For one Alexandria pastor, this year's Palm Sunday message will come after the alarm clock blares before 3 a.m., after he dusts off a pair of sneakers and after parishioners send praises from the sides of highways instead of pews. Mount Ararat C.M.E Pastor Kenneth Smith is gearing up for a walk like no other. Pastor Smith will tackle roughly 18 miles from Oxford to Alexandria, Alabama in a journey, he calls, "A Faith Walk for Cancer".
Pastor Smith's feat is part of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life. The fundraising program is designed to educate the masses about cancer research and also allow many to come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that has already taken too much. According to the ACS website, funds raised have truly made a difference in the fight against cancer and supporting patients and their families as they take on their own walk of fighting the deadly disease.
Raising funds for cancer research and aiding cancer patients is just one reason why Pastor Smith decided to undergo fitness training at the local YMCA, fast, pray and lace up his sneakers for a walk that he feels will make a difference. So far he's raised more than $4,000.00 and is still pressing toward a $10,000 goal.
When asked what else compelled him to tackle the Faith Walk he said,
"Early one Sunday morning after a two-mile jog, the Lord spoke to me as I walked in front of a hotel in Oxford, AL and told me that He wanted me to walk to the church (Mount Ararat CME, Alexandria, AL) as He walked. I was uncertain of the full meaning of the request, so I continued to listen then He led me to two passages of scripture (Matthew 4:23 &Luke 9:1-2)… it was clear to me that He wanted me to get up early one Sunday morning and walk the 18 miles from the hotel to the church and preach when I arrive," said Pastor Smith.
With that message in his heart and mind, Pastor Smith decided to take on the challenge; his focus also includes a message of healing.
"The healing comes when each of us make much needed charitable contribution ($10, $20, $50, $100 or more) to the American Cancer Society that will support their research efforts in finding cures for every form of cancer. Our donations will play a big role in saving the life of another," said Pastor Smith.
So on Sunday, March 24th, at 3 a.m., Pastor Smith will start a walk of faith and he will not do it alone.
Members and friends will also accompany him and walk different stretches of the route to support and encourage the C.M.E Pastor. Pastor Smith says the support for this challenge has been overwhelming. Many others have helped him by offering their services to prepare for the event. Even local police will help to monitor parts of the roadways, as members of the community set-up up water stations along the route.
After the walk, which is schedule to conclude around 8 a.m., a worship and church service will take place at the church.
This walk hits close to home for the Pastor, like many, he too has a personal connection with cancer and knows many who have walked the road toward fighting a cancer diagnosis. Pastor Smith is a cancer survivor. In 2005, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and his beloved mother is a colon cancer survivor.
Vivian Howard is a member of his congregation and is a cancer survivor. Howard has benefited from the American Cancer Society's outreach through events held at its Hope Lodge in Birmingham, Alabama.
So, when it comes to understanding what cancer patients and their families experience spiritually, physically, mentally and financially, Pastor Smith has this message for those affected.
"Prayer is powerful and any family that is going through needs that support from others. Volunteering is another way to show your support; organizations that provide assistance to those who experience cancer are always looking for people who are willing to help in any way they can.
Also, donating to the cause is a way that most can support.
Every dollar counts and every dollar is needed. The cancer experience can be a
monetary challenge and your assistance can help keep a sense of normalcy within
a cancer stricken household," said Pastor Smith.
For more information on A Faith Walk for Cancer, please visit the website address posted below.
American Cancer Society Relay For Life Pastor Kenneth Smith's Page
1732 Valley View Dr.
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