It only took a dozen people from Springwood Anglican Church to make a real difference in Africa.
When told that it would only cost a few thousand dollars to put roofs on five churches and help a number of carpentry businesses, they set out to raise funds by doing the famous City to Surf fun run... in the Blue Mountains.
The run was the brainchild of Springwood’s senior assistant minister, the Rev Stephen Liggins, himself a keen distance runner.
“In COVID lockdown a lot of fun runs got cancelled,” he explains. “I thought I’d like to do the virtual City to Surf – in its 50th year – in that I could run the 14 kilometres here in the Blue Mountains at a time over the relevant weekend that did not clash with my Sunday church commitments.”
There was a positive response among walkers and joggers in the church, even from Ruth Gilmour, who is in her 80s.
“Ruth is something of a legend at our church – a fine Christian lady… she plays the organ, taught SRE up until this year, visits a lot of people and is one of the most encouraging people you will ever meet. She also walks a lot!” Mr Liggins says.
“From those acts I understand that you are now here with us in the Congo!”
The church supports Bishop Muhindo Isesomo in the Congo, so the recipient of the fundraising was a no-brainer.
“The bishop suggested we could put corrugated iron on five churches for about $2750 [Australian] and we could help kick-start a number of carpentry businesses for the same amount,” Mr Liggins says. “So we aimed to raise $5500. A little money can go a long way in Africa.”
In all, more than a dozen walkers joined in the event. Mr Liggins found that many congregation members who might have sponsored him switched their allegiance to Ruth Gilmour – who became like a Blue Mountains version of Captain Tom Moore, the elderly war veteran who recently walked to raise money for charity during lockdown in Britain.
“Ruth walked from her retirement village to the local shops a few times,” Mr Liggins says. “It is quite a distance. She did it over about two days. I was having an early morning coffee one of those days with my wife and there was Ruth doggedly pushing her walking frame down the far side of Hawkesbury Road!”
By the end of the event, $11,000 had been raised – twice the original target. Bishop Isesomo was impressed. “It is wonderful to hear about this miracle God has done for us,” the bishop wrote. “From those acts I understand that you are now here with us in the [Democratic Republic of] Congo!”
The Springwood walkers might not have ventured that far, but they will certainly make a difference to their brothers and sisters more than 13,000 kilometres away.