a few years ago? Well this year, Evan and Debbie traveled to Ethiopia to see some of World Vision’s work. It was there, a few years after that treadmill run, that the image became real: they saw women and children celebrating that they now have access to clean water. It was like all of the puzzle pieces of their journey, all of the desires that God had been placing on their hearts, finally came together into a beautiful picture, Debbie described. “We’re just grateful that God is letting us live this story.”

Thank you, Evan and Debbie, for your example of joyful faithfulness and service to others, together.

Have you seen Evan’s Ridiculous Clean Water Music Video? It helped him raise enough money to provide 125 people with clean water in 2014. This year, Evan and Debbie’s goals total $13,000!

Aimee Miller Parra: Faithful Sojourner

Aimee Miller ParraAimee happened to be visiting Park Community Church with her friend on the day that Team World Vision showed up to invite people to run the Chicago Marathon. She wasn’t a church-goer and she wasn’t a runner. But she was moved to join the team and run for kids who needed clean water.

From there, her life changed pretty drastically.

We think you should just go ahead and watch her story.