A Red Deer pastor is gearing up to embark on a cross-country bike trip in support of a terrific cause.
Gary Bomhof, pastor at the First Christian Reformed Church, is joining the fundraiser Sea to Sea 2017, which is hosted by Partners Worldwide and World Renew. The group sets out from White Rock, B.C. on June 26th and completes the trek Aug. 31st in Halifax.
“If you’re passionate about ending poverty but the ride is not for you, consider joining the vital efforts of our volunteer squad,” notes an information pamphlet about the ambitious trek.
For Bomhof, the 6,759 km journey is certainly an important one for that very reason, and part of the funds he raises will go to the Mustard Seed ministry here in Red Deer.
Another reason he signed up was to honour the memory of his late wife JoAnn, who passed away in 2015.
Gary said that JoAnn’s kind and generous heart inspired him to join Sea to Sea; he’s calling his coast-to-coast trip ‘JoAnn’s Ride’.
Since 2005, Sea to Sea has raised $5.4 million to support the work of poverty relief organizations. This year, the goal is $3 million.
“Basically it’s a fundraiser to help alleviate poverty,” he said, adding that World Renew is involved with a number of aid agencies and organizations domestically and internationally. “Every rider has to raise a minimum of $12,000 – that’s the goal.”
Gary, 67, said that he had also decided to retire this year, and, “No sooner had I made that decision then I found out about Sea to Sea.”
He felt it was an ideal event to plan for this milestone year, so he started training.
“Now that I’m on my own, I don’t feel like going on a cruise by myself or a trip by myself – but this is a way in which I can see the country with a whole lot of other people, and it’s for a good cause,” he explained.
“My wife was also someone who was really concerned about the other person – that was just her character. And I thought it would be a neat way of honouring her memory, too. She was such a giving person – so it just really suits her character and her values.”
So far, Gary said 104 cyclists from across Canada and the United States have joined Sea to Sea 2017.
The riders will cycle six days a week, dropping below the Great Lakes on the fourth leg of the trip, from Grand Rapids, Minnesota to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
“I’m looking forward to the camaraderie,” he said, adding that it will also be a wonderful way to begin his retirement.
Each day, the vision will simply be to get on the bike and enjoy the journey without that sense of ‘the tyranny of the urgent’. Indeed – it will mark the beginning of a new chapter in his life – where he can spend time relaxing, volunteering in the community and being with his children and grandchildren that much more.
Meanwhile, Gary and JoAnn had been married nearly 39 years at the time of her passing.
They had also been partners in ministry for that entire time, pastoring in Ontario, then in Lethbridge, then back to Ontario. It was in 2006 they settled in Red Deer. And even though he’s retiring, he’s certainly not stepping back from ministry opportunities altogether.
“I tell people I’m retiring – I’m not quitting. I hope to serve churches here and there, and I’m going to look into volunteering.”
For now, Gary is focused on prepping for Sea to Sea. That includes spin classes at the Collicutt Centre and getting out on his bike here in the City as weather has permitted.
“I think once I’m in Calgary, then I believe I’ll be able to say to myself okay, I can do this – once I’ve gotten over the Roger’s Pass,” he said, chucking.
As to the funding, Gary said that the World Renew organization encourages Sea to Sea participants to partner with local organizations. He approached staff at the Mustard Seed and they were immediately onboard.
Anyone is welcome to support Gary on this venture. Just click on www.seatosea.org, hit ‘donate’ and under ‘choose your recipient’ type in his name. For this event, he’s using his given name of Gerrit Bomhof.
He noted also that when he was first considering joining the ride, he didn’t know what kind of reaction he might get from friends and family.
“I prayed about it. And people were saying, ‘That’s a great idea. That’s a fantastic idea!’ It was one piece of encouragement after another. I took that as a sign that it was a green light – so we are going to go for it!”
by Jonathan Sheler
Below is a piece written by Ida Kaastra Mutoigo, a Co-Director of one of our sponsors, World Renew, on her participation in this year’s ride. Enjoy!
Do you know what it’s like to be part of a cyclist’s culture? I had no idea until I recently registered for the Sea to Sea ride. In about three months, from June to August, there will be about a hundred riders who will participate in cycling a portion or the entire route from Vancouver to Halifax. Imagine the spirit it takes to cycle day after day for about 100 to 150 kms each day!
Why have I decided to join this campaign and do the ride from Calgary to Winnipeg? The main reason is to raise awareness and support for what God has laid on my heart – “do justice and love mercy.” World Renew and Partners Worldwide are the two agencies involved in organizing Sea to Sea, a cross country bicycle ride to raise funds to support families in developing countries who are wrestling with poverty through training programs in agriculture, health, literacy, and economic livelihoods. Additionally, at least 20% of the funds raised will go towards supporting local community organizations in Canada and the United States, so that congregations can address issues of poverty, refugee resettlement, and other needs.
My work for about thirty years with World Renew has made me acutely aware of the daily sweat and tears of many families around the world who want to change their story of hunger to one of plenty, their story of despair to one of hope, and their story of broken relationships to one of reconciliation. Many of them strive to get a bicycle in order to transport their produce to the market, to take children to school, to fetch water, to attend church services, and visit friends too. In solidarity with them and with the riders from Sea to Sea, I am excited to be part of this movement that will change stories to reflect God’s intention for his Creation.
