It’s complete lunacy.
On September 15th, I’m going to run the entire Grand Canyon, from the North Rim to the South rim. The route we’re taking is 24 miles long, with a total elevation climb of 6,000 vertical feet on the way back up. It’s going to take more than ten hours. I’m doing it because my uncle invited me to do it with him, and it sounded a lot like whimsy and adventure, and I want more of that in my life.
But I’m also doing it so that 50 young women in Ethiopia can leave a degrading life of prostitution, and receive education, training, unconditional love, and a real job instead. For that to happen, I’ll need to raise $50,000.
Again: total, complete, utter lunacy.
Notice I used a plural pronoun there. We. Are. Doing. It. (As in, you and me).
Let me explain.
This caper started with three intersecting events: a phone call, a blog post, and a coffee with an old friend.
The Phone Call: My uncle Ed is one of my heroes. He and my aunt Maze live in Knoxville, so I don’t get to see them very often. A few weeks ago, Ed called me and left this message:
“Steve, a couple of us are running Rim to Rim this September and you’ve got to do it with us. It is breathtakingly beautiful, it’s the adventure of a lifetime, and you’ll regret it forever if you don’t. Let’s make it happen.”
I run a lot. I’ve finished ten marathons. But this is the Grand. Freaking. Canyon. On the way back up, the ascent is called The Devil’s Staircase, which is exactly what everyone hopes for at the end of a 24 mile run, never.
The Blog Post: Lynne Hybels wrote a blog post titled Maybe I Can. Can you? I’d known about Lynne for years. She’s an advocate for global engagement, who travels to troubled places like Palestine and Democratic Republic of Congo, building relationships and praying for peace. She has a gentle heart but a fierce resolve to see God’s Kingdom come on earth, preferably now. Her blog explained the crazy caper that she’s attempting, which she’s calling Maybe I Can 2013:
Complete lunacy. That’s a long way, and Lake Michigan can be windy and wavy and unkind. Lest you think she’s a perky 28 year old with chiseled biceps, Lynne is feisty, but she’s also a grandma. (She may or may not have chisled biceps; I haven’t met her in person yet).
At the end of the post, she invited us all to think about doing something similarly crazy:
I loved the idea, so I immediately retweeted her post. I was surprised to get this tweet back from Lynne:
— lynne hybels (@lynnehybels) July 20, 2013
Her tweet helped me move from thinking about it to doing something. Something I was pretty sure I couldn’t pull off. Like run the Grand Canyon. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to raise money or awareness for yet, but I was pretty sure I was in. So I called my Uncle Ed and said, “I’m in!”
The Coffee: I have known Matt for fifteen years. We used to be youth pastors together. These days, he and his wife Nikki run Eyes That See, a non-profit, Christian organization dedicated to exposing the full worth of children, families, and communities worldwide through education and development. They do most of their work in Ethiopia.
Matt told me about a 14 year old Ethiopian woman who had been raped by her father, and was forced to turn to prostitution. Then he emailed me the stories of a bunch of other women just like her. I read story after story about young women who had become orphans, and were victims of abuse & manipulation, many times by their own families. They were discarded and lost.
Through The Keziah Project, Eyes that See has helped one hundred Ethiopian women receive intensive counseling, unconditional love, accredited education, future job training, and a safe environment to heal. These women have made successful transitions away from prostitution and into a paying job with a livable wage. They have a 100% job placement rate. Many of them have met Jesus. It’s unbelievable.
It costs just under $1,000 to put one woman through this program, which also includes setting them up with a new place to live and helping them land a job once they complete the program.
Here’s my unreasonable dream: That 2,000 of you would each give $25.
If that happens, we’ll reach our goal of $50,000. That is a big number. It’s staggering. I kept wanting to make it lower. But then I thought, that’s 50 actual women that we can help. That number is even more staggering to me. (If you’re sick of reading, and just want to donate, click here).
This is Nikki, co-founder of Eyes that See, with some Ethiopian friends.
When I was talking to Matt & Nikki about what the goal should be, I kept wanting the goal to be way lower. More manageable. Doable. But they are complete lunatics, so they kept pestering me to leave reasonable behind.
Matt actually said, “Listen, Steve, I want you to think about this: What is the number that excites you? Once you have that number, put on a pair of depends, and then decide to do it. You only have to do two things: run 24 miles in the Grand Canyon and write a blog post. Then watch what God does.”
Here’s how you can join in the lunacy of Rim to Rim for Eyes that See:
2. Please Share this blog post on twitter, facebook, email, pinterest, text, voxer, US mail, telegraph, over coffee, and any other method. If we can get 50,000 people to read this blog, I think we’ll reach our goal easily.
3. Do Something Yourself for Maybe I Can 2013. What feels a little unreasonable? What are you pretty sure you can’t pull off? Who might you be able to help? What’s stopping you? I’d love to hear what you’re planning.
Who’s with me?
Update: As of 9:00am on Friday, September 6 (Day Twenty-four), we have raised $52,140. We blew past our goal and we’re still going. Let’s keep this train moving. Thanks lunatics!