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Running with Perseverance

“We’re committed to return to Mexico, body, soul, and spirit!” Those are the words we share as we promote our ministry in preparation for our third term as missionaries. On November 2nd, it was time to put our money where our mouth was. That was when I (Dave) would run the Bass Pro Conservation Marathon as a fundraiser to accelerate our physical return.

The distance of the marathon is 26.2 miles. It’s enough to push the limits of physical endurance and bring determination to the breaking point, a fitting analogy for the uphill struggle that can be the task of raising the support required to return to the field. Still, at 4 AM, analogies were all but forgotten. The harsh reality of the immediate goal of running the distance had made it impossible for me to remain in bed. It was time to get going.

The morning routine was familiar. I had done it all before, but I was as nervous as if it had been my first race. There were physical concerns: could my body handle the distance? Then there was the fear of letting down our supporters: would I be able to make good on my promise of finishing the marathon?

The sight of my team, the Godzwa Family (accompanied by my mother-in law, Kim), brought relief. I wasn’t running alone. Their encouragement all through the race helped me see that they weren’t holding my commitment against me. They, along with our supporters, were pulling for me to finish.

The race then became 26.2 miles of affirmation, my body remembering its training, and my mind soaking in the support it received at every critical point until I finally reached my goal, in record time.

In the wake of our marathon effort and in this month of Thanksgiving, we take this time to recognize your role in helping us run the race, realize the vision, and make the difference in Mexico.

‘Til He comes,


PS. While we’re tabulating the results of our fundraising tied to the marathon effort, there is still a window of opportunity to be counted among the members of our support team! Follow the link for details on how you can be a part.

PPS. Photos from the race are available here!

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Running the Race

Help send us to Mexico by supporting our marathon effort!

Here’s the scoop:

  • Dave will be running the Bass Pro Marathon, a 26.2 mile race on November 2, 2014.
  • You can participate by sending in a special gift in support!.
  • All of the funds collected will go towards our relocation expenses of $7500.

Here’s how to participate:

  • Giving through our secure donation link:, or
  • Sending in a check to AGWM @ 1445 N Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65802.
    (Be sure to add “Acct #2696136” to the memo line so that your funds reach our account.)

Give us a shout!

  • When you’re finished, let us know about your participation by sending us an email!

Thanks for your support!


Halfway there…


If you’ve been following our 100×100 campaign, I’m happy to say that we’re halfway there! Well, at least from a training standpoint:

As you’ve seen from past posts, I’ll be running a marathon, 26.2 miles, for the third time in my missionary career with the goal of speeding the return of the Godzwa family to the field. Along the way, we’re seeking the help of one hundred churches and individuals who will sponsor this endeavor and help the goal become a reality.

This past Saturday, I simulated the conditions for 13.1 of those miles,  covering half the distance of the marathon in under two hours! While there is still work to be done, like a 19 miler this weekend, I’m pleased with my progress. Nevertheless, even if I’m in the best shape of my life, this effort will fail without your support!

There are two ways to help:

  1. Head to our support link now to donate online. Be sure to add “100×100” to the comments section so we know you’re supporting our marathon effort.
  2. Print our pamphlet to share with your church or small group. All the information that you need is there.

The opportunities are knocking, and our ministry partners are urging us to return with all speed. Will you respond along with us?

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This is part two of our progress report the comeback that started in January of this year.

Think you can't participate in a comeback? Jonathan lifts me showing that a little can go a long way.

When we last talked, I was detailing the return that I had made from sitting on the shelf after my marathon to racing with a personal record in the Kitchen Run 5K. But that was just half of the story.

Back in January of 2010, we were facing a mountain as we attempted to return to Mexico. Because of our change of status, from Special Assignment to General Appointed Missionaries, the increase in time from a three year term to a four year term, and the attrition that comes from being out of the United States for 4 years, we needed to raise an additional 2,000 dollars of monthly support.

Although the current economic climate didn’t make the prospect of reaching our goal by August 31st any easier, we were optimistic. We knew that God had called us to a work as yet unfinished. He had given us a vision and a passion to see it fulfilled. With this in mind, we set ourselves to the work.

January was a slow month, but February saw our calendar full with services, sectional councils, and Light for the Lost Dinners close behind. Momentum was building, but the bulk of our work was still in front of us. By mid-March, as I analyzed our progress, I found that we needed to average about $72 in additional monthly support each week if we were to reach our commitment goal at the designated time. So I set myself to work, recontacting churches and individuals and sharing our need.

