The biggest trail run of my life

A few weeks ago while camping in Les Vigneaux in the Hautes-Alpes region of France I went on what turned out to be the biggest trail run of my life - the Trail du collet la Salcette. The area is a paradise for outdoor sports with local tourist brochures dedicated to trail running, hiking, cycling, mountain biking, rafting and canoeing. The trail I chose was the red route, number 10 from the brochure Station de Trail with the following stats:
  • Km : 20.31
  • Ascent : 1389 m
  • Descent : 1389 m

My equipment

  • suncream applied, quick-drying shorts and t-shirt, trail-running shoes, bandanna, a 2 litre hydration pack filled with water, wind jacket, sandwiches, chocolate/muesli-bar snacks, emergency foil blanket, tissues, wet wipe, walking-map, GPS watch and smart phone.

The route

I was grateful for the smart phone App from Station de Tail which I could use to check my current location and reassure myself that I was still on the intended route. The signposting was not great. Some junctions had signs for several different routes and at other junctions the all important red square with a black number 10 was missing. You will see at the top of the map that on one occasion I missed my turn and had to retrace my steps (after doing a serpentine climb). By the time I consulted the map and returned to the point of error, I had lost about one hour. So what should have been 20.3 km ended up being a gruelling 26.55 km in the summer sun.
The constant climb on the trail and the warm conditions pushed me to my physical limits. Further up (around 2000 m) the effects of altitude meant that for longer stretches I could only walk. The advantage being that I was able to better take in the view. Towards the summit, the wind was cool and I was glad for my jacket. Realising that I would have to keep moving to keep warm, I took only a few photographs on the summit and started the decent looking for a sheltered place to have my lunch. I then ate the two nicest cheese sandwiches I have ever had!

Five minutes after continuing the descent I saw a red sign with the number 10, but after following that route for 2 minutes I could see from the terrain and the campsite, which was now visible, that the sign was pointing the wrong way. I retraced my steps and continued on the zig-zag trail down the steep slope.

The terrain changing constantly from single grass/dirt trail to forest road limestone with potholes, craggy outcrops, gravel, scree (which moved liked a avalanche), pine cones, mixture of roots and rocks, peat, several river crossings (where I could refill the hydration pack), and surfaced roads back to the campsite.

Not only was it physically challenging but it demanded all of my mountain navigational skills and running experience.

Why do I do it? 
Sorry, if you are asking that question I don't think I can answer it to your satisfaction. I am thankful to God for a healthy body to enjoy locations in his creation that most people don't get to see. That's what drives me on.

Trail running the Blue Ridge Mountains

The CEF International Conference was located at the Ridgecrest Christian Conference Centre in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. In between the many meetings, there was opportunity to get out and explore the Tranquillity Trial System - a wonderful network of steep trails rising from 800m - 1100m within and just outside the conference grounds. But it wasn't the terrain that kept the pulse high, it was the knowledge about the local wildlife, particularly bears, copperhead and rattle snakes that kept me fully alert and cautious while running. Another creature which needs to be shown respect here as in other parts of the world is the simple 'tick'! They came in all shapes and sizes and required a thorough check over after each run. Despite the dangers, the scenery was very rewarding.

Looking down on the conference centre

Billy Graham interview when he was 92

Q. If you could do it again, would you do anything differently?
A. I would travel less and read, study and pray more.

Q. Why would you travel less when you have been able to preach all over the world.
A. I would accept less speaking engagements at conferences. Concentrate on the crusades and winning people to Christ.

Q. What advice would you give to young preachers?
A. spend more time in study and prayer

Mission Website - Strengths vs Weaknesses

Mission Website - Strengths vs Weaknesses
The Web is a major part of anyone's search for a mission opportunity. It only makes sense. We do our school research, shopping, photo sharing and relationship building online. So why would we not use the Web when it comes to seeking out how and where we will serve in the Kingdom? But what makes for a good experience when looking for mission opportunities? Explore some of the strengths and weaknesses in this Missiographic.

The challenge of reaching the Unreached

Unapproachable, inaccessible in location or situation, untouched, untouchable, disconnected, unable to be met or out of touch. These are all words and descriptions given for yet another word: Unreached.

Leadership Matters Course at Kilchzimmer

The team of instructors at the 'Leadership Matters Course' in Kilchzimmer. (From back left) David Cummings (former International Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators), Chris Lorimer (OM France), Susana Turnbough (FWBIM), Carlos Diaz (Guatemala), Edward David (OM and LMC coordinator), (front) Rachel Johnson (OM), me and Jeff Turnbough (Director of Field Operations at Free Will Baptist International Missions).
I count it a tremendous privilege to have been able to serve as a trainer at the LMC course for 23 participants who are leaders working with various agencies across the world. I have been able to sharpen my own skills as well as investing in the coaching of other leaders from USA, GB, Ireland, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Austria, Spain, France, Barbados, Czech Republic, Malaysia and several other nations.

Instructor of Teachers Course in Kilchzimmer

Students, instructors, helpers and translators at the IOT 1+2 in Kilchzimmer.
In February the IOT2 and IOT1 were held in Kilchzimmer, Switzerland. We are thankful for the instructors (from Denmark, Finland, Austria, N. Ireland & Germany) and the students who came (from N. Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and Holland).

Bootcamp for CMLC teachers

25 people joined us in Kilchzimmer for the CMLC Teachers Boot Camp. Together we looked at how to improve the CMLC which is our main 12-week training course for children's workers. During the five days together we looked at the themes: 'How does it all fit together', 'CMLC Curriculum', 'Student Culture', 'Developing Effective Assignments', 'Self-evaluation', 'Trends to be Aware Of', 'Evaluating and Grading', and 'Life-long Learning'.

Bible Teaching from Czeslaw Bassara

The challenges of getting European missionaries connected!

Those who went for a walk up to the Belchen enjoyed a wonderful view of the Alps.

Serge Varga from the FES school shared with us about 'Kid Culture' and gave us a fresh perspective and new ideas.

Giving in 2013

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:19-20, ESV)

The above chart shows the total giving to our ministry in 2013. Each segment represents a donor (individuals or churches). If you are one of those people - THANK YOU!

What does the chart tell us? 

Well about half of the gifts we receive come from 5 or 6 larger donors. However the other half is made up of about 60 individuals/couples who pledge a monthly, quarterly or annual donation. The average gift from this group is around 30 GBP (50$) per month.

What's the message?

In missions, we need both the larger and the smaller donors. Everyone is important and everyone has a part to play – as the supermarket slogan says "every little helps". If you would like to find out more about joining our support team* click here.

We also need people who will support us in prayer. There are 600 people who receive our quarterly prayer letter or monthly update. To join these people in praying for us and the ministry of CEF click here and complete the short form.

*we do need new regular supporters