Salvation Run: Archbishop Moras walks 3 km with 1,600 Christians
Bengaluru: 1600 Christians from 13 Christian denominations clad in t-shirts marked “I belong to Christ’ joined a 5 and 3 kilometre marathon in the southern city of Bengaluru during the weekend. A couple with their 7-month child in a pram also caught the attention of the organizers and participants. Several participants were seen excitedly taking ‘selfies’ and photographs against the many hoardings at the venue. The inter-denominational event with a focus on ‘sports, discipline and the Christian life’ is the first of its kind in the country.
Soccer player Nihal Colaco (21) and Badminton player Shalini Jugya (22) also preparing for India’s top Civil Service Examinations (Indian Administrative Service) joined Archbishop Moras as ‘ambassadors’ of the Salvation Run in flagging-of the Marathon 2017. Olympian hockey player Jude Felix and Athlete Kenneth Powell and film-choreographer Danny joined the marathon to boost the spirits of participants by their presence and participation. The marathon was flagged-off at 6.32 am by Archbishop Bernard Moras at St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in the presence of Rt Rev PK Samuel Bishop KCD CSI, (Karnataka Central Diocese, Church of South India), Rt Rev Jesu Prasad -Believers Church, Rev Shyam P Thomas- Vicar Marthoma Church, Rev Samson- Karnataka Baptist Convention, Rev Samuel Rajkumar-Lutheran Church. Pastor Harry Pereira-Pentecostal Church, Franciscan (OFM) Minister Provincial Fr Praveen Henry D’Souza and religious leaders from the Assemblies of God. Former Bangalore City Police Commissioner and former Member of Parliament HT Sangliana also joined the 3 km marathon route.
Archbishop Moras who heads more than 4 million Catholics in the Southern Indian city before beginning a 3 km walk, at the launch in a brief but motivational speech said “Youth are the pillars of the Church. Give top-priority to your Faith-life and you will see how God leads you. Remain close to Christ and become witnesses to that Faith wherever you are. Your life of Faith and discipline will bring many people closer to Christ”. The Prelate emphasized on reflecting on the price Christ has paid for our Salvation. While 90 percent of the participants were youth, there were also participants even 70 years old. Along the marathon, 65-year old Selvanathan told Matters India correspondent (who also joined the Marathon), “It feels great to be part of this Marathon. I have never been in a marathon before. My son urged me to join in. I feel young.”
The run is the brainchild of Elvis Joseph, a former state athlete and sports management professional who wants leaders of all denominations to endorse and engage in faith-motivated sports and healthy lifestyle. This in turn he says “will create a thrill of competition, the sense of community and fellowship”. “I was taken by surprise when we had about 1000 online registrations and 1600 turned up. We feel it is God’s purpose. I feel thrilled and I hope young people realize that if they want to face the storms of life, they need to be firmly founded on Christ and His word. Nothing else matters, this the concept behind the Salvation Run” Elvis told media persons.
Elvis is scheduling plans to take the Salvation Run to other cities in India and make it an annual feature that will “bring all Christians together with a sense of serious commitment to live the Christian discipline”. Elvis, a Catholic, holds with conviction “Sports activities help people express their emotions and foster integrity, character and values in them. People will understand and respect one another and protect the environment. A sporting culture brings hope to children, youth and the community at large”. The 1600 participants received medals (their participation certifications accessible online) as they entered the finishing line at the Cathedral.
Participants were enthralled by ‘Drummers India Group’ a group of drummers from Africa headed by drummer Shyam when they were encouraged to use the scores of drums and ‘bonjos’ made available to them.