The first two weeks saw us meet our goal as certain churches agreed to do more and others became new partners. Then we surpassed our goal by double the amount, then triple as partners, both new and old resonated with our message and responded to our need. We had worked hard, but we had the feeling that we were witnessing a miracle.

As I post this update, we now stand at 94%, needing just $469 in monthly support to reach the field by the end of August. We’ve seen new support coming in at an average of $97 per week, and our weekly goal has been more than cut in half as we have dropped from needing $72 each week to $34 in order to make our departure deadline. We’re ecstatic to say the least!

Our comeback is in full steam, but we take nothing for granted as we set our sights on our return date. We don’t want to limp to the end; we want to storm past the finish line, ready to throw ourselves into the work. So, we continue to travel the country. We continue to schedule services and announce our need to all who will listen. We work as if it depended on us, but we pray, knowing that it all depends upon God.

So, as you read this post, we’d ask you, Are you interested in participating in our comeback? Perhaps you’ve met us at a church and have kept track of us through our website, but you’ve never had the opportunity to partner with us. Perhaps you’ve been reacquainted with us through the wonders of Facebook or Twitter and are just now getting excited about what God is doing in Mexico. Perhaps you’ve partnered with us for some time, but feel led to do more. We’d love to talk to you about how you can help.

Just respond to using the email link at the bottom of this post, or contact us through our contact page on our website. We’ll step you through the ways that you can be a part of sending us and keeping us on the field in Mexico–a part of making our comeback a reality!

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Making a Comeback

Everyone loves to hear of a great comeback story, be it an individual overcoming adversity to make it back on top, a favorite music group returning to the stage, or a sports team returning to its former glory. We love it because we appreciate how hard it is to repeat success. Athletes age, teams change players, and taste preferences in music seem to change with the fashions. So when the comeback happens, we realize that we a receiving a gift, something truly special.

Allow me to let you in on a comeback in progress…

This last year, I ran a marathon. I finished in the best time in which I’d ever run a marathon: 3 hours 37 minutes and 52 seconds. It was a great moment. However, that run has left me on the sidelines, stuck with a leg injury that has persisted for 3 months and counting. On top of that, during my examination, my doctor found that I also have arthritis in my ailing right leg, perhaps complicating my recovery. Some would say it’s time to hang up the running shoes. I say it’s time for a comeback.

Six months ago, we were on the field in Mexico wrapping up our first term as missionaries in the state of Yucatan. We were elated to have played a small part in the successes in the lives of students and pastors with whom we had ministered. We had built relationships and were looking toward opportunities to leverage these successes in future ministry. However, eight months away from our scheduled return date, we have a mountain of monthly support to raise, currently at the height of some $2,000. Some would despair at such a goal to reach. I say, “It’s comeback time.”

So rally cap in place, I’m starting the process to return, understanding that the recipe for success probably will change. As I built up for the marathon last year. I added on mileage slowly but surely until I reached a 50 mile per week peak during my high intensity marathon training. This time, I’ve got more than a mileage buildup to concern myself with. I’ve got an injury to figure out and a recovery to plan. So, I’m currently going through physical therapy twice a week with the goal to return to running. I’m also looking to alternative methods to promote healing from self-massage to chiropractic care. I’m also dedicating myself to nutrition, making sure that my tank is full of the fuel I need to power this comeback. Do I have a timetable? Sure, I’d like to see myself in a 10k race some time this spring.

Our return to Mexico can be thought of similarly. We’ve come back to the States to raise our budget in an economic recession, meaning many potential donors are feeling the budgetary pinch. We’re also returning to a Southern Missouri District that has 7 other missionary families currently raising support at the same time we are. However, we live in a time where connections are more diverse and easily sustainable and potential audiences are more abundant. We plan to leverage these connections, networking as we are able to reach these future partners, and maintaining that partnership with them through tools we never dreamed of only four years ago.

Of course, in all of this, one thing has not changed. We serve the same God who is able to to exceedingly and abundantly more than we ask, think or imagine. So while we work on this comeback as though it all depended on us, we pray knowing that it all depends upon Him. He is the one who provides the breakthroughs, stirs hearts, and cements friendships through whatever medium those contacts occur.

So I’m making a comeback, physically and ministerially, and I’m committed to putting in the work, while depending on God for the results. Wanna come along? There’s still room on the bandwagon!

