Between June 27 and July 2 Rehan Greeff completed three Iron Man-sized triathlons in three countries in six days to raise funds for starving children.
Pulling off the so-called 2022 #RunforAfrka Tri Challenge – in which he covered a distance of 683.5km – swimming 11.4km, cycling 545.4km and running 126.7km – took a lot of training and preparation, but there were times along the journey where it was clearly an “only God” moment.
This challenge was not the first crazy athletic endeavour for Rehan, a South African chartered accountant working in London. In fact, it is the sixth challenge that he has undertaken since 2017 when, while attending a church service in London, God healed a chronic knee injury that had forced him to give up running.
In a subsequent church service Rehan heard the testimony of Peter Pretorius, a pastor and co-founder of the humanitarian organisation, ForAfrika whose life was changed when he came across people facing starvation in Mozambique in 1984 and he dedicated his and his family’s life to assisting the people of Africa. Peter’s story inspired Rehan to turn his running into an activity to bless others.
Commenting on his latest athletic mercy mission, Rehan said: “That we managed to complete these with all the hurdles on the way is definitely through divine intervention.
“My challenge was birthed through prayer – we believed God for miracles and there were miracles!” he said.
Rehan’s passion for playing rugby was cut short through injuries resulting in five knee operations by the age of 16. At university he continued to do athletics despite debilitating pain requiring him to take anti-inflammatories daily.
Later he and his wife Liesl-Barbara felt God’s calling to go to the United Kingdom from South Africa and immediately got involved in the CRC church where he experienced a miracle while watching a broadcast sermon by Pastor Thabo Marais.
“Suddenly, Pastor Thabo stopped and said, ‘There is someone here who needs healing in his knees…’ I just shot up, put out my hands and claimed it as mine,” said Rehan.
“I can’t explain it, but I felt burning in my knees and just by grace, through faith said: ‘I am healed’ and since that day I started running.”
Later, after he was moved by Pastor Peter Pretorius’s testimony, he launched his Run Forest Run initiative to get others on board with his mission to run to bless others.
In recent years he has undertaken various challenges to raise funds for ForAfrika which works in six African countries providing relief and development programmes. Last year he ran 300km around Greater London in one go, raising and raised £50,000 (R1.02 million) together with the Run Forest Run team. He also broke a record in the process.
He said that it took a whole series of little miracles to achieve this year’s goal of completing triathlons in SA, Uganda and the UK within a week.
Some of these divine breakthroughs were:
- 10 days before the team set off, one of their destinations had to be changed due to Covid-19 regulations. Instead of Angola, they had to reroute to Uganda. The switch, including travel plans and paperwork, was done in record time – this included a visa application being approved last minute;
- Despite having PCR tests done well in advance and paying a hefty sum to get the results back speedily, Rehan’s right-hand man Livingstone Ntambi’s results did not arrive before they landed in South Africa. Fortuitously this did not cause any issues at the airport and he was able to pass through without needing to show his results.
- Covid struck again when they were informed at check in for their UK flight at the airport in Uganda that rules had changed, and they would need negative PCR tests to get on the plane for the last triathlon. They managed to negotiate an expedited test result at the airport with only minutes to spare;
- “Recovery between the events was definitely a miracle,” said Rehan, who usually takes a few days to get back to normal after endurance running events. He often cannot take in any solid foods, but this time was able to and he refuelled adequately for each challenge. His all-important electrolyte and hydration levels remained steady throughout. He had to do without muscle rubs and had to snatch sleep on airport benches, in cars or planes. There was not much time between each triathlon to relax, but somehow he managed to wake up each morning feeling like “a million bucks”;
- Rehan managed to avoid a serious knee injury after he slipped on a ladder step into Lake Mutanda in Uganda. “I was so lucky that my knee didn’t pop out sideways otherwise it would have been over”;
- The cycle in Uganda ended up being much more difficult than anticipated because of all the hills and on top of that Rehan had to borrow a bike that was not compatible with his cleated shoes. “About half way through I thought I was never going to make it, but I remembered my ‘why’ and continued to the end. When things aren’t going your way, you still get up because you have purpose”;
- “We were blessed – no major injuries or crashes, no infections or logistical breakdowns, no punctures even!”
But, perhaps the greatest indication of God’s hand over the venture was his friend picking up a £10 (R205) note near the finish line in London. A seemingly negligent detail in the big picture, but it amplified a message that his wife, Liesl-Barbara, received a few days earlier from Luke 19:40.
“My wife had received the word that ‘even the rocks would cry out’ a few days earlier during Bible study, so when Rikus picked up the money on the road, God was speaking to me directly.
“This year’s challenge was very different from all the others. We had to raise funds in other ways and through different sources than what we were used to. That ‘lucky’ find indicated to me that we should keep the faith – money and support would come from where we least expected it and hearts would be opened.
“Finally, God confirmed that He is the provider and that He uses unlikely sources. This time through a school friend of Lienke’s [Rehan’s eldest daughter, aged 8]. I still have the little container with £2 in coins out of her own pocket money. She wanted to give out of what she had to help others herself and that really touched my heart.”
“I keep the container by my bedside as a reminder that God is in control and that help will sometimes come from where we least expect it. He makes the impossible possible! Everybody, big and small, can make a difference with what God gives in their hand.”
For more information about Run Forest Run and to support Rehan’s fundraising goals, visit https://runforestrun.run/
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