PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) – For Jon Tyner, minister of music at Olive Baptist Church, worship and missions go hand in hand. That’s why Tyner and three friends took on the challenge of walking for 24 straight hours to raise money for missions.
On a Thursday in late October, the four began walking at 7 a.m., traveling from one end of Pensacola Beach to the other and then back to where they started by 7 a.m. the next day.
The group, made up of Tyner as well as Olive’s associate pastor and two choir members, walked 66 miles in total.
All of this was done to raise money for an evangelical organization called Next Level Worship, which seeks to train and resource Christians around the world in biblical worship. The money goes to fund missions projects the organization does throughout the year.
Each October, the organization hosts a Walk for Worship fundraiser, where participants from across the world walk miles to raise money. People can sign up to donate for each mile someone walks.
In total, Tyner and his group raised more than $8,000 for Next Level Worship during their one day of walking. He hopes this act of walking itself will serve as an act of worship.
“Worship is something we do with our mouths and with music, but it’s about our lips and our lives,” Tyner said.
“It’s about what we proclaim with our mouths about who God is, but also should come out in our actions and the way that we live every day. All of our actions should be acts of worship. If those two don’t line up then it’s not true worship.”
Tyner has been in music ministry for over 20 years, nine of which he’s spent at Olive Baptist.
He’s worked with Next Level Worship the last few years and has even traveled to Africa three times with the organization.
When it comes to the Walk for Worship fundraiser, Tyner decided to walk 50 miles to raise money in 2021, but wanted to take things to the next level this year.
Endurance challenges are a hobby of Tyner’s, who has completed events like long hikes, marathons and triathlons.
Tyner often does these events with these three friends, so when he proposed the 24-hour walking idea there was no hesitation.
Completing these types of events together has formed a deep friendship amongst the group.
“There is a bond that forms with anybody that you have a shared experience with that is out of the ordinary,” Tyner said.
“You will always have that thing you connected over. When you do these endurance events, you did a lot of mountaintops and valleys just like in life. When you walk with them and watch them overcome obstacles, it helps you get to know them and build respect for them.”
The group traveled with backpacks containing snacks and a lot of water. They only made brief stops to eat meals throughout the day.
“It was extremely tiring and one of the most difficult things was just being up for 24 hours,” Tyner said. “Your feet are killing you at the end of the day. It was pretty grueling to just keep moving, but you just have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
The four weren’t alone on their journey, as many fellow church members joined them during the day, including all of their spouses.
Others heard of the group’s endeavor, and joined in by walking several miles wherever they were around the world.
Many of these fellow walkers joined the group by Zoom chat for a few minutes each hour as they were walking.
Tyner said there were people from nearly 10 different countries that joined them while walking via Zoom, including India and Zambia.
All of this encouragement helped the group push forward, because they knew the adventure was serving an eternal purpose.
“I’ve met many people that have really been impacted by the ministry of Next Level Worship,” Tyner said. “It was important for me to raise money on their behalf, so NLW can continue to make a difference.
“I think missions and worship go hand in hand. We do missions so that God will be worshipped all over the world. I then think worship fuels missions in that we get closer to God’s heart and His heart is for the nations. One feeds the other to accomplish the Great Commission.”
Tyner hopes the group’s journey will encourage churches to be creative in funding Great Commission work.
“I hope it will inspire people to do whatever they do wholehearted unto the Lord. I think all of us have something that we can leverage for the Lord, and churches have the opportunity to creatively bring attention to what God is doing and how He is working.”
By Timothy Cockes, Baptist Press | December 9, 2022