A mission for running kicking into high gear
Ministerial couple to run marathon to help pay for church
By Lynn R. Parks
Tom and Kim Birowski are putting their feet where their mouths are. And they hope that others follow up with the money.
The Birowskis, Seaford, are in training for a marathon to raise money for construction of a church building. Tom and Kim are co-pastors of Harvest Christian Church; with the run, they will raise at least $3,000 to help pay for a church planned for alternate US 13, between Laurel and Seaford.
"We told our congregation, 'We will do the running, you just write the check,' " said Birowski, 39, who has been minister at the church for eight and a half years. "We are willing to work hard physically, and I think that demonstrates our dedication to the project."
The Birowskis will participate in the Jesus Run, set for Aug. 18 in Denver, Colo. The run is organized by a non-profit group that works with a number of churches and religious organizations to help raise money for missions.
The Birowskis each have to raise $2,000 to have their trip and accommodations paid for by the Jesus Run organization; of that, 75 percent will be returned to their church building fund. They have already raised $3,700.
The congregation of Harvest Christian Church currently meets in the Seventh-day Adventist Church on US 13. Tom Birowski anticipates that ground-breaking for the new church will be this fall and that construction will be completed next year.
Estimated cost is $400,000.
Long-distance running has been a long-time dream of Kim Birowski.
"I've always said that I'd love to run a marathon," said Kim, who was running up to 20 miles a week before her marathon training began. "Then Tom was reading and he saw an ad for this run."
"I didn't know if raising money for a church building would qualify for a mission," her husband added. A veteran of two other marathons - the Boston in 1980 and one in Virginia Beach seven years later - he also did not entirely relish the idea of training for another. "I was kind of hoping they would say no," he grinned.
But the Jesus Run organization liked the idea of running to raise money for a new church building. The Birowskis began training for their 26.2-mile run in March.
Following a training schedule designed by Tom, the couple run the 2-mile circuit around Nanticoke Acres. Last Thursday, in their longest run until the actual marathon, they ran 10 loops, for a total of 20 miles.
"Most people don't realize what you are doing to your body when you run that far," Kim Birowski said. She likened the after-effects to those of childbirth: exhaustion and joint and muscle pain.
But as in childbirth, there is also exhilaration. "Exercise helps me to manage stress," she said. "I know that I am sleeping lots better at night."
The first 2 miles of the Birowskis' runs are completed in silence. But for the next 10 miles Ñ about 1 hour and 40 minutes Ñ the husband and wife alternate in praying aloud.
"We kind of tick down a prayer list," Tom Birowski said. "We pray for each other, for our children and for members of our family. And there is a lot going on in church Ñ we are taking on a lot of new challenges Ñ so there is a lot to pray for there."
Kim Birowski said that, in addition to strengthening their muscles and lungs, the running is building their marriage.
"We are learning to communicate better," she said. "If we don't communicate, it is hard to stay together when we are running, and that is translating into the rest of our marriage."
Both admit to a few nerves when they think about race day. "I have never run that far before, and I don't know how I will react to it," Kim Birowski said.
But neither doubts that they will finish, that they will finish together and that they will finish at a trot. "There is a very good possibility that we will be able to run the whole thing," said Tom Birowski.
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