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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bicycle rides can help you live your faith and help change the world

Bicycle rides can help you live your faith and help change the world
By:  Michael Lander


There may not be an obvious connection to cycling and to faith,
but one would not need to look very hard to find numerous
ways in which there could be.  This photo is of the Abbey of
Gethsemani near New Haven, KY, which is about 350 miles
northeast of Memphis.  This monastery is a good location for
riding and for a faith-filled spiritual and religious retreat
experience.

Most of us have heard about taking a
leap of faith or taking a walk of faith, but sometimes, the living of one’s faith can come in many different and unique ways.  For some, it can even be found on two wheels.

Whether or not we think of ourselves as being a person of faith, we still have many times in our lives when we find ourselves placing our trust and our faith in someone or something else.  It would be virtually impossible to go through life without doing that.

It is only natural, then, that we would put our trust and faith in something much greater than ourselves that gives some meaning and purpose to our very existence and we find that when we turn to the divine – or in other words – to
God.

Cycling, like faith, can be a test of endurance and perseverance
and both can be an extremely rewarding and meaningful
experience, especially if one contributes toward the other.

So, you might ask, how can one express or demonstrate their faith on a bicycle?

The answer, it would seem, is quite simple.

Cycling affords many opportunities for a cyclist to experience their faith, to share their faith, and to live their faith and the bicycle, itself, can provide the modus operandi in order to do just that.

Just about everybody recognizes the health benefits of cycling and even the therapeutic benefits of it as well.  There is also a social, recreational, practical (utilitarian), and a competitive aspect of cycling, too.

Many people of faith, like Brother Matthew at the Abbey of
Gethsemani, can appreciate the true pleasure of riding a bike
and the usefulness of it in his work and service as a
Trappist Monk.
 
Even though many might not think about, faith can be as much a part of one’s cycling experience as any of these other things are. 

The application of faith can, arguably, be done at any time or any place, but there are some things that seem to lend themselves more to it than others and cycling is one of them.  

In our busy and hectic lives, a cyclist will often find, when riding, that a bike ride can provide them with an opportunity to escape from the many distractions of life and it can provide them with an opportunity for solitude, reflection, and prayers that they might not, otherwise, have time for.
 
Charitable fundraising events like the St. Jude Bike Ride in
Memphis, provide an opportunity for cyclists to
demonstrate and to live out their faith by raising money
and awareness for causes that benefit others.
  
Cycling can also give a person a chance to ride not only for themselves, but in a such a way that it will benefit others, giving them the means in which they can actively demonstrate or express their faith.

One of the best ways that someone can begin to do this is by participating in charitable fundraising events of which there are many that take place each year in
Memphis.

Click here to see a list of charitable fundraising events in our river city:
http://memphiscyclist.com/html/charityrides.html

In addition to the charity-related bike rides, there are also other rides, like the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry (UBFM) outreach ministry at First Church United Methodist in downtown Memphis, in which cyclists can participate.
 
There are many ways in which bicycles can be used to
assist people of faith in helping others.  Mike Rouse, of the
Urban Bicycle Food Ministry, gives some last minute
instructions to cyclists before they out with food to give
to the homeless and hungry in downtown Memphis.
 
UBFM helps to feed the homeless and hungry in our city and it offers people of faith to reach out their hands and open their hearts to do God’s work in our community and it’s all done on a bicycle.

Click here to read more about the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry in Memphis:
http://memphiscyclist.blogspot.com/2015/05/outreach-ministry-on-bicycles-in.html

Some churches, like First Congregational Church in the Cooper-Young neighborhood have also created an innovative and unique bicycling ministry, known as Revolutions Co-op, which offers a healthy, environmentally-friendly, and an alternative (and cheaper) mode of transportation for Memphis area residents.

Click here to read about First Congregational Church’s Revolution Co-op:

Bicycles can, and have also been used, by missionaries or other people of faith who may sometimes find themselves in remote and isolated areas, or by those who have limited financial means for transportation.


The Revolutions Co-op at First Congregational Church is
one of the most innovative church ministries that focuses
on meeting the needs of our Memphis area communities
with bicycles.  Its director, Sylvia Crum, is pictured in
the front with a group of others, to include her husband,
Teddy, behind her.

