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   Welcome. You're about to hop on the Appalachian Trail and become part of the 2009 thru-hike of Chris Hennig, whose trail name was "Feed Bag." While Feed Bag took in all the personal benefits of spending hours alone in the woods (getting in better shape, crying, pondering the meaning of life), there is a purpose greater than that for which he hiked: to make the world a better place for children. And you can be a part of this journey starting now...and help make a difference!

Start Date: 3/29/09 End Date: 9/5/09



There’s no crying in hiking!

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 1:27 pm June 10, 2009

(Disclaimer: This week’s blog will be a little different as it will have more to do with some of the spiritual aspects of me spending this much time in the woods. So if you primarily read the blog to learn about the Appalachian Trail and/or you don’t know me very well, I’ll make this blog an optional read.)

What follows is my recollection of events that brought me to tears the other day while hiking. Even as I begin to type I’m hesitant to go on. I don’t like to talk about crying. I’d rather laugh or tell you a joke. Since becoming an adult, I’ve only cried one other time that was unrelated to the death of a Grandparent. Yes, I’ve occasionally teared up during a World Vision video, a touching movie, or a moving song. But something about the fact/logic/man part of my brain would rather avoid uncontrollable sobbing. But that’s just it; all times mentioned above were not within my control. And all times were confirmation that God cares and is very near.

Blogfession
I’ll start with my journal entry the day before. I typically don’t journal long prayers to God like this in the woods, rather I use my journal for the scenery, mileage, and other events of the day. Mind you, I spent the weekend before at a conference sitting under top-notch, world-class teaching and relearning everything I ever knew about Jesus. However, as we drove away from the conference in Baltimore back to the trail I was brimming with anxiety. 1.) Would my leg be healed? and 2.) Is this hike/blog what I’m supposed to be doing?

So, starting with the basics, I was trying to evaluate where I stood with God. After this conference I felt like, yes, this is the Jesus I’ve always known. But, as my parents will attest of me from a young age, I have a very hard head and can be very stubborn. So in my spiritual journey, when I reach a paradox, rather than humbling myself and realizing we are not meant to know all the mysteries of God, I am the clay that questions the potter. I felt like I needed to talk to Jesus about God.

All of that led to my journal entry on 5/28:

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26,000 steps later, 26,000 reasons to sponsor a child

Filed under: Blog Posts — chrishennig @ 10:44 am June 3, 2009

Before you even read the following blog, thanks again for spending ANY TIME on my site. My dear friend and editor Allison edits my blogs to make them as short and concise as possible. (She probably would rather I not use both “short” and “concise” in this sentence, redundant or something.) But I realize they do take your valuable time to read, and for that I’m grateful.

I hoped after counting 26,000 steps to represent the preventable deaths of 26,000 kids on Monday, it would well up some emotion. I thought I’d have to type through tears while blogging about the experience. Ironically, the day started with the smell of death as I laced my shoes and noticed, of all things, a turtle had died and begun decomposing beside the road. But otherwise, it was a beautiful day with great vistas and people with which to talk. As it turns out, I average over 26,000 steps everyday on the trail; it’s about 12-13 miles. While hiking, I marked 260 hash marks on my hands, each representing 100 more steps taken; 100 more lives lost. It was still hard to connect emotionally, but what happened later that evening is what really inspired and taught me.

100 Airplanes Crash, Killing 26,000 People
In his book The Hole in Our Gospel, Rich Stearns (my boss!) asks us to imagine waking up to the headline: “100 Airplanes Crash, Killing 26,000 People.” With the recent French plane crash in the Atlantic, which killed almost 260 people, we understand the sadness and shock of a massive loss of life, even if we don’t know a soul onboard.

It’s unimaginable to think of that much death, numbing even. But the equivalent of 100 airplanes do crash every day, killing thousands of children, passengers on “poverty-hijacked airplanes.” And we have the means to save them. Imagine 100 airplanes around the world, full of children, sitting on the runway waiting to take off for the last time, piloted by the world’s diseases. Stand with your back to the cockpit door and look at the buckled-in faces staring back at you. There isn’t an empty seat. By the end of today, all 100 planes will take off and crash.

*21 planes full of children crash from birth complications
*19 planes of kids die of pneumonia 17 planes full of diarrheal diseases
*15 planes full of neonatal illnesses
*8 crash with malaria
*4 full of measles
*3 succumb to AIDS
*13 die of other injuries and complications

All of these children who die are under 5 years old; 40% of them haven’t even lived out their first month.

100 “poverty planes” will crash today. And those crashes will happen again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

I know many of you already sponsor a child, but not everyone. How can we get 2,200 kids sponsored? A quote I heard at the conference I attended is, “If you want to feel deeply, you must first think deeply.” It’s hitting me over the head everyday. I don’t want to fake or elicit shallow emotions. I want to continue to think deeply about what I know and what I can do. Can we, this small and unusual community of people interested in the trail and my attempted thru-hike, pull 2,200 kids out of the “Poverty Air” ticket line and buy them a ticket on “Hope Air”? Who can you ask to join our team and sponsor a child?

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