To be valiant is to be bold, to be courageous, to hold fast to the commitments in the face of adversity, to face your fear and wrestle with it and still deal with it anyway. God always sees what you could be. He sees what he's designed you to be. Paul said that at the end of his life. I've finished my course. I've run my race and a crown is laid up for me.
John Stephen Akhwari represented Tanzania at the Mexico Olympics and what he didn't realise was of course that the altitude would affect him so greatly. In fact because of the altitude of Mexico City so many of the athletes were affected that out of I think - how many started? I think there were 75 started, only 57 finished. The others dropped out of the race because of the high altitude and they did not have the stamina to see their way through about the 19 kilometres out of the 42 kilometres. About the 19 kilometre mark there was a lot of jostling for position and he got jostled and fell.
When he fell over he badly damaged his knee, he dislocated his knee and also damaged his shoulder and yet he got up and he ran. Many times on the remainder of the journey people tried to get him to stop and he just refused to quit. This is a man who finished the race. You could see there it was dark when he finished. All the others had finished. The earliest one was there over an hour, the awards had already been given out. The majority of people in the grandstand had gone and about an hour after the first had come in and been acknowledged and got their award there was a sound of sirens and there was the flashing lights of police bikes and cars and everyone stood up to see what was happening and this man, John Steven Aquari came in and he was the last to finish that day, in spite of all the pain, in spite of all the difficulty, in spite of the damage to his knee, the damage to his leg, the damage to his arm he finished the race.
I think the words that he said are absolutely the words of a valiant man; My country did not send me five thousand miles to start a race. They sent me five thousand miles to finish a race. It's just extraordinary courage and inner strength. That's a valiant man. He's valiant not because he went to the Olympics and he did great in the race. He went to the Olympics and he held on when there was every reason to give up. I think this is a sign of a valiant man. You know at any point he could have been persuaded to give up. There was every reason to give up. He had an injured leg, dislocated leg, he was hurt. He had every reason to give up. If he'd given up no one would have said anything against him, but he persevered, he refused to give up because he had a sense of purpose. His life had been leading up to this challenge and he had a great sense of purpose in his life. He refused to quit.
He remained loyal to the trust his country had put in him. He was the representative of the country - wasn't just coming as an individual. He was coming on behalf of the country so he's representing a country and he held in his heart a deep sense that I need to remain loyal and finish what I've started. I think that's a sign of a valiant man, a great and a valiant man. He persevered and fulfilled his commitment and I think just in seeing that you can see what a valiant man would look like. It's someone who has a purpose in their life. It's someone who understands that they're called by God to represent heaven in the earth, a person who understands that my life is here to make a mark, a person who doesn't swerve aside and give up when there's reason to do so, a person who doesn't quit when it's difficult or it's hard or they've been injured and hurt or set back in some kind of way, a person who determines I'm going to remain loyal to what God has called me to do and I will finish my race.
Paul said that at the end of his life. I've finished my course. I've run my race and a crown is laid up for me. There's another example of a valiant man and I believe that this man is a tremendous example of a valiant man. I looked up what happened to him after this. When he went back to his own nation he was awarded Hero of the Nation medal not because of his achievement on the track but because of his courage and stamina, his inner spirit, the character that caused him to refuse to quit when he had every reason to do so. The second thing I found out about him was a foundation was named after him to honour him and that foundation funds and helps the training of all athletes who are preparing for the Olympic Games in his nation. I also found out about him that when they ran the Olympics the following year he became the torch bearer that ran through the nation carrying the light. He symbolised what it's like to be a valiant man and a few years ago someone wrote a song and it was when the Olympics were held in China.