Tom Shoes Testimony

Can we take the principals of today’s business world and use them to share Christ more effectively?  I say yes!

Hey everyone, Mitchell Hollis here with Run for God.

I was recently watching a business seminar when the speaker was giving one of the secrets to success for today’s businesses.  He was telling the story of Tom Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie.  If you’ve never heard of Tom Shoes, they are a shoe company who gives away a pair of shoes to someone in need each time a pair is sold.

The speaker was telling about the early years of Tom Shoes when Mr. Mycoskie was trying to get the company off the ground in a highly competitive market.  He told the story of one particular trip when Mr. Mycoskie traveled to New York City to try and persuade buyers to give his product a try. The trip did not go well and as he was in the airport waiting to board his plane to head back to LA he noticed something.  He noticed a lady wearing a pair of Tom Shoes.  Now keep in mind, at this point in the history of the company, it was uncommon to see people wearing those shoes.

Blake Mycoskie just couldn’t help himself as he approached the lady and said, “Nice Shoes”.  What unfolded over the next few minutes radically changed Mr. Mycoskie’s outlook on his very young company.  The lady began to tell the story of Tom Shoes unknowingly to the man who lived it.  She began to tell him how the founder was traveling the world and became burdened about all the people who don’t have shoes.  She explained that each time Tom’s sold a pair of shoes, the company donates a pair of shoes.  This lady was so excited about the story and mission of Tom Shoes it almost made the founder himself want to go out and buy a pair.

As Blake Mycoskie boarded the plane back to LA he had an “AaHa” moment that radically changed the future of Tom Shoes.  You see, Blake saw first hand that people want to understand who you are before they care about what you have.  This lady in the airport didn’t go on and on about the quality of the shoes, which I’m sure they are high quality, but she did go on and on about the story of the person selling them.

So why do I tell this story? In full disclosure, I really don’t know anything about Tom Shoes other than this story.  I don’t know anything about Blake Mycoskie other than this story. But I do know that he stumbled onto a mistake he was making that we often make when sharing the Gospel.  Mr. Mycoskie was traveling the country trying to sell something in a highly competitive market while completely neglecting the story behind it.

Our testimony is our story. Tom Shoes didn’t become a 300 million dollar company because they simply sold shoes.  They became a successful company because of the story, “The Testimony” of the company and how they were changing lives.

We live in a society that is selling lots of things.  Different religions, different lifestyles, and different preferences.  If you are a child of God, then you have the best product ever offered (Salvation), and best of all, it’s given freely.  But too many times people are unwilling to accept it because they don’t see the value in it.  Now, as a child of God I understand the value.  I understand it because of what God’s Word says and because of how it has impacted my life.  I know that since accepting this gift that my life has much more meaning and satisfaction. I know that God clearly speaks to me and that I have an eternal home that is far greater than what I have hear on earth.

The question is, do I make the mistake that many business have made.  Do I try to sell the product without sharing the story?  Do I tell people they need Jesus without first telling them what He’s done in my life?  Too many times we get this process backwards.

Now before anyone gets upset, I DO understand that God can change a person’s heart without hearing our story.  I also understand that some may take issue with comparing sharing the Gospel with a business transaction.  That’s not my intent.  My message here is simple.  Don’t neglect your testimony.  It is by far the most powerful tool that we have in sharing the Gospel of Christ. Formulate yours, write it down, and be prepared to share it.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  Always be prepared to tell your story.

If you’d like to know more about how to have true peace with God, if you’d like to learn how to accept the greatest gift ever, free of charge, then visit www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod.

Friends, I love you, but more importantly God Loves You.  Now, go tell someone about Jesus, and what he’s done in your life, today!

Cancer Saved His Life

Below is the eulogy that I delivered at my father’s funeral last October.  I have been back and forth as to weather or not to share this with the general public.  It’s a very personal story to me because it’s basically my father’s testimony written through my eyes.  His life was full of pain and heartache, but in the end, he got it all right.

Tonight, I met a young man who needs to hear my dad’s story.  He is living the very same life I was 25 years ago.  God reminded me that while our testimonies are very personal, they are not meant to be private. God often uses testimonies to bring others to the foot of the cross.

