‘The Reason I Run'
March 2020
Congratulations to SEND Japan missionary John Edwards, who won a citywide Toastmasters contest for a speech he delivered in Japanese about his daily jogging habit. 
Looking for a way to connect with Japanese who do not yet know Christ, John joined Toastmasters about a year ago. After he delivered his winning speech, he was asked to share a quotation that inspires him. 
He answered: “Jesus said to 'Love your neighbor,' and our neighbor is anyone who is around us.”
Now John will take this speech to a city just outside Tokyo for the division contest—and for another opportunity to share the message of Christ. Here’s John’s winning speech, translated into English. If you want to watch him deliver it in Japanese, click here

The Reason I Run 

By John Edwards in Japan
I run five mornings per week. I run weekdays, 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. But why do I run? My reason may surprise you.
I think many people run for exercise. Running is good for my heart, my lungs and my muscles, but it’s not the reason I run.
Some people run to train for a race. I’ve had some experience running for races in college and as an adult. But I’m not really training for a race now. It’s not the reason I run.
Some people run to reduce stress. To be honest, this was a big reason I ran when I was a student. Even now I sometimes need to run to burn some energy and reduce stress. But it’s not the most important reason I run.
The reason I run is to make society better. My wife and I moved to Sendai because we wanted to help people after 3.11. But what can we actually do? We moved to Iwakiri in 2013, and I began to run to learn about the neighborhood. Every morning I would take a different route. I even got lost a couple times. One day I came upon many children walking. I wondered where they were walking, so I followed them. Of course, they saw me so I said, “Good morning!” They walked to the elementary school. It was about 7:30 when I ran that day. So I decided to run the same way the next day. I saw more children. I called out, “Good morning!” I discovered there was a junior high school nearby, too. 
The next day I began running in front of the elementary school and junior high school two or three or four times. I met many children—probably over 400 every day. Many of the children are sleepy in the morning and some of them walk over a kilometer. In fact, when I ask junior high school students, “How are you?” the most common answer is, “I’m sleepy.” 
Some children walk to school every morning by themselves. They look lonely. Many children walk in groups of two or three, but some walk alone. Perhaps school for them is a sad experience. I know some junior high school students who rarely go to school. Finally, I occasionally see children who are bullied. Their classmates hit them and call them names. Perhaps sometimes they are playing, but sometimes I do not think it is play. The bullying stops when I run near them and call out, “Good morning.”

SEND Japan intern greets schoolchildren
John Edwards also heads up the D House Sendai internship program. Here, D House intern Tim talks with children along John’s running route.   

One morning the children were lined up by the gate for greeting duty. I ran between the lines with my hands out for high fives. Many children gave me high fives. So from that day, I always put my hands up for high fives. Some children started to ask me questions, “Are you a foreigner?” “What’s your name?” “Where do you live?” Sometimes they would practice English. “Hello. How are you?” “How old are you?” “What color do you like?” Some children challenge me to rock-paper-scissors. “First is rock …” One day, a little girl went under my outstretched arm and gave me a hug. I was surprised and moved. Now it is not unusual when I get a hug. Sometimes boys will grab my hands and run with me 100 meters. One day a boy, perhaps third grade, took my hand and ran with me about 1,000 meters! 
The reason I run is to make a better community. In front of Iwakiri Elementary School there is a sign that says: “With greetings and smiling faces, let’s make a kind town.” I like that. We can do that. Even if we don’t run, we can greet others with a smile. By doing that, let’s make a better Sendai.
Thank you.

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John Edwards
John and his wife, Susan, have served in Japan since 1993. They train potential future missionaries through the D (Discipleship) House internship program in Sendai.