Archived Voice Articles
Three Dordt students run a marathon for missions
By Jane Ver Steeg
What has six legs and a heart?
The answer: three Dordt College students, whose heart for mission work on West Africa’s Ivory Coast has led them to use what they have (the ability to run) to raise what they don’t have (cash) to support a recent Dordt graduate who is doing agricultural mission work in his home country.
These Dordt College roommates are men with a mission: They’re running a marathon to raise funds for a former classmate who graduated last year and is doing ag mission work on West Africa’s Ivory Coast. Pictured are (from left) Justin Carruthers, Jay Holmes, and Daniel Davis.
The roommates, Justin Carruthers, Daniel Davis, and Jay Holmes, officially call themselves the Dea Lieu Marathon Support Group. They partnered to run the 26.2 mile Siouxland Lewis and Clark Marathon on October 18 in Sioux City. Their purpose is to demonstrate God’s love to the people served by Dea and his organization, The Association For The Fight Against Poverty.
“I hate running,” Daniel Davis passionately admits when asked about running a marathon. The junior theology student from Glendale, Arizona, plans to go into youth ministry when he graduates. He said it was actually because he wasn’t into running that he decided it would be an appropriate sacrifice to train and participate in one to benefit mission work.
But not just any mission: “There are a lot of missions, but Dea’s ministry model is incredible,” says Davis, referring to his former classmate at Dordt. “Instead of just feeding people in his war-torn country, he’s actually teaching men to fish and equipping them to do it. He’s totally dedicated to this ministry.”
“I see what he’s doing, and it’s inspiring to me,” adds Justin Carruthers, a junior pre-seminary student from Alberta, Canada. “Running has always been a passion of mine and supporting Dea’s ministry in this way has great personal significance.”
Dea Lieu fled from his home with a wife and five children in 2003, in the minutes following a bloody invasion by rebel troops. They spent four months in the jungle, after which his wife and children returned to the very unsettled city of Danané. Lieu could not yet return to his agricultural ministry job at his church, so he decided to seek additional training in agriculture and theology to prepare for “when things got better.”
After making some contacts, Dea was offered free tuition to attend a junior college in Tennessee that had the combination of theology and agriculture courses he desired. While there, he began searching the Internet for a place to finish a four-year degree.
“Dordt College was the only college I found that offered both an agriculture program and theology,” recalls Dea. He said the teaching was good, and “I learned more about some things I knew a little about, and I’ve learned about many things I knew nothing about.”
After four years away from his family, Dea returned to the Ivory Coast in 2007 with his degree, eager to try to share what he’s learned with his community through agriculture ministry.
Farming is difficult in Africa, where there is no machinery to clear and plant fields. Dea hopes to introduce new methods to help farmers – who can now barely feed themselves – get better yields, allowing them to sell produce in the cities and better support themselves. He also plans to share better animal breeding methods with farmers, to help in macro-managing communities, and to minister to spiritual needs, helping farmers grow in their Christian faith. When farmers complete Dea’s program, they receive livestock and a loan to begin their own farm operation, so they can feed their families and eventually the community.
“I think as Christians we are called to help others,” says Jay Holmes, the third member of the Dea Lieu Marathon Support Group. “We don’t have an abundance of money and time, but we have our bodies and our health.” Holmes is a health, physical education, and recreation major from Phoenix, Arizona.
The Dordt roommates who make up Team Dea trained regularly, running an average of forty-five miles a week. They hoped to be up to seventy miles a week by the day of the marathon, which took place October 18.
To support this team effort, donors made per mile donations, or contributed during two Pizza Ranch tip nights in Sioux Center in October.