Far from Lonely, Man.

Friends, I write to you today to say THANK YOU for supporting the Loneliman 39.3 fundraiser for NGM — and to note there is still time to join in the fun! Give today! 😉 Even if we haven’t met, your birthday gift doesn’t go to me: it’s all to fund Next Generation Ministries.

Wrote about WHY here, in thirty-nine words:

Behold the moment, weigh your purpose.
Duty and beauty join as one;
Joy of obedience, whether together or lonely, man.
What’s a man’s legacy?

THEY are. Invest in the next generation.
Finish well.
In lieu of presents, give Hope!

I wanted to do a triathlon (a collection of endurance events I enjoy) for a purpose beyond myself. I’m friends with Paul and Pam Hunter; they are people I immensely enjoy and love. So being part of their team in the mission of Next Generation — changing Uganda one person at a time! — made a crazy idea seem wise. Now, some person have noted that I must be borderline crazy to want to do three hours of exercise at threshold for fun. Yes, this was my favorite kind of birthday party. Yet the joy I got to experience, being with Paul and others along the route made this a far from a lonely experience (see the highlight video below, which Papa Paul captured and edited with love and creativity). In fact, after competing in multiple endurance races, like triathlons and a marathon, I must say this was the least lonely I’ve ever been during a race. Here’s why: 

  • A great support crew at the swim start reminded me of veranda time at 80 M’Vule Crescent in Jinja, Uganda with the Hunters. It was a good place to BE, before setting out to DO. Lasting endurance is fueled by our identity in Christ.
  • Exiting the Clackamas River after a mile swim to make that first transition with my Mom and Paul there reminded me of the river of relationships that is Next Generation Ministries. You see, Paul and Pam are merely part of the team. They lead us, but we get to be part of this river of relationships connecting needs to resources.
  • All the gear in place reminds me of the numerous projects which really serve to develop people made in God’s image.
  • Paul Hunter preparing for the Loneliman triathlon with me. At this same moment setup preparation are being made for a classic car show.

    Switching between multiple events speaks to the various roles and responsibilities Paul, Pam, and the Ugandan NGM team must embrace daily. They’re quick, flexible, adaptive. It’s not about them!

  • Riding 32.1 miles through five “villages” on country roads and state highways reminded me of the busy intersections of our lives, and all the villages near Uganda and Kampala — and how we as NGM must all keep moving forward, battling apathy, fatigue, and resting in God even as we work hard at the pace of the Spirit.
  • Every mile I prayed for different people and opportunities. From One Step participants and leaders to each supporter who gave. There were no external inputs (music to distract), just the simple grind of the road and the joy of the Spirit to keep going strong.
  • The whole course was generally UP-hill, meaning if I stopped it would be hard to get going again. That is why with fundraising, Paul and Pam shall get a bit of momentum this Summer before returning to Uganda. Once back living and ministering in Uganda, as spiritual parents, they won’t be able to ask much.
  • Embracing hard things on purpose is what grows us.
  • Running the last 6.2 miles (10K) back and forth on the road neighboring Grace Haven had a mix of generations right there cheering and riding alongside. They are the next generation, and it is for their future and flourishing with God that we invest in Kingdom work like this. Whether in Oregon or Uganda, the options every young person has to follow Jesus into God’s good will is worth every ounce of our investment.
  • Setting out knowing I could finish these three hours strong came from months of prep work to be generally healthy and fit — consider this like a journey with a “General Fund.” All the projects and disciple-making demand a healthy home, finances, a generous baseline of funding. I didn’t fall across the finish line; finishing well is what we want Paul and Pam to do!
  • Leadership is lonely, man. To keep giving with courage and generosity and wisdom demands a whole team of Jesus-loving people who are in this with the Hunters. I get to be one of those; you can too!
  • Asking for help along the way — a couple “pit stops” reminded me of the need to connect with people, and have the needed supplies. Some asked me what I needed, and I provided the goods. Paul and Pam rarely ask, and never ask for themselves. I am asking for them.
You see, the Loneliman 39.3 was “fully funded” before I set out — because I probably set the bar too low — a bigger goal is needed. In reality going far beyond $5,000 really helps them. So I am asking YOU, please give and let’s multiply the Hunters’ joy, and all those who look to them for leadership. They are far from lonely on this journey, yet leading without proper resources is a drag. Let’s give and give some more! The Hunters and beautiful people of Uganda are worth it. We get to be part of NGM as together we see God change Uganda one person at a time!
You and everyone you know can give any amount — from $39 to thousands — at purecharity.com/loneliman. We’re keeping the fundraiser open until July 17th.
Enduring with you,

