Running on Faith
Dr. Moses Christian doesn’t let cancer get in the way of his passion for good health.
Moses Christian, an 82-year-old practicing physician from Loma Linda, California, personifies the label “go-getter.” The dedicated runner has completed 237 full marathons in the past 21 years. Beginning his running “career” at an age when many of his peers embraced lifestyles at a much slower pace, Christian began training for a marathon in 1993 at the age of 61. He completed his first 26.2 miler at age 62.
Cousin and fellow physician Devadas Moses challenged him to do a marathon. “‘Why don’t you do it?’ he said. And I said, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ But I was curious. How do human beings do 26 miles? And I thought, They are human beings, I’m a human being; if they can do it, I can do it. So it was a sort of challenge to myself, and that made me start the first one.”
Christian registered for the Los Angeles Marathon in March 1994, but before that, he decided to ease into marathoning through a slightly smaller event—the San Diego Marathon in January of that year. “Once I completed it, it was so uplifting,” he says. “When you run, it’s hard, but with the sense of accomplishment, it pushes you to do more.”
In 1999 Christian embarked on an even bigger feat—completing one marathon a month for the next 14 years. He has run races all over America, as well as events in Nepal, Dubai, Canada, and Africa—at Mount Kilimanjaro, which he climbed in 1997. He has run the famed Boston event as well, and was present during the bombing last year, rounding out mile 20 before being told to stop the official race. He did, however, use his personal GPS device to map out 6.2 miles off course, just to complete the goal.
The Health Challenge
Not long after Christian’s initial marathon runs in 1994 came a prostate cancer diagnosis, which was deemed inoperable. Initially he was given a life expectancy of two to three years. Determined to go forward on his own terms, Christian refused to give up running. Instead of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, he adopted a macrobiotic diet and worked within a wholistic approach from the Livingston-Wheeler Clinic in San Diego, which had great success treating prostate cancer. Similar to NEWSTART, Christian dialed up his efforts with lifestyle modifications such as diet, positive thinking, and reliance on God—and yes, he never stopped running or practicing medicine. That’s right. While in treatment, Christian continued to work.
“I started with a whole-grain, mostly vegan diet. I sometimes take a little fish or eggs. Then there were high doses of vitamin C infusion and hormone and vaccine treatments. None of them are toxic to the body. All this combined with a positive attitude boosts the immune system, and I continued my running. From the time I was diagnosed—for 19 years—I carried on a full schedule, even with active night calls,” he says.
“The more exercise, the better the health,” Christian adds. “I’m one of those who runs a lot, and the fact that I’m still alive after 19, nearly 20, years of having cancer with no modern treatment speaks for itself. The natural treatment boosts your immune system, and our bodies are much stronger than we think.”
Doctors caring for him have been amazed by his tenacity—and his results. “Twenty years ago I had a stress test done,” Christian remembers. “The cardiologist looked at me and said, ‘You have a problem, and we need to do further tests on it.’ So I didn’t do anything but become a runner.” At his next checkup his results were vastly different. “It was then I realized, ‘Hey, with my exercise and cancer my whole body has become better.’ ”
The Spiritual Perspective
There are many who believe that running, perhaps exercise in general, can be as much a spiritual pursuit as a physical one. That has certainly been Christian’s experience. He loves this quote from The Ministry of Healing: “The morning hours,” he says, “ ‘when every voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God.’ ”* This time of exercise in the quiet hours at the start of the day is a time Christian believes God speaks. “It is a good time for repeating memory verses, meditating, and feeling God’s presence with the fresh air, out in nature listening to the birds. That’s therapy in itself, which has been recommended by psychologists for people seeking a stress-free life,” he says. “When your physical health is good, your mind is in good health too.”
Additionally, and arguably most important, “proper Sabbathkeeping,” he adds, “has helped me rest from all my labors and helped me recover physically and spiritually. This has certainly contributed to my good health and long life.”
Even after a difficult period with his cancer battle last December, Christian’s healthful habits have not wavered. Opting to walk in lieu of running during the past few months, he still clocks in the miles while keeping up his nutrition plan and steadfast reliance on God. Moving forward, he also has no plans to slow down.
“I’m a great believer in natural remedies,” he shares. “And I’m a great believer in the books The Ministry of Healing and The Desire of Ages. [I want to be] like Christ, and Christ was in good health, because Jesus Himself increased in wisdom and in favor with God and man (see Luke 2:52).
“And as a doctor, it’s just good for me to be a good example.”
* Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 58.