US Christian runners bring the pro-life message to the Jerusalem Marathon
April 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of pro-life runners have brought their case for the unborn to Calvary.
The group, called LIFE Runners, traveled to Israel under the leadership of Dr. Pat Castle to take part in Israel's ninth Jerusalem Marathon.
"LIFE Runners ran in the footsteps of Christ to the highest point of faith on the planet and then knelt at Calvary," the group proclaimed in a press release. "We all race from the empty tomb with Good News for the world. All In Christ for eternal Life!"
LIFE Runners, whose motto is "God First, Life Always, Teammates Forever!" issues iconic jerseys to its runners, featuring the slogan "REMEMBER The Unborn — Jer. 1:5." Jeremiah 1:5, a popular Scripture passage among Christian pro-life activists, reads: "Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and made thee a prophet unto the nations."
The marathon event, which includes a 5K, 10K, and half-marathon, promises a comprehensive experience of Jerusalem. The marathon route starts at the building where the Knesset, Israel's parliament, meets. It ends after passing through the Valley of the Cross, featuring the ancient and majestic Monastery of the Cross, which, legend has it, provided the wood for the cross on which Christ was crucified.
LIFE Runners participating in the Jerusalem Marathon brought an extra jersey to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, laying it on the stone where Christ's body was placed after being brought down from the cross. The runners also visited the Tomb of the Holy Innocents and the Children's Memorial at Jerusalem's Holocaust Museum, where a landscape of candles memorializes the 1.5 million children killed in that atrocity.
"With 42 million children aborted every year worldwide, we pray and work to bring the holocaust to an end now," LIFE Runners wrote shortly after the marathon, which took place on March 15.
LIFE Runners came to Jerusalem with the help of Run for Zion, an organization dedicated to facilitating participation in the Jerusalem Marathon. The organization provides "significant subsidies ... including a potential free trip" to Israel for interested parties and arranges tours of the city. "Even more," the organization's website promises, "by supporting several ministries whose work provides for people in need, your participation will be a tangible blessing to Israel, affirming your partnership with God in blessing His people."
LIFE Runners has an established history of pro-life activism. In the United States, the group does an annual cross-country relay run. In 2019, participants will take legs of a cross-shaped 5,359-mile route between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge and between Grand Forks, North Dakota, and the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.
Jonathan Feldstein, the founder and president of the Genesis 123 Foundation, of which Run for Zion is a project, considers it a special privilege to allow Christians to take part in the marathon. "As an Orthodox Jew," Feldstein told CBN News, "it's just so awesome and humbling for me to be able to provide that experience for people." Feldstein considers himself called "to fellowship with Christians to serve as a bridge between Jews and Christians and to help connect Christians to Israel in a meaningful way." This is the "first year," according to Feldstein, "that anyone in the history of the Jerusalem Marathon has promoted this as a Christian experience."
Castle, a former medical squadron commander with a Ph.D. in nano-analytical chemistry, exulted to CBN News on the day of the marathon: "My goodness, we are in the Promised Land!"
"As the founder and the president of the largest pro-life team in the world," he continued, "it is an absolute blessing to represent 10,617 teammates here."
Abortion was illegal in Israel until 1977, when the law was changed to allow a committee to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the procedure should be carried out. The Termination of Pregnancy Committee grants the vast majority of abortion requests, with the majority of requests made on the grounds that the mother is unmarried. In 2014, abortion became publicly funded for mothers 20 to 33 years old.