Church leaders to embark on faith-sharing cycling adventure

Pastors Russ Willcocks and Michael Worker are looking forward to sharing their faith with those they meet on the ride.

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Senior leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific are taking part in a special “I Will Go” bike ride in the lead-up to the 2022 General Conference (GC) Session.

South Pacific Division president Pastor Glenn Townend, Australian Union Conference secretary Pastor Michael Worker and South Queensland Conference president Pastor Brett Townend are among six cyclists riding from Washington DC to St Louis, where the GC Session is scheduled to be held from June 6.

Also taking part in the “I Will Go Ride” are Australians Pastor Russ Willcocks, senior ministry systems specialist at the SPD, and GC associate ministerial secretary Dr Anthony Kent. The sixth rider is Dr Torben Berglund, associate director of the Health Ministries department at the GC, originally from Norway.  They are all paying for the “I Will Go” bike ride and taking holidays to participate. 

Pastor Glenn Townend outside the old Eugowra church not far from where Phillip Reekie sold the first book to Thomas Kent. (Photo credit: Nick Lindsay)

The ride has been inspired by pioneer literature evangelists Phillip Reekie and his nephew Frederick, who rode bicycles to share literature in remote parts of Australia from the early 1890s. Their work had a significant influence in establishing many Adventist churches in Australia. In fact, Phillip Reekie could be credited with transforming thousands of lives after delivering a copy of The Great Controversy to Thomas Kent, a widower from Eugowra in rural New South Wales. Mr Kent shared the book with his neighbours and five other families, who also became disciples of Jesus, influencing subsequent generations. At least 20,000 people have discovered Jesus and His last-day message through the work of those descendants!

More than a century later one of Mr Kent’s descendants—great-great grandson Anthony—is among the six “I Will Go Ride” participants. The cyclists are busy training for the challenge, which will cover some 1600 kilometres over 14 days.

The Great Controversy that was sold to Thomas Kent by the cycling literature evangelist Philip Reekie in about 1896.  

“Preparation for the ‘I Will Go Ride’ has inspired me to push myself to take on longer rides with more elevation and to increase the intensity of my training,” Pastor Worker said. 

“It is always great to have a goal and a purpose for what you are doing, especially when it intersects with your faith.”

The cyclists are planning to distribute Adventist literature and share their faith with those they meet along the route.

“The story of how God has blessed the faithful efforts of Frederick and Philip Reekie has given me a renewed zeal for sharing Bible-based literature with people who I meet,” Pastor Worker said. 

“To think that 130 years on, so many people have come to know Jesus as a result of one little book sold to a farmer in country New South Wales is just incredible. Until we get to heaven, we will never know the results of living our life out for God and sharing our faith with those around us.”

The route that the “I Will Go Ride” cyclists will follow.

“I cycle for my physical and mental health and while cycling have the opportunity to share my faith,” said Pastor Glenn Townend. “My brother Brett and I have been cycling since we were boys. Whatever our hobby we can witness for Jesus and help expand God’s disciple-making movement.” 

The opportunity for faith-sharing also motivated Pastor Willcocks to take part in the ride.

“The gospel is something we are all called to share,” he said. “There is a power in the gospel that changes lives—now and for eternity. Personal ownership of the mission Jesus gave us is at the heart of our calling as a Church. When I was invited to help raise awareness for these things, I was in or as I said, ‘I will go!’

“I’m also looking forward to the shared challenge and the experience with the other riders.”

For more information on the ride and the cyclists go to https://www.iwillgoride.org/. To follow the daily journey of the riders and send messages of support: https://www.instagram.com/iwillgoride.

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