Yet Another Marathon for "Slumdog Professor"

Boaz Johnson

Boaz Johnson competes in Boston Marathon to raise money to fight human traffiking

BOSTON (April 24, 2009) – North Park University Professor Boaz Johnson says running the Boston Marathon on April 20 was an incredible thrill, but it was also a wonderful opportunity to help children.

“It’s quite an exhilarating experience,” he said. “To think of all the great runners who had been in that marathon and to be able to participate was wonderful.”

Johnson, who teaches biblical and theological studies, was one of two “Josiah Runners” who raised funds to help a New England church send kids to camp and help the Hindustani Covenant Church fight human trafficking in India. Heather Karlson, director of children and family ministries at Faith Evangelical Covenant Church in Wheaton, Ill., was the other team member.

A veteran of multiple marathons, Johnson was happy with his time of 4:30:08, and admits the 26.2-mile race was actually easier for him than some others. Karlson, who previously ran the marathon in Chicago, finished in 4:04:03.

The team name is inspired by a sermon Johnson preached at North Park. He shared what the life of biblical king Josiah can mean for people today. Josiah was only eight years old when God began using him to change a whole society. At age 18, he caused a revival to take place in the kingdom of Judah.

When Johnson was eight years old, he was living in the slums of New Dehli, watching as friends were forced into all kinds of slavery, much like in the recent Academy Award-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Johnson, who spoke at Monadnock Covenant Church in Keene, N.H., on Sunday, said he hopes the money will help raise up young leaders to lead revival and wipe out all forms of slavery. The Josiah Runners are still accepting donations, and the total amount of money raised has not yet been determined.

“I hope more and more people will give, but I know this is a hard year,” said Johnson.

Nevertheless, he remains unwavering in his personal commitment, even returning to Chicago to take part in a panel discussion at a large anti-trafficking symposium at Loyola University just two days after the marathon. The panel included James Garbarino, an internationally renowned child psychologist who addressed the psychological impact of poverty and the trauma of enslavement on children; and Katherine Kaufka, who has prosecuted several high profile trafficking cases and now directs the International Organization for Adolescents. Kevin Bales, who Johnson notes was the first to press the United Nations on human trafficking, was also a featured speaker.