James Hartline Films - The Beautiful Children: A Celebration of Champions in San Diego. James Hartline films hundreds of pediatric cancer patients as they marched during a parade for healing in this beautiful and inspiring segment of his miracle journal Running 4 God. I am running for God and He leads me as I go. Exactly five months ago, I nearly died and was hospitalized for seven days while having emergency surgery. In addition to battling AIDS, Hepatitis C, HIV wasting and degenerating of the joints, my weight dropped to 134 lbs after the doctors removed a nearly-ruptured gall bladder.
Five months ago, the Lord pruned my existence upon this earth, refining me once again in the furnace of affliction. I faded, but my faith increased. While others in similar circumstances would have perished from the face of the earth, I rose upon the swirling winds of God's promises of restoration. The shackles of infirmity cannot bind my faith, nor imprison my obedience to Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals me. For five months since the hospitalization and surgery, I have put on my running shoes and I have run with faith.
For five months, I have run stronger and swifter. There is pain in the running, but there are also rewards at the end of each extension of my endurance. With every breath pushed deeper into the burning embers of waning fatigue, I experience growing stability in my stride and confidence in the course that lies ahead.
On Saturday morning, I ran eight miles in 1 hour and 1 minute. It has been 154 days since the hospitalization and surgery. There are two weeks remaining until the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon. Will I actually be ready to complete a 1/2 marathon just 22 weeks after a near-death experience? That is the question I asked myself as I set out for my Saturday morning training run. As I completed the training run, God had an answer waiting for me.
What you are about to watch in this video is what I captured on my pocket-sized mini-camera at the end of my run. As I began to cool down and catch my breath, I walked into the path of the parade of children you will see in the video. Their brightly colored t-shirts were so eye-catching that the distant observer might overlook the reality that many of the children were jaundice and limping. Some of the children were so thin that the slightest wisp of ocean breeze would have knocked them to their feet had they not had a crutch, a walking cane or an accompanying adult to lean upon. Yet, for all their obvious physical disadvantages, these children were walking in triumphant exuberance. My eyes surveyed their joyful parade and my mind recorded the experience as if I was watching the royal victors marching in celebration after winning an impossible battle in a great war.
These are the beautiful children. Every child in this parade has been battling pediatric cancer. If I hadn't heard the event emcee declaring over a loudspeaker the names of each child and the purpose for their marching, I would not have known why they were there. I had started my Saturday run to train myself for a marathon and I finished my run with an inspiring glimpse of hundreds of children who are training for the marathon of life. Their parade was part of the Rady Children's Hospital annual event to support pediatric cancer patients called A Celebration of Champions. For a brief moment in the sunshine, these heroic kids were able to step outside of the imposing and sanitized walls of their hospital existences. I had the privilege of being there and hearing those innocent voices, temporarily separated from their chemotherapy and impending surgeries, as they shouted to a world which often segregates itself from children they deem to be imperfect. On this Saturday morning, these lovely children declared, "I'm here! Right now, I'm still here!"
But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:13-14
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance. The recompense of God will come, but He will save you." Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah. Isaiah 35:3-6