Friday, February 25, 2005

A Story from John Shorack in Venezuela

I read this story the other day and thought it was something that needed to be shared. The man who wrote it is from the InnerCHANGE Venezuela team. It is something we all should think about:

Luis ­ More than a Running Partner

A couple weeks ago I finally went jogging with a man from our hillside
Luis Rodriquez. Luis is two years younger than me (that means he¹s 43
old). In his late teens and early 20s he was a professional boxer,
the world (to Indonesia, Thailand, Norway, Germany, Greece, USA, most
American countries and more). He sparred with Sugar Ray Leonard (USA
medalist in 1976 Olympic Games) and shook hands with the golden boy
East LA, Oscar de la Hoya.

Luis is also a baker. From his very humble, hillside ³rancho² (the word
squatter homes), he bakes and sells bread for his neighbors from two
home-made ovens that he converted from refrigerators. His bread is very
and affordable. Luis takes pride in providing this service to his
(his barrio is the only one I know of that actually has a bakery within
community, virtually everywhere else requires taking a jeep to the
district at the foot of the hillside to buy fresh baked breads.)

For those of you who know running, Luis has run a 2:40 marathon. Not
bad for
a 40 year old. He goes for an 8 mile run every morning at 5:30am
(parenthetically, not unlike his home-made ovens, Luis¹ running shoes
like they were converted from sandals). If you saw his body, you¹d know
I mean when I say to myself, ³So this is what a professional athlete¹s
looks like.² I listen with genuine respect when he tells me, ³I played
baseball, too, but only Class A because the opportunities didn¹t exist
them. Otherwise, who knows, I might have played in the majors.² He¹s
kind of guy who can say that with credibility. His body speaks for

It was 5:30am, the jeeps were making their early morning runs up and
the hill. I got to the factory entrance to wait for Luis. Suddenly he
emerged from the dark and we were off. As it turned out, I didn¹t have
anything to worry about. Luis wasn¹t interested in our pace. He wanted
talk. And talk we did. For an hour and a half. He didn¹t waste anytime.
soon as we hit the flats at the bottom of the hill he jumped right in:
do you think of our government? The question caught me off guard a bit.
made a few safe, moderately positive remarks about the president,
what he is trying to do, while not wanting to get caught up in the
personality cult that follows the president. As we ran through the
together, oblivious to the physical exertion, Luis began sharing his
with me. Here are two remarks he made that I will never forget (I
them as accurately as possible.):

³I want to see a president of your country be the first one to step
and eliminate his own weapons of mass destruction.²

He went on to tell me:

³As long as injustices like Saddam Hussein¹s get treated by further
injustices, like those that George W. Bush is doing in Iraq, then we
have a world of injustices. Because those in power who could do justice
no incentive to do what¹s right, since they see that solving problems
injustice gets rewarded.²

This was no ordinary jog in the park, was it? And Luis is no ordinary
guy. I
affirmed his instincts. That is no small thing that you¹re saying, I
replied, praying for the Lord to give me wisdom. In fact, I continued,
understand something about the gospel that I am trying to teach the
Pentecostal pastors. That got his attention.

³I have no respect for religion. I believe in humans. Religion,² he
went on,
³is full of bad people who do bad things and just hide behind

You know, Luis, your vision for a US president that chooses to lay down
weapons of mass destruction as the first step toward peace, is only
because we have a God who already did that very thing. The God I
worship is
a God who humbled himself. He didn¹t insist on Lording over people.
he laid down his power and showed us the way of love and forgiveness.

Needless to say, I got a lot more from my morning jog than I bargained
Somehow, I have to believe, that Luis got more than he bargained for,

John Shorack, January 2005


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