Jeff for Team NGM

p.s., Paul Hunter had fun capturing and editing a highlight video of the morning:

Video soundtrack song: “Farther Along” by Josh Garrels (used not by permission, which I am seeking).

So much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
And wash away all the things you’ve done
Forgiveness alright

Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by

Preview and purchase all of Josh’s good music at joshgarrels.com. Alright.

— — —

Our friends, Paul & Pam Hunter lead and guide the people and projects of NGM, for the sake of the next generation in Uganda, Africa, and here in the States. Their courage, generosity, and wisdom is uncommon. We get to stand with them, for leadership is lonely. As they give their time, talents, and treasure into making disciples of Jesus in every sphere of life, we get to partner with them as they Encourage … Equip … Empower … Release the next generation of leaders in Uganda, world changers.

THEY are why we’re in this endurance race with Next Generation!

Why the Loneliman? 

Leadership is life-giving … and lonely. Leaders give HOPE.

Yet giving one’s life, giving HOPE, tends to deplete one’s resources. Many of long for the persevering joy and wisdom the Hunters have. We can prolong their impact in Uganda in a personal way: give toward their practical needs while they give hope. This way they are not alone in making God’s abundance in our lives into a river of resources in together changing Uganda one person at a time. We’re partners with NGM.

Why 39.3? 

That’s the number of miles I’ll cover — corresponding to my 39 years — in three parts:

1.0 mile Swim » Starting with the most dangerous sport, the Clackamas Cove will be a reminder of the scenic wonder of Lake Victoria and the majestic power of the headwaters of the Nile River. The people of the Pearl of Africa will be on my mind.

+ 32.1 mile Bike ride » The longest part of the race, up and down the hilly country roads between Oregon City and Colton in Clackamas County. During this time I’ll need to dig deep and remember this isn’t a sprint; one can go fast alone, but together we go much farther. I look forward to seeing NGM partners and getting updates at each summit along the course, all the way to Grace Haven!

+ 6.2 mile Run » The final 10K will be the hardest, even for someone who enjoys running the most. With the onset of fatigue and cramping (oh joy!), enduring the final miles will bring the good kind of pain. At this point I’ll want to give up, but leaving and returning to Grace Haven for the hills of Colton will help me remember the grace-driven endurance followers of Jesus get to embrace and embody in Uganda. Nothing comes easy there, and I’m inspired by all the lives touched and changed through the Hunters’ influence and life there.

= 39.3 miles as fast as I can (goal: in under three hours)! In fact, going it solo means I’ll have to be self-motivated, or better yet, be motivated the hope given and provided for by your donations. Let’s raise $3,900 $5,000 or more for NGM! 

*Almost all the fundraising for NGM is for a specific project or cause. From One Step to the Maternal Advocacy Program (MAP). This fundraiser is for the overall financial health of NGM, aka the “General Fund.” You see BEING there alongside people in need has a cost; the Hunters go the distance with people, so let’s go the distance for them. The platform Pure Charity keeps 5%, and all the rest goes to NGM. Both are registered 501c3 charities in the U.S.; thus your donation is tax-deductible, and you’ll receive a giving receipt. Thank you!