From Sea to Sea: Pastor John’s Journey to help end poverty


 I first learned of Pastor John Noordhof’s  bike journey on behalf of those trapped in the cycle of poverty from Joe Groeneveld, Dixon’s youth leader. Pastor John, from the Williamsburg Christian Reformed Church, is involved in an extraordinary nine week  biking adventure, crossing North America with Sea to Sea.

Pastor John Noordhof is part of a group of nearly 200 people of all ages who are biking in order to raise funds for the national struggle to end poverty. Sea to Sea is sponsored by World Renew, Partners Worldwide and the Reformed Church of America. When he left on his bike journey Pastor John had been pledged well over $10,000 by members of the Williamsburg Christian Reformed Church, and other community supporters.

On June 22, Pastor John dipped the wheel of his bike into the Pacific Ocean at Los Angeles. By August 24, he and fellow bikers hope to be in New York City to dip their wheels into the Atlantic.

Friday, August 16, around 7 a.m., following the night in Brockville, Pastor John Noordhof and other riders should be passing through Morrisburg, stopping at Upper Canada Playhouse for a brief reception. Members of his Williamsburg Church family and other interested people in the community are very welcome to come out and greet John and the Sea to Sea riders.  

Sea to Sea recognizes that there are, of course, no quick fixes for poverty. The non-profit Bike Tour, whose motto is “cycling to end poverty”, is part of a multi-pronged approach to the issue.  The 2008 Bike tour brought in $1.5 million for the cause. Organizers of the 2013 tour are hopeful that this year the donations may reach $3 million. The funds go toward organizations combatting poverty world wide.

Pastor John has had a full, and often exciting journey, peddling at least 70 miles every day. Mac Vandemaheen, of the Williamsburg Church, said that he spent part of the winter practicing for the trip on a stationary bike, but “he was ready to be out on the road.” On a blog, which he updates regularly, he has kept his supporters informed about the journey across North America.

Camping out in tents, staying in auditoriums, gyms in schools and community halls, the bikers have made new friends in the communities they passed through.  In Colorado, Pastor John wrote that he stayed in a dorm, in a “real bed, the first since Vanguard nearly three weeks ago.” In Iowa, contending with rainy weather and two flat tires, he was thrilled by an unexpected visit from church members Ralph and Marge Norg, very much a “bright spot” on the journey. He describes beautiful scenery, the wonder of experiencing mountains, valleys and desert terrain. 

There have been challenges. Temperatures along the way sometimes climbed to over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cyclists had to travel by truck: it was too risky to bike. Outside Colorado Springs, one cyclist fell and broke her leg. Crossing the Continental Divide, Pastor John wrote “There was one short, steep climb that I had to stop three times because I was totally out of breath. The elevation got me.”

However, all along the route, the bikers have met with hundreds of supportive and welcoming officials and ordinary people. Following their crossing back into Canada, the group was able to relax at Redeemer College, and attend a celebration service, where nearly 1,000 people filled the hall. They recently crossed over Toronto, detours, construction and all, a experience Pastor John recalls as “remarkable.” He also celebrated a birthday on the road.

Cyclists with Sea to Sea have described the tour as a “life-changing experience where they got to depend on God for his protection and had the opportunity to join others in collectively seeking to glorify God by raising money to aid those who are caught in the cycle of poverty.”

Donations to Pastor John’s cause can still be made by going to the Sea to Sea website.

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