In these instances, the bicycle can be the best and most intimate way that can enable them to connect with people and to spread and share their faith.

In this way, bicycles can essentially become instruments that can lead people to a life of faith and service to others.

Click here to read more about how bicycles can lead some down the road of faith:
http://memphiscyclist.blogspot.com/2014/05/cycling-may-lead-some-down-road-toward.html

There are yet other ways where bicycles can be used by people of faith to do some good in this world that is often so hungry for it. 

A popular non-profit bicycle club in Memphis, known as the
Memphis Hightailers, is one group that not only sponsors and participates in charity-related bicycle events, but they are also establishing a ride that will enable those who are visually impaired to experience the joy and freedom that can come from a simple bicycle ride.

Bicycles can be used for so many purposes and they can also
be a tool that can unify people and communities with one
another.  Livable Memphis Program Director, John Paul
Shaffer, is leading a group of cyclists during a Bikes on
Broad event that took place once a month from April to
November 2015.

In these and other ways that bicycles can be used in performing faith-based works, there are also things that bicycles can do for our communities at large.

Bicycles can help unify our communities and bring people together where we are not separated by barriers, fences or walls.  A bicycle can give us an opportunity to meet one another in places where we can learn to get to know and appreciate one another. 

Whether it is on the roads, trails, or in public parks, a bicycle can take us to places where people often come from communities from around Memphis.  Knowing this, people of faith can take advantage of this, if they wish to reach out to others.

Memphis has had an explosion of bike lanes, trails, and
improved public parks, like Shelby Farms.  All of these
places provide the perfect setting for people to not
only enjoy and appreciate what we have in the
Memphis area, but through faith, they can be
places that bring us together and to unify us.

The bicycle can take us from a world where we may be segregated and divided and bring us to places where we have a chance to meet, to talk, and to see each other as fellow travelers in this world and this can all start by the simple act of riding a bicycle.

As people of faith, we should seek to dismantle that which obstructs and divides us and bicycles can be one way to help to unify our communities by bringing people together. 

To read more about how bicycling can break down barriers, click on this story: 
http://memphiscyclist.blogspot.com/2014/05/cycling-has-few-boundaries-and-it.html

As much as bicycling can be an outward expression of one’s faith, it can also help the body and soul of those who do it.

Cycling is one of the best physical activities that most
everyone can do.  Staying active and healthy can allow
people of faith to better accomplish the work of
helping others and sharing their faith.

It is the body, especially, that can benefit from riding a bike and people of faith should not ignore the value of their own health.  It is only from taking care of our bodies that any of us are better able to carry out the work and mission of sharing our faith with others. 

Click here to read more about the health benefits of cycling:
http://memphiscyclist.blogspot.com/2012/04/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none.html

Many Christians know the story of the good Samaritan and all cyclists, whether they are people of faith or not, should always be ready, willing, and able to assist those in need.

We should all take the time to learn some first aid techniques, (what to do for broken bones, bleeding,
CPR, etc.).  This is a skillset that is invaluable, whenever you or someone else might need it.

Cycling offers one of the best ways to take in some scenery,
but like everything else in life, there are some risks of
injury when cycling so cyclists should learn what they
can to treat injuries and to be good Samaritans for those
in need.

You can find a lot about first aid and CPR by reading or watching videos on the Internet or by taking classes, which may be offered by the American Red Cross or others. 

Whenever possible, we should always be willing to render any assistance, especially to those who require immediate medical attention. 

The day might come when you will need someone to help you and Good Samaritan Laws in most states will protect you for any actions that you take to help anyone in distress. 

Here are links for Good Samaritan Laws in Tennessee: http://web.archive.org/web/20110105082432/http://www.heartsafeam.com:80/files/Tennessee_Good_Samaritan_Act.pdf
, Mississippi:

It is not uncommon to find cyclists stopping and offering
assistance to other cyclists and it is something that people
of faith can and should do whether they are on a bike or
not.  Michael Wener, on the left, stopped and offered
his help to a fellow cyclist during a fundraising
cycling event for the National MS Society on
September 10, 2016.  (Photo:  Courtesy of
Tim Wheat)

If you are a person of faith, a bicycle will not only be something that can help you to improve your own life and your own health, but it has the potential to do so much more and to even change the world for the better. 

You need only to open your mind to its potential and let your faith take you from there.

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