By Lana and Glen Robyne
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Our Wesley Foundation group of 18 "Bikers for Jesus" said "yes" to a crazy, unique and life-changing trip from West Lafayette to St. Louis.
Plans started when we received a call last fall from the Wesley Foundation at Arkansas State University. We were told by ASU Wesley about their cycling ministry called "Tour de Faith."
The student leaders of each group were eager to meet, so they mutually decided to rendezvous in St. Louis - half way between our respective ministries. We were both challenged to do things differently than in the past. While ASU usually bicycles in May, we have always gone in August.
In the end, they took on the challenge of more miles, going outside their conference, and raising money with pledges, while we took on the vision of going in May, doing mission work and "limiting" our trip to 300 miles and four-and-a-half days of bicycling.
Despite the breezy challenges, everyone on the trip had a marvelous time thanks to the hospitality of all the churches and campus ministries each group stopped at along the way. Our Bikers for Jesus began the trip enjoying the overnight shelter of First UMC in West Lafayette along with the wonderful cooking of its United Methodist Women for supper and breakfast as we prepared to start our journey.
We had a lovely lunch at Williamsport UMC and a nice hike at the falls and Portland Arch. After brief stops in Covington and Perrysville, we spent the first night at the UMC in Georgetown, Ill. Through Central Illinois we stopped at churches providing hospitality of a place to sleep and great food. Thank God for small churches and their Midwestern hospitality.
Twenty miles from St. Louis, we united with the ASU Wesley group. While never having met face-to-face, we already shared a strong bond of shared faith and commitment. This bond grew as we bicycled beneath the Arch together to end our journeys.
In St. Louis, our combined groups did mission work. Half of our group spent the day at Kingdom House, a UM-sponsored social service agency. The other half of the group volunteered at Centenary UMC's thriving soup kitchen and with other programs to help the homeless. We stayed Friday and Saturday nights at Manchester UMC, the new home church of two Purdue Wesley alumni, Doug and Olivia (Kitterman) Crook.
Highlights from the trip included: the "lake" baptism of one of our students who committed his life to Christ; the guys stubbornly riding through rain while the girls were wise enough to catch rides into Charleston; and celebrating Doug and Olivia's first wedding anniversary with a renewal of vows on the last day of the trip. In all things the groups learned first-hand about the giving and receiving of hospitality and grace - the heart of our faith.
Lana and Glen Robyne direct the ministry of the Wesley Foundation at Purdue University.