How about you? Are you poised for a comeback? How do you see it happening? Have any tips that we all could benefit from?

Photo: Rally Cap by Rich Anderson

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It was 3:00 AM and I couldn’t sleep. I had gone to bed the night before, skipping the Yankees’ game, with the hope that the early evening drowsiness would translate into some solid rest. I managed a to get a few hours in, but, by the time that the clocks rolled back at 2:00, I knew my tossing and turning had become annoyingly obvious. Now, having held myself down for as long as I possibly could, I decided to get my day started.

I made my way into the kitchen. Coffee, toast and peanut butter, and a glass of orange juice were the pre-race fare while my eyes fell upon this excerpt from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest:

“Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of God’s purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity. And all the so-called Christian sympathy of others helps us to our deathbed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, as if to say, ‘Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine.'”

I had known the pain of the marathon before. It is a grueling test of physical endurance and mental toughness. Certainly there were “easier ways” to raise money for missions–ways that didn’t require months of preparation accompanied by the sacrifice of the ones I love most. At the same time, I knew of no other fund raising method that spoke of the total commitment that is the call to missions. I knew as well that pain, as I mention in this post, has a way of forming us and shaping us in ways no other experience can. While I didn’t look forward to the pain this day’s marathon would certainly bring, I knew that persevering and pushing through it would bring personal growth I couldn’t experience otherwise.

2009-11-01 MarathonPrep

After I finished my breakfast, I took to the task of finalizing the preparation that I had made the night before.

Race number, check. timing chip, check. Energy gels, check.

I made coffee for Kelly who made sure the kids were up and ready for the ride to the starting line, and we were off.

Kelly dropped me at Bass Pro, the outdoor store here in Springfield that served as the headquarters for the event and returned to feed the kids while I took in the pre-race service that the coordinators had offered. Pastor Mark Zimmerman encouraged us to “enjoy the change” that running had brought and gave us three trustworthy sayings to keep in mind. “Be smart from the start. Break through barriers, and go the distance.” Each phrase is vitally important to marathoners as we face the unique test that 26.2 miles presents, but also to Christians as we continue on our spiritual journey.

With the service over, there was the trip to the facilities, which, unlike past marathons wasn’t as urgent or frequent. I had cut out milk the day before, and limited my calories. Instead of gorging on pasta, I had a normal dinner which included sweet potatoes, my secret source of power. The result was a much calmer 30 minutes before the start.

2009-11-01 JoelAndIOn the way to the bag check before my trip to the starting line, I got a chance to connect with a good friend, Joel Maxwell. He was running the marathon 9 years after being run over while trying to question a criminal on the Evangel University campus in Springfield, MO. (You can read his marathon story online at the News Leader website.) We got a quick picture, and then it was outside to get the marathon started.

In the parking lot where the race was to start, I warmed up a bit to get my legs ready for the 8:10 pace that I was planning to run. Then we were called in to take our places. I lined up with the 7:00-8:00 pace per mile runners as we bowed our heads for the invocation and then stood at attention for the National Anthem before the count down from 10 for the marathon. Then, we were off.

I abruptly found that I had lined up a bit too far in front as a sea of humanity rushed past me in the first half mile. I was tempted to be carried along with the crowd, but the understanding that the majority of the starters were only running the half marathon and the digital companion, Garmin, on my watch told me to hold back. My plan was to run nice and easy for the first 10, concentrate on holding my pace for the second ten, and then evaluate and determine whether to attack the last 6.2 or to just hold on for the finish.

Looking for a pacing partner, I fell into step with Brad Kielhofner, an employee for Missouri State University. He was shooting for an 8:15 pace. We chatted for the next 10 miles about our marathon experiences our family, and our faith. Running with Brad also garnered me some additional support as it seemed that at each bend in the road there were people that he knew cheering him on.

The course up to mile 4 was fairly flat and fast. By this time we had diverged from the street onto the greenway that runs parallel to Lone Pine Avenue in the southeast section of Springfield. At one point, this trail passes below Battlefield Road, a major thoroughfare through a culvert that had been converted to handle pedestrian access. With all of the rain in the recent weeks, the creek that runs through the culvert had flooded a portion of the pedestrian tunnel. Though the water might not have been more than an inch in depth, even high stepping wasn’t enough to keep our feet dry.

