Running Towards God

By Mark Janssen

RJ Robinson admits that his introduction to Christ came almost like the beginning of a joke: I was out running one day with a Catholic, two Lutherans and a Baptist ….

“It’s one of those stories where you keep waiting for the punchline,” quipped Robinson.

Turning serious, the now men’s and women’s cross country coach of Manhattan Christian College continued, “They had such passion in their discussions during those runs. They talked about God, sin and Christianity, and it eventually drove me to seek something higher than myself. I wanted to figure out a life with God and be a leader and teacher of the Word.”

As a freshman in high school in Beatrice, Neb., Robinson said he only did a lot of listening during those four- to five-mile runs for a couple reasons.

First, “I had nothing to add. I knew nothing about being a Christian. My family wasn’t even a part of the holiday church crowd.”

Secondly, “I wasn’t a very good runner and I was saving all my breaths just to keep up with them.”

In reality, Robinson would eventually run in four straight Class B State Championship meets, which included one individual title later in his career.

Running first for the “peacefulness” of the journeys over trails of hills and valleys, Robinson said that “time for reflection” led to a more peaceful life through God.

To Robinson, his goals include stressing to the team “a sense of accomplishment’ and “seeing how far you can take yourself as an athlete.” The times, he hopes, will take care of themselves.

MCC’s cross country team numbers only two, and both are freshmen -- Philip Martinez and Katrina Waters.

“My wife (Julie) and I met with them at the beginning of the year to try to stress how we want them to be the best Christian-athletes that they can be,” said Robinson. “We want to help them become Christian leaders. We have only two runners, but we want to be a family and pull for one another.

“We talk about encouraging each other physically and mentally,” said Robinson. “We want their MCC experience to be awesome spiritually and athletically.”

Both Martinez and Waters face a dual challenge as MCC freshmen. That starts with a continued growth in God – Martinez in Youth Ministry and Waters more in the area of music and the arts – plus expanding their knowledge, and pain threshold, of running long distances.

A native Kansan, Waters ran on her Macksville High School team so is used to the 5K distance. On the other hand, Martinez, who will also play baseball for the Thunder, was more of a miler in the Arizona prep ranks and hasn’t run a cross country race since his 8th grade year. Now, he’s eye-to-eye with an 8K distance.

The twosome is currently putting in 20 to 25 training miles per week, with Robinson hoping to extend that mileage to 35-40 miles by mid-season.

“Katrina has an unbelievable work ethic, and Philip is also working extremely hard, but is ust learning how to run long distances,” said Robinson.

This weekend MCC’s runners will take part in the Tabor College Invitational.

Robinson’s running days continued out of high school at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, which was followed by earning Master’s in Christian Arts from Truett Seminary, which is associated with Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

It was also in nearby Woodway, Texas, that he, and Julie, served as mentors for the First Baptist Church.

After joining the MCC family as an Admissions Counsellor and serving as Director of Kenoyer Residence Hall for women, today Julie is a region American Baptist Church minister, which includes filling pulpits as a guest minister in any one of 215 total churches in Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

While attending the First Baptist Church in Manhattan, Robinson says, “I don’t necessarily see myself as a Baptist, but I’m a Christian. I’m trying to teach as many individuals that I can about Christ.”





Phillip Martinez, Fr, Phoenix, Arizona


Katrina Waters, Fr, Macksville, Kansas



Sept 9              at Sterling College

Sept 23            at Tabor College

Oct. 7              at Bethel College

Oct 21             at NAIA Mid-States Classic at Southwestern College

Oct. 28            at Last Chance Meet at Ozark Christian College

MCC Scoreboard

1/18/2020 | Mens Basketball vs. No. 8 Central Christian College of the Bible | W, 99-84 
1/18/2020 | Womens Basketball vs. Central Christian College of the Bible | W, 71-68 
1/14/2020 | Mens Basketball at No. RV Calvary University | W, 89-81 
1/14/2020 | Womens Basketball at Calvary University | L, 84-50 
1/9/2020 | Womens Basketball at Southwestern Adventist | W, 61-47