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10/15/97 Cyclists pedal, witness to Promise Keepers rally

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. (BP)–Eight men recorded “1,400 miles of prayer and pedaling” in cycling to the nation’s capital for the Oct. 4 Promise Keepers rally.
“Team PK” began their nine-day journey to Washington Sept. 25, covering about 150 miles a day by bicycle. The eight men from Florida’s Tampa Bay area, five of them Baptists, shared the gospel with cyclists, campers, truck drivers and store clerks along the way at restaurants and stop lights. As a result, six people made professions of faith in Christ and 5,000 gospel tracts were distributed.
The team wore Promise Keepers jerseys and helmets made especially for the event. Corporate sponsors provided equipment and supplies, while churches provided prayer and support. Members of First Baptist, Seminole, donated funds to Florida’s Maguire State Mission Offering for every mile the riders traveled, raising more than $1,500.
Charles Littlejohn, a member of First Baptist Church, Tarpon Springs, came up with the idea of a combination biking and mission trip to the rally. He soon had the support of fellow cyclist Craig Price, pastor of the Seminole congregation. Price encouraged three other cycling enthusiasts in the congregation to join the team, Allan Russell, Noel Dunham and Marcus Irvin. Two other members of the church, David Turley and Phil Doster, drove ahead of the team in an RV and van, also sharing their faith.
“It was not for bragging rights to say we’d biked 1,400 miles,” Littlejohn said. “I like to cycle, but I don’t like to cycle that much.
“The motivation for the trip came from it being a mission trip,” he said. “The most exciting thing about this was getting the opportunity to share our faith.”
“Cycling is a way to share Christ with people who may not have been touched by the gospel before,” Price said. “We sowed gospel seeds from here all the way to Washington D.C.”
The trip also was a time of personal reflection. “Cycling offers a quiet time where the senses are alert and the mind is free to think,” Littlejohn said, noting cycling gives him a chance to “feel very much alone with my thoughts and with the Lord.”
Team PK members trained for months to prepare for the strenuous ride, traveling 100-150 miles together every Saturday and more miles individually during the week. The men also prepared spiritually for the trek.
They are involved in Promise Keepers throughout the year in PK accountability groups.
“More than anything, the trip was a spiritual journey, even more than a physical journey,” Russell said. “We were riding side by side as brothers, getting closer and praying for each other.”
Irvin said when he got tired, he thought of Exodus 17:12, which recounts how Moses was upheld by his brothers.
The group also experienced the value of upholding each other when a car ahead of them put on its brakes suddenly, causing a chain reaction. Irvin’s bike flew out from under him, but he managed to hit the ground running in time to catch Dunham, who was riding in front of him, to keep him from falling.
That was nothing short of a miracle for several reasons, Littlejohn said. Irvin would have fallen with his bike if his shoes hadn’t come unclipped from the pedal. He was the only one wearing the type of shoe that would allow running.
“The trip was a feat we couldn’t have done on our own power and strength,” Littlejohn said. There were too many instances of God’s grace and provision to think otherwise, he said. The group put 9,000 total miles on their bikes, with only one flat tire. Littlejohn said he usually gets a flat tire for every 400 to 500 miles of smooth travel.
The culmination of the trip was a ride beside the Potomac River to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where a crowd of PK supporters and media gathered to meet them. Many had heard about the group through coverage by CNN television and Christian radio stations.
“I had no idea riding a bicycle would be so encouraging to people, in a spiritual sense, even,” Littlejohn said. “But I know that each one of us will be changed forever in our walk with the Lord because of the experience.”

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  • Kristi Hodge