I truly hope this will help someone out there.  It’s a story of redemption and the truth that I will see my dad again one day.

Mitchell

My father with his 5 grandchildren.

Cancer Saved His Life

You may be asking yourself, “Did he read that title right?”  I assure you that I did.  As I sit here writing this I’m able to glance over and see my father sleeping peacefully in what I’m sure are his last days.  I’m sure cancer is going to take his life, but there’s one other thing that I’m also sure of.  It absolutely saved his life.  

Billy Graham once made this statement a few years prior to his death, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it.  I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Friends, the same is true for my father. Yesterday’s obituary said that Danny Bruce Hollis died, but that’s not true.  He is also more alive now that he’s ever been because he is also in the presence of God.

Jerome (my brother) and I grew up in a very disruptive home.  The man lying here today is not the man we grew up with.  The Bruce Hollis before 2011 was a raging alcoholic.  I remember spending my teenage years driving from bar to bar looking for my dad in the middle of the night only to turn violent and cause a scene once I found him.  I was angry with my father and I only became more and more bitter each time he didn’t keep his word to stop drinking.

Each promise only lead to another disappointment, and each year only widened the chasm that had formed between he and I.  By 2010 our relationship was nonexistent as I had not seen nor heard from him in a several years.

In 2011 a friend of mine asked me to go to lunch with him to discuss a fundraiser that he was working on. Greg Ellis was a recovering addict who was looking to give something back to The Carter Hope Center, which is the organization that helped him get clean and get his life back in order. Over lunch, Greg began to tell about this crazy idea he had about running 100 miles on a treadmill while others would pay to come run along side him all through the night.  He had reached out to me to see if we could get the support of local Run for God members.  I agreed to help and just as we were leaving Greg made the statement, “You should just join me for the run.”

Now I love running, but a hundred miles on a treadmill was not my idea of fun nor did I think I could even do it.  It’s funny how your words often come back to bite you.  I no more got home and walked into my office and three words were staring me in the face.  You see I’m famous for making the statement “YES YOU CAN” to anyone who says they can’t complete the Run for God course.  I believe it so much that it’s printed on the back of our books, and for whatever reason, one of our books was laying upside down that night on my desk. Needless to say, I called Greg the next morning to tell to let him know I’d be joining him.

Over the coming months I ran more than I had ever run.  100-mile weeks became common.  I got a chance to meet Chuck and Kara Smith who founded the Carter Hope Center, and got to know many of the people who worked there.  The Carter Hope Center has a proven track record of success.  Chuck who is a recovering addict himself has done a great job with the vision that God has given him which is why they usually have a waiting list of people who want to get in.

Many times God is working and we don’t even know it until we have a chance to look back.  The fundraiser went great, my run ended at mile 50 due to an injury, but we raised a lot of money for The Carter Hope Center that night.  What I didn’t know was that God had already put a plan into motion.  Within weeks of that fundraiser and getting to know Chuck and Kara, I found myself calling in a favor.

I’ll never forget driving down Highway 41 through Rocky Face when my phone rang.  It was an unknown number, which I don’t normally answer, but for some reason this time I did.  The voice was one that I had not heard in years.  It was a voice that I had blotted out of my life because I didn’t want my kids to see his destructive lifestyle.  It was the voice of my Dad.  His message was simple.  I need help. I’d heard these words before, but this time it was different.  Many people have told us through the years that often times addicts and alcoholics have to hit rock bottom before they make a change.

Dad began to share that he had been admitted to a local detox facility after being found almost dead in a hotel room.  They were about to release him and he had nowhere to go.  My father who was once a wealthy builder and developer who had it all was now washed up and homeless.  I’ll never forget walking into that clinic and seeing my dad after several years of not seeing him.  I almost didn’t recognize him.  His once lean toned body was now skin and bones, a testament to what addiction can do to ANYONE.  He was ashamed of what he had become, and all I knew to do was hug him.

Before arriving to pick him up I was on the phone calling in that favor.  I called Chuck and asked, “I know you have a waiting list, but can you take my dad?”  I thank God that he told me to bring him on over.  Within minutes of picking my dad up we were at The Carter Hope Center getting him settled in to his new home.  It was a modest twin bed in a room with four other men who found themselves in the same situations.

