Brooke Taylor is running a half-marathon halfway around the world.

Brooke Taylor describes herself as a normal mom, but she's about to embark on an extraordinary venture.

On March 16, the Green resident will run a half-marathon in Jerusalem's Old City to raise funds for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which assists endangered Christians in the Middle East.

Taylor, a parishioner of St. Paul's Catholic Church in North Canton, is a veteran radio broadcaster and host of the podcast "Good Things Radio" on 1260 AM in Cleveland.

She is the daughter of Joan and the late Larry Spieth of North Canton.

"The program is a show for all Christians; for moms trying to live out their faith in challenging times," she said. "It's a lifestyle show for all Christians."

The seeds of Taylor's fundraising project were planted in 2017. During a Holy Land pilgrimage, she was able to spend a night locked in a Syrian Orthodox chapel inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on a site traditionally believed to be where Jesus was entombed.

The chapel, which was defaced with graffiti, brought to mind the current state of Syria, Taylor said.

"Something happened to me; the whole night I was in the chapel, my heart went out the Syrian people," she recalled. "The situation is just so overwhelming. I fell in love with the Middle East, being there. As a mom, I try to be involved in the news. We all know that part of the world is complicated, I think, especially for Christians, who are very marginalized there. There a lot of needs there."

Orange shirts

Caught between a bloody civil war and a rise in Islamic extremism, the number of Christians in Syria has declined precipitously. Syrian Christians constituted 25 percent of the country's population in the 1920s. Today, it's about 11 percent.

The United Nations reported in 2016 that of the 5.5 million Syrians who fled country as refugees, more than 825,000 were Christian.

"There are areas where it's very difficult to be a Christian," Taylor said. "In some parts of Syria it is not an exaggeration to say Christianity is almost extinct."

Taylor said she became inspired to help Syrian Christians and Aid to the Church in Need after learning about the work of Sister Annie Demerjian, an affiliate of ACN who ministers to Christians in Aleppo, and the Rev. Douglas Bazi, an Iraqi Chaldean who was kidnapped and tortured by Islamic terrorists.

Taylor will be joined on the run by her youngest son, 15-year-old Grant, and the Rev. John Michael Paul of the Community of St. John, with hopes of raising at least $1,000 for ACN.

All proceeds will be donated to the charity.

"I've been a runner for 20 years," she said. "This course is one of the five hardest in the world because it's hilly. The Bible calls Jerusalem 'a city on the hill.' They're not kidding."

Taylor said she opted to run a half-marathon because of she's still recovering from a knee injury.

"We're going to be wearing orange shirts to represent the Coptic martyrs who were beheaded by ISIS," Taylor said "What I've found, sadly is, it's hard to gets people's attention on this."

She blames some of the disinterest on the distractions so easily found in modern culture.

Cradle of the church

"It's bread and circuses," she said. "People don't want to think about difficult issues. I believe we care, but people don't know the best way to help because there is such a web of complicated issues over there. They don't know which organizations to support ...The reason ACN is a great charity is because they go into places where NGO's (non-governmental organizations) can't get in, like Aleppo."

Taylor, who noted that St. Paul was converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus, Syria, said Syrian Christians under siege aren't just suffering from the trauma of the civil war but also trauma of the spirit.

"We all need to support our brothers and sisters," Taylor said. "The Disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Syria)."

Syria is regarded as the cradle of Christian church. Despite the war, Damascus still houses one of the largest Christian populations in the Middle East. As one of the world's oldest continually-inhabited cities, Damascus was the site of Christianity's first ecumenical gathering, the Council of Ephesus, in 431, and is home to the Melkite Greek (Eastern) Catholic Church, as well as the Syrian and Greek Orthodox churches.

Taylor stressed that she's not an organization, just a person trying to serve God through what she calls "intentional discipleship" and highlighting Aid to the Church in Need.

She added that she's grateful to be doing the fundraiser in Jerusalem during Lent, which began Wednesday and runs through April 20.

"You're giving life back to the Holy Land," she said.

To learn more visit To hear Taylor's program, visit

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