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Perseverance and endurance through faith

Olympian Eloise Wellings took the stage to deliver an inspiring address to the crowd at UnitingWomen 2018, highlighting how her faith has helped her overcome adversity.

According to the distance runner, her eyes were set on becoming an Olympian from a young age.

“I was obsessed with the Olympics, I was obsessed with reaching the pinnacle of my sport,” said Eloise.

After initially being selected for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Eloise suffered an injury, what would be the first of many, putting her dream on hold.

It was at this time that she went to church with a friend and heard the Gospel as she had never heard it before.

“I heard about Jesus, I heard about a God who cares about the intricate details of our lives,” said Eloise.

“Someone whose love was so great that he sent his son to die for us and the rest of humanity so that we can be in relationship with him.

“All I had to do was accept and receive this loving grace; no more striving to be perfect, no more brownie point system to get into heaven.

“God was saying to me, ‘Eloise, because of me you are enough’.”

Life didn’t become easier once Eloise became a Christian; she had two more failed attempts at making the Olympics. After being selected for both the 2004 and 2008 games, she suffered stress fractures.

“It was at this point that I wanted to give up,” said Eloise.

“But then I get a second chance.

“I was invited over to Portland for a training camp to try and rehabilitate my foot in a last-ditch effort to make the Beijing Olympics in 2008.”

It was here that Eloise met Ugandan athlete Julius Achon.

“We became immediate friends, we have a similar sense of humour and our faith and passion for running,” said Eloise.

Eloise said Julius’ story, where he grew up in poverty in northern Uganda and was kidnapped and forced to become a child soldier, put her foot problem into perspective.

“I didn’t end up making it back in time to compete at the Beijing Olympics but I knew I was in Portland to meet Julius and become part of a much bigger dream,” said Eloise.

Eloise established Love Mercy in 2010 after visiting Julius in Uganda and feeling a burden and responsibility to empower communities to overcome poverty caused by the horrors of a 25-year civil war.

Love Mercy projects aim to increase access to education, health care and income generation which are funded entirely by generous donations from the public.

Eloise closed by recounting a moment when she supported a fellow athlete by waiting for her to finish during the recent Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“The response from the public was unexpected and so, so moving,” said Eloise.

“God not only wants us to endure but to help the people around us run the race and finish strong.

“In that moment I had a sense that my role was bigger than my own goal and dream, and in the face of our disappointment and struggle when we know who we are, we can step up to the bigger story of what God has.”

UnitingWomen is a national event for young women, older women and women in between to share their stories of wisdom and wonder. 

The 2018 conference is being hosted at Somerville House by the Queensland Synod. Stay tuned to Journey Online for ongoing coverage of the event which will run until 30 September.

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