2009-11-01 SignsThe dampening experience was short lived, however, as I was greeted by my own cheering section as I emerged from the tunnel. At home, Kelly and the kids had fashioned their own signs and they were yelling their support for their marathoner. Their encouragement helped me forget about the water seeping through my shoes and press on, knowing I’d see them throughout the course. In fact, they were also at mile 12, 15, 21 and 23 before hustling to greet me at the finish.

After the first ten miles, I said goodbye to Brad and began to pick up the pace a bit in order to stay in stride with my digital companion. Along the way, I ran with Dink Sommer, a Joplin resident, who was looking to run a 3:40 marathon. I also got a chance to see Norma Garnica (a first-time marathoner running for God4Girls), Mike McCreary (the young adults pastor from Central A/G) also a first-timer, and Joel again as several switch backs had runners from all paces greeting one another on the trail. A bathroom break had me fall off pace for a bit, but I was steadily making up ground and pulling even with Garmin, my digital friend, by mile 21.

Here though, the marathon began to take on its familiar humbling personality. Now snaking through the southeastern portion of Springfield, the marathon course passed close to more low water crossings. At various points, the trail was flooded with no easy path to avoid a soaking. Also, the marathon began a steady climb, from the lower trail portion of the race to the city streets ascending back to Bass Pro Shops. All of this, coupled with the miles I’d already run, took their toll as my pace steadily increased from 8:10 per mile to 8:30, eventually to a 9:30 pace.

2009-11-01 WallThis is what is known as the wall, where fatigue and pain rear their ugly heads. This is point in the race where your body tells you to quit and every step becomes a matter of will. By mile twenty-four my mantra had become, just 20 more minutes, Dave, you can hang on until then.

We passed over a bridge, then into the neighborhood behind Bass Pro. The course turned, then turned again. With each turn, I looked ahead for signs of the finish line approaching, but was greeted by only one tree lined street after another. The spectators were absent, the volunteers, having worked now for hours, noticeably silent. Still, I labored on, each step seemingly slower than the last. I was sure that Garmin, his digital legs unaffected by the distance, his virtual feet untouched by the dampness, was laughing at me now nearly a half mile in front.

Still, out of the fog that had become those last few miles, the finish line appeared. I heard the music. I saw the spectators, and I then they announced my name. I was finishing!

“Lift your hands,” Dave, I told myself. “Look up!”

2009-11-01 Finish

I crossed the finish line with the last of the energy that I had. I was spent, but it was worth it. I had crossed the line at 3 hours, 37 minutes and 52 seconds, a personal best by nearly 12 minutes!

2009-11-01 FamilyMy only thought was to see my family. I passed around the barriers and through the crowd to find them. Hugging them brought closure to a year-long journey of running this marathon. We had done it together. This was a team accomplishment.

So as Oswald Chambers’ words seemed to prophesy, I had experienced pain, but I hadn’t collapsed. I hadn’t sat down. I had labored on. On the way, I’d met some great people and shared in some great stories. All of us overcoming, all of us breaking through barriers, all of us growing through the momentary suffering that is the marathon.

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NL22DaveRunningFor those of you who have been following our updates or have met us in one of our services, you know that I’ve been planning to run a marathon in order to raise funds for our return to Merida in the fall of 2010. Well, that marathon is only days away! That’s right, this Sunday, November 1st, at 7:00 AM, I’ll be toeing the line of the Bass Pro Conservation Marathon, preparing myself for the 26.2 mile journey through Springfield MO to the finish line.

Now, you may ask, “Why are you telling me?” It’s because there is still time to be a part of this major event in our itineration schedule. We need $48,000 in cash in order to return to Mexico, $30,000 of those dollars to be raised are designated to expand the Bible school facilities in Merida, Mexico, which currently houses 4 separate programs, from undergraduate to the master’s level, in just 2 classrooms.

I understand that 48,000 may seem a bit overwhelming, but if we break down the sum into the miles that it takes for us to return to the field, that total can seem much more attainable. It takes 2240 miles to reach Merida from Springfield, MO where we currently reside. Breaking that total down, we come to roughly $22 dollars per mile for us to reach our destination. Would you be able to commit this week to a mile or perhaps more to get us closer to our destination?

If you’d like to know more about this effort, you can visit, where you will find a PDF flyer and a link to enable you to give securely on-line.

If you’ve already responded to another request, thank you! If you haven’t, there’s still time, but only if you respond today!

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