FOUND RUNNING ALONGSIDE OLYMPIANS
My name is Eloise Wellings. I live in Sydney and am married to a great guy, and together we have a three year old daughter, named India. I love to run and eat Messina gelato ice cream. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to compete in the Olympics. It was all I dreamt of – in fact, I was obsessed with the idea.
But my dream didn’t come easily. I qualified for the Sydney Olympics at age 16, but suffered a stress fracture before the games and couldn’t compete. The same thing happened when trying for Athens in 2004, and again Beijing in 2008. At that point I wanted to quit. It was the first time in my life that I hated running. I was discouraged and questioned whether the Olympics was really a dream that God had put on my heart, but as always, He turned the situation around for good.
After missing my third Olympics, I met a man named Julius at a running camp and heard his story. He was born into poverty in Northern Uganda, captured at age 12 by the LRA terror group and forced to be a child soldier. After 3 months he escaped and made it safely home to his family. He taught himself how to run and he ended up competing at two Olympic games as the civil war in his homeland continued to rage.
When I met Julius, he was supporting eleven orphans that he had found living underneath a bus in Northern Uganda. Julius had a vision to help rebuild the region he had grown up in, and I felt God was asking me to do the same. So we started a charity working with the people of rural Uganda called Love Mercy. Most of the women we began working with had just returned to their homes after spending the best part of 10 years in the IDP (internally displaced people) camps with their families.
People were desperate, however we felt from the beginning to help them to create a sustainable future for themselves. We did this through the simple supply of seeds and tangible encouragement. These women taught me strength, resilience and joy despite their difficult circumstances and I’m so proud of these women that we’ve been able to stand alongside.
And yes, I finally achieved my Olympic dream by qualifying and competing in both the London and Rio Olympics, and I am believing to attend my third in Tokyo in 2020. I feel like I’m on a mission to use every step that I take in running to bring glory to God and shed light on what He is doing in Uganda.
I feel these were the years of being refined in my faith, which was tested over and over again, but God is faithful to turn it all around if we remain persistent. Even when we feel like we can’t see how it will work out, or when we feel like life is at its darkest – He has a grand plan that is greater than we ever hoped or imagined.