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The Good Samaritans of London - Meaghan St John and Back on Track
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By Mike Toth





Professionally, Meaghan St John is a nurse with the Trauma Centre at London Health Sciences. As such, she sees the lives of patients and their families changed in an instant, whether it is due to bad choices of the patient or someone else or a split second that something goes wrong. It is this constant battle with trauma and tragedy, and her deep faith in Jesus, that led her to start the Back on Track running program at the Ark Aid Street Mission in London.

St John grew up in a Christian home in the Muskoka’s in which they would often have church as a family when the weather was too poor to go to church. She remembers asking Jesus into her heart at around age five, sitting into her mothers’ lap. The family moved to London when she was in grade 9, and the youth group at Glad Tidings Assembly (now Gateway Church) was instrumental in her early spiritual formation.

St John graduated nursing school, began to work, and started a family with her husband, Ray. When her children grew out of their toddler years, though, she began to get a real urgency about her faith. Yah took her through a season of deep, personal growth in which He was teaching her to be more real in her walk and in her relationships. Some of this came out of her profession.

“In my job I was forced to embrace death as a part of life,” says St John. “Life is just a moment and I don’t want to miss out or have any regrets. I want to live life with a purpose.”

Living with a purpose led her to volunteer with Ark Aid for a couple of years. Ark Aid is a Christian mission on Dundas Street that serves all people in need, but especially those who have a lack of resources. St John asked the assistant director, Wayde Foss, what they needed volunteer wise. His answer was initially less than satisfying, though ultimately empowering: “We don’t know what we need. Our volunteers bring what they have.” Her answer soon came.

St John attended a volunteer banquet with Ark Aid, and she felt God put it on her heart strongly to start a running program there at the ministry. While her initial reaction was, “Oh God, how am I going to be able to this,” the inspiration was a pretty good fit. Running has been a part of her life for many years, and she has had many of her best times with God while running. She gets to see people all the time who will never run again, and in her gratitude she wants to be able to provide an opportunity to get their lives and their health back on track.

Back on Track started a year ago with four runners including Foss and his wife. In fact, Foss doesn’t miss a run. The runs start at Ark Aid every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6 am. The program is for people of any fitness level, and both walkers and runners have been known to show up. There is a goal race in September of 10-15 kilometres in length, and although the focus is on those who use the missions and downtown centres of London, it is open to anyone. There is no fee for the program as it is entirely volunteer driven. In fact, St John says that the program would not exist if it weren’t for the volunteers and donors, such as the Running Room which provides used running shoes for those without.



“We have a focus on the Gospel, and it (Back on Track) is Christ driven,” says St John. “There is nothing that’s worth doing outside of God. There is no purpose in volunteering outside of God; it won’t last.”

“The amount of need in London can feel overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you from taking the first step. My mom used to tell me, ‘You have to untie your boat. God can steer you once you leave the harbor.’”