With a prayer, a cheer, and a splash, the Christian Reformed Church’s 2008 Sea to Sea bicycle tour came to a joyous conclusion.The tour began June 30 in Seattle, Wash. After reciting the Lord’s Prayer on Aug. 30 at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 200 cyclists dipped their front tires into the water at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, with hundreds of supporters cheering them on.Ranging in age from 18 to 72, the cyclists included pastors using sabbatical time, workers taking vacation time, college students forgoing summer earnings, and still others who left jobs altogether to bike all summer.For many of them, the end of the tour brought mixed emotions. “It’s hard to believe it is over, it is such an emotional experience,” said Rev. Bert Slofstra of Abbotsford, British Columbia.Peter Kranenburg, 22, from Hamilton, Ontario, didn’t know what to think. “It’s weird,” he said. “It’s great to be here, sad to be done, and I have to be in school tomorrow. But it’s amazing.”Renee Brunsting, a 35-year-old from Fort Collins, Colo., found the tour end bittersweet. She cycled from Michigan to New Jersey, planning to finish the tour with her dad, Don Brunsting, from Hamilton, Mich. However, Don broke his clavicle six weeks into the tour and couldn’t finish.“I finished it for him,” she said, holding back tears. “I called him just now, told him I wished he were here.”The tour raised $2.1 million to fight poverty both at home and abroad. The money will be divided between Christian Reformed ministries that help alleviate poverty worldwide and local churches that run development projects in their own communities.Rev. Jerry Dykstra, executive director of the CRC, addressed the cyclists at a closing worship service held at Cedar Hill CRC in Wyckoff, N.J. He expressed his gratitude and relief that everyone on the tour had been spared serious injury. “I have prayed for you every day,” he said, his voice quavering with emotion. “Every day, I knew I could get that phone call that someone was seriously injured or worse. That call never came because God protected you.”“I want to thank you on behalf of the churches,” he continued. “You have shown a Christlike example of care for a hurting world.”
After months of training and thousands of miles on the road, the 2008 Sea to Sea bike tour to end the cycle of poverty is history.
The Banner has been following the tour, featuring cyclists, reporting on celebration rallies, reading the blogs, and corresponding with cyclists.
The tour is history, but poverty is not. Cyclists have returned home with memories to last a lifetime. Those of us who have spent part of every day this summer reading blogs and following along from home with the devotional book have found other ways to fill our time. But people caught in poverty don’t get to change gears so easily.
Rev. Jerry Dykstra, executive director of the Christian Reformed Church and one of the cyclists, said it well when he wrote about his ninth day on the tour: “Yesterday as my patience, legs, and seat were all reaching their respective limits, the hills seemed endless. [But] we had no choice but to continue to crank the pedals and push forward. My thoughts turned to those caught in poverty whose lives are much like our bike ride. Just when they overcome one challenge or adversity, another awaits. A young single mom finally finds a job and then her car breaks down. Because she can’t get to work on time, she loses her job. Now she has no car, no job, and little hope. Each day she awakens to another day of climbing hills.”
We hope the tour has made you more aware of those in poverty and made you think about what you can or should be doing to help end it. As it has in the past, The Banner will continue to highlight stories of people and churches and ministries that work hard to help break the cycles that keep people poor.
On these two pages, and on pages 52-53, we hope you will enjoy our coverage of the end of this historic tour.