BRISTOL'S 'REAL RACE FOR LIFE'
13th July 2017
On Sunday 2 July, for the second year running, the Adventist churches in Bristol were invited to take part and support the Race for Life 5k event, in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Thousands of people attended the event, in brilliant sunshine on The Downs, a large public open space in Bristol.
Approximately 50 church members came out to help with the setup, preparation, support and witnessing activities.
Operating from a tent in a prime location, the health team immediately set to work, cutting up and preparing delicious samples of vegetarian food, which included houmous in plain, pepper and coriander flavours, carrot, cucumber and celery sticks, and fantastic fruit balls made from apricot, dates, banana, and seeds, covered in coconut. After the run, tasters of tofu and vege strips, and bowls of mixed fruit and bottles of water were given out.
The food was very well received, and much appreciated by the runners after the event, with many people showing an interest in the recipes and wanting to know more about vegan and vegetarian food and healthy living.
Evan Green from the Newport church also brought his smoothie bike, which was in great demand by adults and children, keen to have a go, getting exercise as well as a healthy, fruity smoothie. One lady was so impressed, she even asked if the team could come to her own health and wellness event.
The event was organised by the Bristol Joint Evangelism Committee (BJEC), and included members from all the churches in the Bristol district. One of the main objectives of BJEC is to bring together and co-ordinate joint evangelistic projects of this kind, using the best skills and talent from the various churches.
One of the main driving forces behind the event, was Mary Philip, Health and Community Services leader at Bristol Central, and a member of BJEC. By building relationships with the event organisers, Mary was able to secure a prime spot in the main arena, which drew the most crowds. Mary explained that "although it is good to organise our own event, it is imperative to join with other organisations when they have their events." By linking the health message to established but mutually compatible events, means that more people can be reached, and it also shows that we support the community and other similar interests. This has in turn, led to working with other organisations and the city council on a number of other community-based initiatives.
It also provided an excellent opportunity to witness not only of the Church's holistic approach to health, but to promote other BJEC sponsored activities, such as the weekly exercise class, and monthly vegetarian cookery class at a local school.
In addition to the health message, there was also an opportunity to provide a spiritual witness. Further round the running course, a singing group made up of members from the various Bristol churches, sang traditional songs such as 'Joyful, Joyful', and 'This Train is Bound for Glory', as the runners ran by. One of the medics who was stationed in the same location, said that he was "truly blessed." Rory, another volunteer, who was at the same spot, was full of praises for the singing, and added that "the singing was an inspiration. It really enhanced what we were doing there today", and others said that the singing was great and they really enjoyed it.
The runners were also treated to a rousing start to the run, as the Bristol Pathfinders Drum Corps, drummed them off with a rousing drum cadence, much to the crowd's delight.
A large number of 'goody bags' were given out. These contained copies of Health magazine, Steps to Christ – Bristol Edition, various leaflets and a flyer for an upcoming health event with Dr Chidi Ngwaba on 29 July in Bristol.
Many people were pleased to receive this invitation, and complimented the church on its efforts to promote healthier living, including addressing the need to understand the deeper causes of lifestyle diseases, with a particular focus on how to prevent or reverse cancer, which was particularly relevant at this event for Cancer Research UK. A number of people also provided their contact details, to receive further information.
Speaking after the event, Bristol district pastor, Royston Smith said, "It was total team work. The members banded together and placed the work of the Lord at the forefront. Evidently, our tent was the busiest and the community was extremely happy to eat, take and fellowship."
All in all, it was an excellent example of churches working together for a common purpose, to reach
out to and be relevant in the community, while forging links for further engagement.
All those who took part were driven not only by a desire to support a race for life, free from cancer, but to introduce people to the 'Real Race for Life'; the only race that matters, the race for eternal life.