|Rachel (left) and Karista after running the Kansas City marathon|
By Owen Wilkie
When you call the U.S. Relations Department at the Assemblies of God World Missions Headquarters, chances are you will talk to Rachel Malone, the receptionist. However, if you called the first part of December you probably missed her because she was in Florida receiving a prestigious award.
It all started on April 29, 2003. Suffering from growing headaches for five years, she was finally diagnosed with a brain tumor. They did emergency surgery the next day.
The doctors believed the surgery was a success and Rachel feels blessed. “Whenever a doctor says, ‘We don’t know how you’re still alive,’ it’s hard to describe how that affects you. I know life is short. We may have no control over what happens to us, but what we can control is how we think about life — how we choose to handle what comes our way.”
After the surgery, however, where they relieved 10 pounds of pressure from her brain, Rachel remembers: “The tumor had been building up slowly for all those years, so after the surgery it was hard to learn how to walk again, hard to balance. I was moving very slowly for awhile.”
Three years later, in 2006, Rachel was working at a gym when an elderly gentleman suggested she run a marathon. “I kind of laughed,” Rachel says. “After all I’d been through I thought, ‘I can’t do that.’ But before I said ‘can’t’ I thought: ‘Why not?’
“So I really did something off the wall for me. In May of 2006 I signed up to run the San Francisco marathon in October of that year.”
Since that first 26.2-mile event she also ran the Chicago Marathon in 2008 and the Kansas City Marathon in October of 2009.
The day before the marathon in Kansas City she came upon a booth that was advertising the nationwide BP (British Petroleum) Younger for Longer Challenge. This challenge asked runners to share their story as to “how they maintain health and vitality to run younger for longer.”
“I almost walked right by the booth,” Rachel admits, “but a friend of mine called my attention to it and encouraged me to enter. So I did.”
Rachel shared her story on video and, from several thousand entries, was chosen as the grand prize winner.
Click here to watch the video.
One December 9, 2009, she flew to Fort Lauderdale. Included in her award package she met Olympic swimmer Dana Torres, stayed free at a 5-star hotel, enjoyed the beach and met several British Petroleum executives. She also walked away with gift cards for $10,000 in gasoline.
“I JUST PLANTED A LOT OF SMALL SEEDS”
During her trip to Florida, and even now, Rachel is able to share her testimony. “People would say how lucky I was, and I would respond that God blessed me, which would open the way to sharing my testimony — I guess I just a planted a lot of small seeds.”
Rachel is now back at work answering the phone, doing her other work at U.S. Relations, and training for her next marathon.
Looking back over these events in her life she comments: “God is good to us. No matter what we are facing, He is right there with us. Not one tear drop or worry goes unnoticed. He promises to help us. Even though we go through seasons of our lives where our faith is tested, we can rest in Him knowing He is in control.”
Owen Wilkie is the Web editor in U.S. Relations for the Assemblies of God World Missions.
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