Loud cheers and clapping welcomed the “I Will Go” cyclists as they rode triumphantly into St Louis on Sunday, June 5 at the end of their epic 1900km faith-sharing adventure.
General Conference (GC) president Pastor Ted Wilson was among those who had gathered to greet the cyclists. He offered a prayer of thanks to God for His protection over the group over the past two weeks.
A number of delegates from the South Pacific Division (SPD), who are in St Louis to attend the General Conference Session, also came to congratulate the cyclists and hear about their travels.
Pastor Michael Worker, general secretary of the Australian Union Conference, said the final day of riding was memorable.
“We got up this morning and it was such mixed emotions,” he said. “It was kind of like, ‘Oh, it’s the last day.’ I think we’re all ready to have a day off the bike, but we’ve formed such a bond as a team and when we all go our different ways we’re going to miss that camaraderie and being involved in mission.”
Throughout the ride, the cyclists took time to stop, chat with people and hand out copies of The Great Controversy and Your Bible and You.
“Most people would take them, and then we’d talk about the books,” said SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend. “And, amazingly, at times we would pray for people and sometimes people would pray for us. That was the energising part.”
Pastor Worker said he was amazed at how welcoming people had been. “It’s really surprised me,” he said.
“You go through a little town of 30 or 40 houses and to have eight cyclists come through, some of them said it’s the biggest thing that’s happened in their town for years.
“As soon as you say we are riding from Washington to St Louis they are like, ‘Are you crazy?’, but it was such a great opening line, because they would say, ‘Well, why are you doing it?’ and so you would tell the story and say, ‘We want to give you this gift.’
“In many ways it’s been the easiest way to give out literature that I have come across in my years of ministry.”
SPD senior ministry systems specialist Pastor Russ Willcocks said it had been a privilege to be able to touch the lives of many people they met on the ride.
“We felt that God had gone before us and these were divine appointments,” he said. “There were so many of those along the way that each day we were just buzzing.”
Also on the “I Will Go” cycling team were South Queensland Conference president Pastor Brett Townend, Brisbane Adventist Rob Hansford, GC associate ministerial secretary Dr Anthony Kent, GC health ministries associate director Dr Torben Berglund, and Southeastern Asia Union Mission publishing and health director Pham Nguyen To Phuong.
The ride was 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. It was supported by the 10,000 Toes Campaign and Global Mission.