Now let me share what I have learned so far about the culture of cyclists. First, I discovered that buying a bicycle for a long ride was completely different from buying a bicycle for doing short errands. A very helpful sales clerk at one of the bike shops in Hamilton started by asking me questions about the terrain I would be riding and suggested I select a hybrid bike with about 29 gears. What a contrast to the 10-speed bike I thought was ultra-modern as a kid! Then he coached me about getting proper shoes, a snuggly-fitted helmet, a saddle (not a seat!) that is ergonomically fitted to the size of my bones and a bike frame that allows me to reach the ground with my feet as well as hold the handle bars comfortably.
As I went through this process of buying the bike with all the accessories, I was reminded of the passage in Ephesians 6:10-20 which talks about putting on the armor of God to fight spiritual warfare. Fighting poverty requires using both spiritual and physical armor. Just like a proper fit with a bike is essential to successfully completing a marathon ride, proper tools are essential to overcome poverty. For example, a cyclist needs to be in good physical shape which includes having a strong girth or waist to avoid a very sore back from hours of being hunched over. Ephesians 6:14 similarly talks about girding the waist with truth and putting on the breastplate of righteousness. When dealing with issues of poverty, it is imperative that people confront lies they believe about themselves and replace them with God’s truth. If they are fatalistic by thinking their destiny is poverty and they can do nothing about it, we encourage them to embrace God’s promises for strength and a life that is flourishing
Pardon the pun, but I am quite geared up for doing the Sea to Sea and hope you will help support the cause as well through your prayers and donations! For more information about the Sea to Sea campaign, check out the website here… and if you would like to donate specifically to the ride I will be doing, here is the site for that as well!
Thanks and blessings,
Ida Kaastra Mutoigo
Co-Director, World Renew
Want to be a part of Sea to Sea but unable to participate as a volunteer or bicyclist?
Sea to Sea has some specific needs that will reduce the cost of conducting the tour, reduce the workload on volunteers and help us minister to more people and communities. All cash donations will receive a tax deductible receipt based on your residence. Equipment donations will receive an in-kind gift letter where the donor will need to assign a value. The dollar amounts are based on what it would cost for Sea to Sea to rent or purchase the equipment.
Below is a post written by Bruce Sienkowski detailing his calling to the Sea to Sea cause. Enjoy! Thanks for writing, Bruce.
The Sea-to-Sea Tour is a physical challenge as well as a moral one. Sea-to-Sea asks us to unite as athletes as well as Christians. Around this time of year, we begin training for our leg of the journey; at the same time, we mobilize our communities of support by asking them to come alongside us in the form of donations.
The ride is a pilgrimage. We ride with a common mission: to witness the work already being done to end the cycle of poverty and to allow ourselves to be changed in the process. A rolling stampede of sweaty bodies, we infiltrate small-town coffee shops, churches, and pubs, sharing stories of our journey with the communities along our route, and in return, learning about the work they are doing to empower the disadvantaged among them.
Funds raised by over 200 riders go to addressing issues of poverty in ways that mobilize leaders to affect change. As the name suggests, the ride extends from the West Coast of North America to the East and takes about nine weeks to complete—riders can, however, choose to participate in one or two week segments.
The Sea-to-Sea ride was born in 2004 and has been based out of Grand Rapids since 2006. In the past eleven years, the ride has raised $5.5 million. Funds go to Partners Worldwide, which provides third-world entrepreneurs small loans and business mentorships and to World Renew, which works within communities around the world to build sustainable development in education, healthcare, farming, small business and disaster relief. Funds also go to communities along the bike route and participants’ hometowns to further ongoing efforts to break the cycle of poverty at ground level.
I feel particularly called to this ride because I am able to blend my passion for skating with my call as a Christian. As inline skating is a niche sport, thousand-mile rides are not common, so I’m blessed to have found a family of cyclists who have taken me in. All of us, regardless of the size of our wheels, are responding to the call of our faith to help the poor, the marginalized, the disabled—those who do not have the opportunity to help themselves.
I recognize that having the time, resources, and opportunity to prepare and participate in this journey is a privilege in itself: it is a privilege to be the one raising money rather than the one accepting help. It is a privilege to cycle for exercise and entertainment rather than for refuge or escape. In Sea-to-Sea, I can channel my sport toward a greater purpose.
Each day of my 500-mile trip begins in makeshift camp with my fellow riders. We wake up on high school football fields, in church basements and state campgrounds, taking a break from our modern lives of convenience to slow down and live a bit more simply, in the hope of helping those for whom survival is not a luxury.
Whether you skate or cycle, serve as a volunteer or donor, a host or a prayer partner, there is a way to join this cast of hope in this time of great economic disparity, and social injustice. The cloud of dust we leave in our wake, the conversations and relationships we craft along our way, are a legacy of action in a world of ambivalence.
Though we aim to raise an impactful financial donation, our bigger dream is to engage people like you, people in our local communities, to face problems of poverty in their own backyards. To that end I have set a personal goal of engaging 1,000 donors with a donation of $1 each. I feel strongly that making this connection with 1,000 people at $1 each is more important that finding a single donor to provide $1,000 in support.
I invite you to join me in being a part of this legacy.
Click here to learn more about being a Sea to Sea partner.
Sponsorship dollars and in-kind donations are used to directly offset operating costs of the tour. These sponsorships offer opportunities for exposure via our website, social media, logo displays on vehicles and rider jerseys, as well as public acknowledgments via newsletters and events.
What kinds of companies sponsor Sea to Sea? All kinds! In the past, our help has come from trucking, food service, cycling, and educational organizations.
Your corporate sponsorship could make a large impact on this event by providing much-needed trucks, trailers, food, and accommodation for riders.
If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.