Nathan Payne is running for Amy For Africa in Tennessee.

Nathan Payne is running for Amy For Africa in Tennessee.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Nathan Payne, the latest to join the running ranks of Team Amy For Africa, said as a young boy he never dreamed of being an astronaut or firefighter.

Payne’s dreams were simple: He wanted to help people.

But Payne, who was a slightly overweight child, took a wrong turn in life when he was 11 years old by discovering a world of drugs and alcohol.

Then that lifestyle that goes along with those sinful addictions became his nightmare.

Payne was in pain.

“From then on it was as if the whole world kept spinning around and I turned off completely; mentally, spiritually, and physically,” he said. “Through the course of a few years I became completely obsessed with seeking and using narcotics.”

It became how this young man found answers to life. Instead of turning to God, he turned to drugs and alcohol, a partying lifestyle that helped no one.

“At first I felt so lucky that I had found a means to cope with all of the painful experiences that occurred in my life, but drugs quickly turned on me,” he said. “To quote a good friend, ‘Drugs started as my best friend, then my only friend, and then they tried to kill me.”’

Eventually, he was living a life of doing nothing but seeking out the pleasure of drugs and all that goes with it. Nothing else mattered to him. Not family, not friends, not anything.

“The lifestyle that went along with using brought me to a rock bottom I couldn’t wish on anyone,” he said.

After trying and failing at giving up his addictions, Payne eventually turned to the One who could take away all his pain. The Great Physician was ready to heal.

“I tried various methods of getting clean, virtually every one I could think of, but it wasn’t until one lonely night that addiction brought me to my knees where I had to ask God for help,” Payne said.

He moved to Cookeville, Tenn., shortly after that come-to-Jesus moment and got involved with a recovery fellowship and “learned to live my life one day at a time without the use of drugs or alcohol.”

The recovery was working and the longer he stayed sober the more the old Nathan started coming back.

About six miles into the recovery program, he started running as a way of therapy and nourishment for the spirit. He fell in love with the sport.

His young passion of wanting to help others started to slowly return as the drug and alcohol addiction disappeared.

“At about a year and a half clean, it was as if I had hit a spiritual wall of sorts, and I began to pray that God would reveal a way of giving back and glorifying His name at the same time,” he said.

Enter Amy Compston and the Amy For Africa team. They were in Cookeville to run the Loonies Midnight Marathon in Livingston, Tenn., when Nathan met Amy and her husband, Chris, in the hotel where the AFA Team was staying. He saw the Amy For Africa shirts and had to ask about them. Amy shared her testimony with Nathan.

“I remember talking to her and it was as if this light bulb went off in my head and I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to combine my two greatest passions – running and helping others,” he said. “I believe that God can move mountains to bring people together and it is my belief that God put Amy and her organization into my life for a reason. I am truly blessed and grateful to be a part of Team Amy For Africa.”

Now, Nathan Payne is doing what he always dreamed of doing. He’s helping others and Team Amy For Africa is glad to have him.

Payne will be running a marathon in October while wearing the Amy For Africa colors. He will be seeking donations for the organization. Team AFA currently has 22 runners.

To learn how you can join the runners of Team AFA, contact or or message Mark or Amy on Facebook at Amy For Africa.