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2/22/2014 8:04:00 AM
Bike tour guide puts faith, charity on map

A faith-based cross-country bicycle tour guide uses a hymn from Oregon Catholic Press as its theme song. Bernadette Farrell's Christ Be Our Light, sung by Catholics across the English speaking world, was chosen by publishers of Sea to Sea: Cycling to End Poverty (Reformed Church Press, 2013. 181 pages. 1-800-968-6065).

The 181-page guide offers maps and elevation charts from Los Angeles to New York, plus scripture, reflections and prayers for each day along the route. Rides average 70 miles per day.

A large group used the book for a cross-country tour last summer, but the book is available for independent cyclists who want their trip to have even deeper meaning.
The guide often identifies charities along the way and urges prayer and donations for the groups, like the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness and the Community Action House in Holland, Mich.

"This is more than an ordinary bike tour. It is a bike tour with a purpose, one that we hope will change thousands of lives through prayer and through financial support for health, food, work and job opportunities," says the book's foreword.   

The nine-week, 3,800-mile bike route starts in Newport Beach, Calif. and heads east, visiting Phoenix, Shiprock, New Mexico; Colorado Springs; Iowa City; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Montreal.  

"This time provides a great opportunity to be close to God every hour of every day and see his majesty and glory," the foreword concludes. "Listen carefully so you can hear God's voice calling  and feel his hand pushing you up the hills or brushing your cheeks with a cool breeze."

Each rider is to ask, "Where did I see God today?"

Many reflections focus on the poor and urge riders to meet and talk with low-income people they encounter on the route. One says: "When the heat overwhelms you, remember that the poor have no air conditioning. When you are hungry, remember that the poor may eat only one meal today."

Farrell's song, sung regularly along the way, points out those who suffer:

"Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
Shared until all are fed."

The book employs some cycling images to the life of faith, urging riders to reflect Christ in their lives just as the reflectors on their cycles reflect light. The books says that Christians who cooperate can achieve more, just like a line of riders who take turns at the front.

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