Spring Break Spent Walking a Highway for Speed the Light
Ask most college freshmen how they spent their spring breaks, and answers will vary from “on the beach” to “hanging out at home.” Some may have even spent their break on a missions trip of some sort. But for four Hot Springs, Arkansas, young people, their spring break was spent on a 113-mile journey from Hot Springs, Arkansas, to Texarkana, Texas, to raise funds for Speed the Light (STL).
Last year, Andrew Brown, now 20, as a member of First Assembly (now Legacy Church) in Hot Springs youth group, wanted to do something significant for Speed the Light, the Assemblies of God youth missions effort that provides essential transportation and creative communication equipment to missionaries. Brown decided to do a long-distance walk.
As he planned for the walk and began raising funds, he was asked to be the assistant youth pastor at the church — in addition to now attending National Park College. Brown says that due to the time commitments involved in attending college and Arkansas School of Ministry, teaching Sunday School, work, and other responsibilities, he was unable to do the longer training walks he had hoped to do.
“I’m not an athlete and never have been one,” Brown admits. “I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
Brown was joined by his college friend, Andrew Diehl, on the walk. Brown’s girlfriend, Destiny Clowers, 19, who also attends First Assembly, and her good friend, Sarah Reynolds, 18, were the support team for the effort.
For the most part, the weather cooperated for the walk — clear skies and no icy temperatures that can occur in March. In fact, the weather was unseasonably hot.
“The mornings started off in the 60s, but by the afternoon, the temperature would climb to the mid-80s,” Brown says. “You could just feel the heat coming up from the pavement through the bottoms of your shoes — and being on the highway, there wasn’t any shade.”
Brown says the first day was great as he and Diehl were excited about the effort. But the next several days, blisters and muscles not used to walking for 10 or so hours a day, made themselves known. In addition to sunburn and sore muscles, Brown says on the third day, something in his foot pulled and he was forced to limp, using an ankle brace and a knee brace to ease the pain. But on day five, the pains eased and they were able to finish the walk feeling relatively strong.
While the two Andrews walked, Clowers and Reynolds would drive ahead a few miles and await the pairs’ arrival to supply them with food and an assortment of beverages.
“It was an honor being a part of this just because the whole mission is something bigger than all of us,” Clowers says. “While the guys were walking, Sarah and I would pray for them, read our Bibles, and then just talk, too. We also learned to be thankful for what we have — I know I’ll not take having a car for granted anymore!”
Aside from the first night, the foursome spent the nights at Diehl’s grandparents’ home in Arkadelphia, about 35 miles south of Hot Springs, then headed out each morning to begin where they had left off the night before.
Leading up to the walk, the four shared what they were attempting to do with others and why they were going to do it. But what Brown found a bit surprising was the opportunities they had to share while they were on the road.
“We had several people pull over and ask us if we needed a ride,” Brown says. “We would tell them what we were doing and why we were doing it, and nearly every one of them then donated money towards the walk!”
Clowers says that motorists also stopped to see if they were okay as well, as they were parked on the side of the road. “We got to tell a lot of people what we were doing,” she says.
The best moment, Brown says, was the day they finally reached Texarkana and walked to the “Welcome to Texas” sign. “Once I crossed that invisible state line, I got on my knees, crying, praising God,” he says. “It was an emotional and life changing moment for me.”
So far, Brown says that they’ve raised more than $3,000 for STL, with more donations still expected to come in.
“Our Movement is privileged to have students who have a sense of personal responsibility for the mission of God,” states Heath Adamson, senior director for National Youth Ministries. “Andrew Brown is a great example of one of those students. He took what was available to him — his time, his spring break, his effort — and planted them in the soil of eternity. It is the sacrifice and generosity, much like Andrew displayed, that empower our missionaries to make Jesus known throughout the world.”