The weeks that followed were nothing short of amazing.  Dad began to flourish.  He became active in the program and it was obvious that this time his promise was for good.

I remember Dad calling Jerome and I one day saying that he was having some bad abdominal paid and that he needed to go to the hospital.  Within just hours of him arriving to the hospital, he was being prepped for emergency surgery.  Dad had a major bowel obstruction that was most certainly cancer.  I’ll never forget him laying on the hospital bed as they were about to wheel him into surgery.  The look on his face will forever be seared into my mind.  He was terrified, and God clearly revealed to me why. I asked the nurses and doctors to simply stop and leave the room.

For the first time in my life I asked my father if he knew where he was headed should he not survive that surgery.  He said no, and on that day in September of 2012 I had the honor of leading my father into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

That day our father forever changed.  He made it through that surgery.  Yes he had one of the deadliest cancers you can have, but he also had a brand new life. Our dad became the father he had never been.  Our dad became the Paw Paw his grandkids had never known.  Our dad became wealthier than he’d ever been because he’d learned to love the people in his life rather than the possessions of it.  After leaving the Carter Hope Center he lived in a simple one-bedroom apartment with a fridge that was no longer stocked with beer but rather Yahoo’s.  Some of the highlights of his weeks were riding around to jobsites making sure that Jerome and I were doing our jobs right and having the candy jar stocked for when I’d bring my boys by before church on Wednesday’s.  He even let Brett pull a utility trailer across state lines on I75 on his 16thBirthday.  His reasoning?  He’s gotta learn sometime.  He became a man that we can all learn something from today.

The most important thing that our Dad became was a shining example that God is real and that God was real in his life.  You see just last week my dad was facing another surgery that the doctors said he may not walk out of.  Dad knew this, but he also knew a lot more than he did six years ago.  You see, this time when I asked him if he knew where he’d spend eternity should he not walk out of that surgery, his answer was instant and firm.  He assured me that he would spend eternity in heaven and that he wasn’t afraid of dying. He was at peace!

It took a crisis to bring our dad to the foot of the cross.  It took a crisis to make my dad understand that there’s more to this life than a bottle, a drug, an addiction, or a habit.  There’s more to this life than what we have, what we build, or what we buy.  The most cherished things in life are free.  Our family, our kids, our relationships, our friends, our testimony, and our legacy.

In the end, the man lying here before you today got it right.  He loved his family, he loved the Lord, and he loved all of you who are here today. And for that reason, he left this earth a very wealthy man.

So what about you?  If you died today, will you spend eternity with my dad?  Will you spend eternity with Jesus Christ?  Where is your treasure?  Is it in things that don’t matter, things that can be stolen or forgotten?  Or is your treasure in the simple things of life? Faith, Family, and Friends?

These are tough questions, but the answers have eternal consequences.  If there is any doubt about your answers to these questions, please see me after the service.  I’d love to talk with you.

Yes I’m sad because my kids and I will never raid my dads candy jar again, but I do know where he is, and I know that I’ll be with him again someday.  The only question is, “Will you be joining us?”

On behalf of our family, we love you all, thank you for being here!

Mitchell

Do you have GRIT?

Hello everyone, Mitchell Hollis here with Run for God.

I recently read a quote from Angela Duckworth who completed a study at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research indicated that “Grit” is the number-one indicator of success.  It’s not talent, title, wealth, or good looks.  It’s “Grit”, the ability to work hard for long periods of time toward a goal; to persevere, to overcome, and to keep moving forward in the face of adversity, failure, rejection, and obstacles.

As many of you know, I coach a team of young triathletes, and this has been a topic of discussion within our coaching team for years.  We understand this principal.  I have had the opportunity to watch and observe young triathletes for more than 10 years now, and I can tell you that there are athletes with grit, and there are athletes without grit.  Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two, until it’s time for the sport to become their own.

So what do I mean?

I don’t believe kids get burned out in a sport.  Now, I understand that can be a very explosive statement because we hear it so much, but hear me out.  I believe kids finally come to a point of honesty about their level of grit for the sport.  It’s either there, or it’s not.  I’ve seen many talented athletes leave the sport because of a lack of grit.  I’ve also seen many not so talented athletes excel in the sport because of an abundance of grit.  Now, let’s not confuse grit with motivation.  Grit is the spark, while motivation is the fuel.

