NPU Professor to Run Boston Marathon for Caucasus Orphanages

By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (March 20, 2014) — Editor’s note: The 2014 Boston Marathon will be run April 21. With the race one month away, Covenant News Service is publishing stories of Covenanters who plan to participate because of the deadly bombings last April 15. Today’s stories focus on Boaz Johnson, professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University, and Kyle Small, associate dean and associate professor of church leadership at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.

Boaz Johnson, professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University, is running this year’s Boston Marathon as a way to redeem the 2013 tragedy in whatever way he can.

He will run to raise money to benefit orphanages in the Caucasus, the native region of the two bombers. “I thought what better way to share Jesus than to raise money for orphanages in that area,” he says.

Along with millions of others, Boaz watched the events last April 15 as they unfolded on TV. He had run the Boston Marathon in 2009 and remembered crossing the finish line at the same spot on Boylston Street where the two bombs exploded.

“I was overcome by shock,” he says.

So he went for a run wearing the shirt he wore in the 2009 race. As he ran, he prayed for the families who had lost loved ones and for the numerous people who were injured.

He also kept asking himself, “What would Jesus do in response to this act of horrible terror?”

When Boaz returned home, he emailed Bruce Johnson, pastor of Community Covenant Church, which is located near the marathon’s starting line in Hopkinton, to say he would run this year’s race.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Bruce says. “Everyone else isn’t even beginning to be able to process what was happening, and already he was letting me know he wanted to run this year.”

Qualifying times to participate in the Boston Marathon are stringent. But the church receives a few highly prized numbers each year, which it gives to runners who agree to raise money for the church’s campership fund, as well as any other charity the runner identifies. The campership money is used to help underprivileged children from the Boston area attend Camp Squanto during the summer. In 2009 Boaz ran with one of those numbers.

He learned of the orphanages through Andrey and Albina Kravtseva, fellow members of Redeemer Life Covenant Church in Vernon Hills, Illinois. The couple has ministry connections to the orphanages.

The marathon will be Boaz’s eighth. He had planned for the 2009 race to be his last.

The professor ties his reason for running to his motivation to teach. “I teach because I strongly believe that the future of global society and the gospel lies in the hands of our kids—here in the United States and in places like the Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union.”

To contribute to Boaz’s fundraising efforts, click here.

Tomorrow we will publish stories of two Covenanters who ran in 2013 and will return for this year’s race. Julie Miller of Alexandria, Minnesota, had finished the race and was just a couple blocks away when the blasts occurred. Dave Cairns, executive director of Pilgrim Pines Conference Center, was only two-tenths of a mile from reaching the finish line. 

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