Friends, family and members of his congregation cheered on Pastor Paul Jenkins of The Gathering Church in Albemarle today as he finished running 50 miles. He decided that would be the best way to celebrate his 50th birthday.
“He's not running his age today he's running well below his age,” said Justin Thompson.
The run isn’t just for exercise. He’s doing it to fulfill his birthday wish, to save 50 women from human trafficking.
While on a mission trip to India with his wife, Jenkins saw girls young as ten years old be forced into sex slavery.
“Really just broke your heart, knowing they had no choice in that,” said Paul.
“We came home from that trip and I just began to educate myself,” said Paul’s wife Wendy.
The two found several charities that save women from trafficking. So rather than ask for gifts for his birthday, Paul wanted to give the gift of freedom to these victims.
“It's just such a huge, huge injustice I think a lot of the world just doesn't even know about this happening here in our counties it's happening all over the world,” said Chaney Poston.
Many people from his congregation and community joined Paul as early as 5 a.m. as he started his 50-mile journey.
“I'm super proud of Paul it's awesome it's been cool to watch in training and keep up with his 50 for 50 run,” said Thompson.
“One person can't do this. It takes a team of people,” said Wendy.
“Really it's humbling to watch the passion turn into a movement like that,” said Paul.
Jenkins’ goal was to raise $50,000, something that kept him going with each mile. While he only raised about half of that so far, he’s making great strides towards his goal. If you want to help achieve that goal, he’s taking donations for the next 30 days. You can visit his website, here.