This past weekend my son Lane had to leave at 7:15 Saturday morning to catch a plane with his buddy Easton to Tucson, AZ where they spent the next 4 days biking some of the most beautiful places in the country.  Friday afternoon I asked Lane if he had thought about his long run that was scheduled for Saturday.  He was leaving at 7:15AM and traveling all day.  When I suggested a 5:00AM start, the motivation was not immediately there. I could see it in his eyes.  He just wanted to sleep.  But there is one thing I’ve learned about many of these athletes.  They’ve got grit for the sport.  Lane got his run in at 5:00 that morning, and Easton got his in late that evening, while everyone else was resting from the days travels.  They’ve got grit in the sport of triathlon.

So how does this relate to our walk with Christ?

I believe that our churches today are filled with motivated people.  They love to hear a good sermon, they love joining forces with friends to help others, and they love telling others where they attend church.  But they have no grit.  And, because they have no grit, they are leaving the church at an alarming rate.  They got “burned out.”  I’ve heard that before.  “Well, I just got burned out with all that church stuff and quit going.”  Statistics show that 75% of young people will leave the church upon leaving the home.

Why?

I believe it’s because they have no grit.  Now I know you’re asking yourself, “Mitchell, what does grit have to do with our spiritual lives?”  In our spiritual lives “grit” is Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the constant when motivation is gone. Let me say that again.  Jesus is the constant when motivation is gone.

Let me be very clear. Living a life that appears Christian is hard.  Trust me. This ministry known as Run for God is not easy.  The devil is on constant high alert.  People whisper when they see our shirts, old friends distance themselves, opportunities often pass by because we’re “faith based”.  Living a life that appears Christian is hard.

Why do I make that statement?  Living a life that “APPEARS” Christian is hard.

There are things in a sport that motivate an athlete.  Success, Coaches, Dreams, Goals, and even Parents.  But what keeps an athlete going in the absence of all that?  What keeps an athlete going when injury ends their season? What keeps an athlete going when defeat happens?  What keeps an athlete going when their schedule gets too overwhelming?

It’s Grit.  Plain and simple, it’s GRIT.

Run for God enjoys many motivations.  Letters and stories of lives being changed all over the world.  From China to a Federal Prison in Butner, NC.  We get notifications each time someone makes a decision to follow Christ as a result of our Gospel campaigns.  We receive monthly support from people all over the country and many people in this room.  This is confirmation that we are on the right path and motivation to keep going.

But too many times those motivations seem to pass in the blink of an eye and are quickly replaced by doubt.  A negative email comes in.  An off color comment is aimed our way.  Financials aren’t where we hoped they’d be.  Let’s take this to a personal level.  A family member gets sick, a child goes astray, a test result comes back and it’s not good, word comes that you’re losing your job.

These are the times where grit carries you.  These are the times when Jesus takes you by the hand and leads you through.  Just like a season ending injury coupled with grit in your sport will often lead to a better and stronger athlete.  So it is when we reach obstacles and valleys in our life.  With Jesus, we are better and wiser for them.  He doesn’t take them away, he leads us through them.  Without Jesus, we are defeated, washed up, burned out, and leaving the church.

Are you living the Christian life?  Or, are you living the appearance of a Christian life?

God has clearly been directing me over the past few years to challenge those around me with a simple question.

Do you know that you know where you’ll be spending eternity?

Do you ever find yourself defeated, burned out, and questioning what this life is all about?

Young people, are you cruising through life on your parents salvation?  Or is it yours?

These are tough questions. They’re not easy to ask, and if you’re living the “appearance” of a Christian life, then they’re not easy to hear.

I challenge you to ponder the idea of Jesus in your life.  Not church, not the words you use, or the image you portray, but Jesus.  Is He REAL in your life?

If you would like to learn more about how to have Peace with Jesus Christ then please visit www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGodright now.

Friends, I love you, but more importantly God loves you!  Now go tell someone about Jesus today.

Mitchell