“In Ecclesiastes 4, we see that two are better than one because they have a good return for their work,” said Sammy Elliott, pastor of First Baptist Church of Levelland and a cyclist in Bike Out Hunger.
The Bike Out Hunger team has lived out this verse as they have encouraged each other as they road up steep hills, helped others fix flat tires and shared advice about how to survive and thrive on 70-plus mile day rides.
“And I also think this goes with what we are riding for,” he said. “Not one of us on our own can stomp out hunger. It’s clear in scripture that Christ has a heart for the poor, hungry and disenfranchised. If we are Christ followers we should have the same heart. We should be proactive in helping those less fortunate and hungry.”
Sammy challenged the group not to just make the fight to end hunger something to do for a week, but to make it a lifestyle and to do it with others.
“When we deal with hunger, remember that two are better than one in many, many ways,” he said.
And the team did join together to help each and to help six additional riders who came to join the effort today learn the flow of the ride. To this point, 36 cyclists have participated in the effort.
On Wednesday night, Thursday’s ride was beginning to look like it would be a difficult one as heavy thunderstorms covered the area. But by Thursday morning, the storms had moved on, leaving the team with overcast skies and cooler temperatures, perfect for a 70-mile ride.
The route took the group out of Tyler, through Kilgore and Longview before reaching East Texas Baptist University in Tyler. One of the teams stopped in Kilgore to pick up Charles Whiteside, a 76-year-old man who is an avid supporter of and advocate for the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger.
Charles rode just a few miles with the team through Kilgore and opened his office to the group as a rest stop. He said he had been riding 15 miles a week on his stationary bike to get ready for his ride. The group enjoyed meeting someone who has a deep passion for feeding hungry children and helping them have a better life.
The cyclists encountered more flat tires today, but were able to fix the problems and get back on the road quickly. Once in Marshall, ETBU opened a dorm on the campus to house the riders, and Central Baptist Church fed the group a wonderful fajita dinner, sure to give them the energy needed to complete the remaining 90 miles to Texarkana.
While at the church, Brooke Holloway, minister to youth and of community missions at the church, and Emily Prevost, director of community ministries at First Baptist Church Marshall, shared about hunger in the area.
About 20 percent of Harrison County where Marshall sits lives beneath the poverty line, and about 75 percent of students in the Marshall Independent School District is eligible for the free or reduced lunch program at school.
Both ladies help with a community food pantry that feeds more than 500 Marshall families a month.
Emily shared a story of a young, hungry boy she just encountered last night at the Wednesday night activities at FBC Marshall. A young boy named Edward was brought to her office because he had hit someone.
“Kids who have trouble focusing or who display aggressive behavior may be struggling with hunger,” Emily said. “These are some of the main side effects that hungry kids experience.”
As Emily spoke with Edward, he said that he was hungry and asked for another sandwich. In class, the students each received half of a peanut butter sandwich during snack time. Emily asked if he would have anything to eat when he got home, and he shook his head no. She soon realized that this half a PB&J was the only food he was going to get that night if the church didn’t step in and help.
Edward is just one face, one child that is affected by hunger in this area. Brooke also added that the county right north them, Marion County, is the seventh poorest county in Texas.
So as the riders head north out of Marshall tomorrow on their way to Texarkana, they will see first hand some of the poverty these two women shared about tonight.