In the depths of the Covid 19 pandemic, when our world was confined to masks and social distancing, two men craved an opportunity to do something meaningful with their time. Dr. Anthony Kent, associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC), and Dr. Torben Berglund, associate director of the Health Ministries department, pondered what they could do.
“I called Torben,” said Kent, “and we wondered what we could do for our physical and mental health while sharing our faith. Thus, the 'I Will Go Ride' was born”.
On Sunday, May 22nd, Kent, Berglund, and the rest of the 'I Will Go Ride' team will set out on a journey of more than 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers). They will ride from Washington, D.C., to St. Louis to share about Jesus with those they meet along the way. They plan to arrive at the GC Session in St. Louis, Missouri at 2 pm on Sunday, June 5th, where they will be greeted upon their arrival by church leaders. They will continue their journey to the Called Convention in Lexington after the GC Session. The other six cyclists participating in the ride are Glenn Townend, president of the South Pacific Division, To Phuong Pham Nguyen, Rob Hansford, Brett Townend, Michael Worker, and Russ Willcocks. Though this long adventure will be the first time several members of the team will cycle an extensive distance, this ride is not the first time cycling and faith have merged.
More than a century ago, pioneer literature evangelist, Philip Reekie, emigrated from Scotland to Australia. Widowed and divorced, Reekie longed for hope and searched for a new life. One day, he was gifted a book that allowed Reekie to discover wonderful Bible truths that changed his life and compelled him to share his new faith with others. Immediately, Reekie left his work as an engraver and jumped on a bicycle. He rode thousands of miles around Australia seeking to “engrave the love of God and His word on people's hearts,” states Kent. Reekie's commitment to evangelism allowed him to disciple thousands of lives, including the life of Kent's great-great-grandfather, Thomas Kent.
Broken after his wife's passing and left with 11 children, Thomas struggled to determine how he would fulfill his wife's final wish. She requested that their family be reunited in heaven when Jesus returned. One day, as Kent plowed his field, his hard work was interrupted by Reekie, who provided him with a copy of The Great Controversy, by Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White. It was then that Thomas obtained the hope he desperately longed for, leading him to share his discoveries with his children and neighbors. This act resulted in the formation of an Adventist church. Since then, many individuals have given their lives to Jesus. Together, more than 20,000 people have discovered the life-saving love of Christ in Australia because of one man on a bicycle.
The dedication leading Reekie and Thomas to share the gospel in the 1890s has inspired Kent and Berglund to do the same today. Although many of the team's riders, like Berglund, have been cycling for over 30 years, the 'I Will Go Ride' will not be an easy journey.
“Each day, we will be riding for about 100 miles, and we'll be carrying literature in our uniforms. We'll be stopping only to eat, pray, and give literature to others. We'll also be resting on the Sabbath”, said Bergland.
After months of preparation, prayer, and extensive physical training, several riders will be taking a year's leave of absence from their work to participate in the ride. This initiative is sponsored and supported by several organizations worldwide, such as Adventist Mission and the South Pacific Division. Nonetheless, riders will provide lodging, food, and jerseys at their expense.
Kent and Bergland commented, “our hope through the 'I Will Go Ride' is to see Adventists motivated and excited about evangelism. We want people to ask themselves, 'what can I do?'. Look to your area. Where can you go? What do you have in your hand that can help you share the lovely message of Jesus and prepare the world for his second coming?”. They added, “our greatest desire is to lead as many people as possible to Jesus and help them prepare for His return.”
You can support the 'I Will Go Ride' by praying for the team's safe travels and the Holy Spirit's blessing along the way. For more information on the ride, the cyclists, and how to support financially, go to https://www.iwillgoride.org/. You can also follow the daily journey of the riders and send messages of support at https://www.instagram.com/iwillgoride.