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Pastor Runs 62 Consecutive Marathons To Raise Awareness for Adoption, Foster Care, Youth Mental Health, Breaking Guinness World Record

Photo courtesy of Malachi O'Brien

Malachi O’Brien, pastor of The Church at Pleasant Ridge in Missouri, is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for consecutive days to run a marathon distance. His goal is to bring awareness to youth mental health and adoption and foster care.

For the last 62 days, O’Brien has been running 26.2 miles a day and said on Wednesday that “Lord willing, I will break that record tomorrow” (Thursday, Dec. 8).

Currently, the Guinness World Record holder is Vishak Krishnaswamy from Dombivli, India. He only recently broke the record on September 1. Krishnaswamy said that he decided to break the record in order to challenge “the considered normal living style.”

O’Brien shared with ChurchLeaders that youth mental health and foster and adoption care are two causes that are personal to his family. He was adopted when he was three years old, and his family recently adopted through the foster care system.

Further, roughly a year ago, O’Brien’s oldest daughter attempted to take her own life after battling mental health issues. O’Brien shared that the incident woke him and his wife up to “the crisis” of youth mental health.

RELATED: Five Facts About America’s Broken Mental Health-Care System

“As a pastor, and even as a father, my inability to truly see it for what it was and to truly know what was needed in that moment is what woke me up—I really think it’s an epidemic and a crisis—so I’m wanting to raise awareness around that,” O’Brien said. He and his wife are planning to launch initiatives in 2023 that will focus on helping others with mental health.

Ever since being adopted, O’Brien knew he wanted to do the same. In the process of adopting through the foster system, O’Brien’s eyes were opened to the crisis that currently exists.

“It’s understaffed and kids are falling through the cracks,” O’Brien said. “I truly believe the church can end the foster care crisis in our nation. If every church had somebody…adopt one child that’s in the foster system that has no hope of reunification with their families, then I believe the church could tangibly stall that crisis.”

O’Brien’s incredible feat has encouraged other Christians and has given O’Brien opportunities to share the gospel.

RELATED: Major Decline in Adoptions Accompanies COVID-19 Pandemic

“You know,” he said, “if you’re a runner and you look behind you, you have a chance of hurting yourself and destroying your future because you might not see what’s ahead of you. And I think people have to stop focusing on the past and really stop focusing on what’s ahead, but live in the now. Even Jesus said, ‘Take no thought for tomorrow’ (Matt. 6:34). Why are Christians so worried and anxious about tomorrow when tomorrow may not come? But if we live with intentionality…we can have the most deeply fulfilling and impactful life that revolves around Jesus.”