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San Antonio, TX

March 15, 2018 | Mikayla Heldt

John Van Pay

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) alumnus John Van Pay recently released his new book, “ Marathon Faith ”, to provide Biblical and personal examples on how to finish our “spiritual race”.

“Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters,” says Van Pay.

“Marathon Faith” talks about a passage of scripture in Hebrews that lists the twenty heroes of the faith who “ran with faith the race that was set before them”. Van Pay began to study each of their stories, and believes that each of them has a story to help us in our relationship and walk with Christ.

“In our journey in Christ, every single one of us has a race before us,” he says.

For each chapter of the book, Van Pay writes about one of those endurance runners of the faith and couples it with personal anecdotes of his own.

“I interweave my story and lessons along with their stories to help everybody overcome every common obstacle that we face.”

Van Pay graduated from SAGU in 1995 with a Church Ministries degree. He founded and now currently pastors Gateway Fellowship Church in San Antonio, Texas, the fastest growing church in America in 2016, according to Outreach Magazine .

After graduating, he spent 14 years in student ministry where he became obsessed with his work. He was such a workaholic that his wife packed up her things along with their three children, and told him she was moving back home to Houston. This was a harsh reality check, and Van Pay’s world came crashing down around him.

John Van Pay crossing the finish line of the IRONMAN
endurance race

He slowly began repairing his relationship with the Lord and his wife, and was called to plant a brand-new church in the city where he grew up. However, God had another task for him to complete — to write a book on his experiences. Van Pay considered the challenge difficult, but the end result was very rewarding.

“The Lord redeemed my mess to become a message. My trial was starting to become a testimony,” he shares.

Not only does Van Pay have years of ministry under his belt, but he’s also done about seventy endurance events: marathons, triathlons (including the IRONMAN ), and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro , to name a few.

Though Van Pay doesn’t have any immediate plans to start writing another book anytime soon, he does have future goals regarding his church and ministry. Gateway Fellowship has a vision to start 100 churches in the next 10 years. In addition, this fall they’ll be starting up Gateway School of Ministry – an 18-month school that will teach students to be church planters.

Van Pay advises anyone wanting to write their own book to not be afraid of using issues from their past. In fact, he encourages it.

“So often times, what we were once ashamed of, or out of our greatest weakness can become a great strength…People will relate to you and your weaknesses,” he says.

Writing a book can seem like an overwhelming task, but much like preparing for a marathon, Van Pay says that it starts with training — by putting one foot in front of the other. He says to just pick up your pen and start writing.

“It’s going to be difficult, but you don’t give up, and you go through the process.”

If you’d like to read a free sample or purchase a copy of “Marathon Faith”, go to .

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at

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