By Evelyn Ticona
Only six days ago, three Palm Beach Atlantic University graduates began what is probably the most compelling journey of their lives: a 3,100-mile bicycle trip.
“Our goal is to reach people along the way talking about God and tell them how fortunate we are for having Christ as the biggest part of our lives,” said Ryan James, who graduated in Fall 2008.
PBA alumnus Caleb Price, 23, who also graduated last fall, and 23-year-old Jonathan Engelhardt, who graduated in May 2008, are James’ companions on this journey. The bicycle ride began in San Diego, Calif., on Sept. 29 and they expect to reach their destination in St. Augustine, Fla., by Nov. 12.
Going from coast to coast across the country, James, Engelhardt and Price want to create awareness and share God’s unconditional love while helping to raise aid for a health clinic in Durban, South Africa.
The raised funds will help fulfill nutritional needs for the community and also support James in a six-month mission trip to Phoenix, South Africa, beginning in January.
The purpose of this mission trip is to focus on the construction of the Phoenix Fellowship Church.
The church is already under construction; the clinic is a future plan that will develop over the next few years.
“They meet at a college auditorium now, so the idea is to build up their church,” James said. “We want to interact with the youth also.”
The church will not only serve as a place of worship but also as a facility to help the community in practical ways.
“[Engelhardt and Price] saw the trip as an opportunity to minister to people we may meet along the road and a great way to support a mission in Africa,” James said in his blog on www.changingone.com.
The two primary foundations backing the bike trip are Changing The World One Smile At a Time and the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. The groups are also providing funding for James’ mission trip to South Africa.
During the summer, the three PBA graduates called all the churches that are located in towns where they will make stops on their way to St. Augustine, asking for food and a place to sleep.
“I’ve called around 30 to 35 churches in the summer,” James said. “Some of them offered a church member’s house and others will have coffee houses during the nights we’ll be there.”
According to their Web site, there will be 45 stops throughout the bike route.
Each day, the three will cover approximately 65 miles. On the toughest day they will cover up to 119.5 miles from Sierra Blanca, Texas, to Ft. Davis, Texas.
After their expected arrival date in St. Augustine on Nov. 12, the group plans to visit PBA on Nov. 18.
“We want to visit and see our friends there,” James said.
For more information about Changing The World One Smile At a Time and how to support the cause go to http://www.changingone.com.
“I would encourage students to take action in the problems they see and areas in need,” James said. “God is able to provide the needs you have financially and physically. Just let him guide your steps along the way.”