Saturday, October 28, 2017

Good Samaritan Cycling Team

About to hit the streets with Art.
Do you ever have those moments when you just know that what you are about to do is either going to be totally awesome or an epic fail? Where the line between innovation and ignorance is blurred, and probably you will look like a fool, but maybe do something significant in someone’s life?

That’s basically what the Good Samaritan Cycling Team is all about.

We are a (small) team of bike riders (I don’t think we qualify as cyclists yet!) who are dedicating to serving our homeless, transient or just struggling neighbors in downtown Fort Myers. Basically, we ride around downtown to places where people find shelter during the day and pass out cold water, granola bars, socks, bug spray and other helpful items to folks on the street. But frankly, that is just an excuse for us to get to know the neighbors we serve. Really we’re just looking to love on them, and if possible to help them figure out how to get into a healthier and safer situation. I’ll confess up front: the idea might sound ludicrous. But, over the last three months it has been the source of a lot of joy, and even fun, for our riders and the friends we serve.

The inspiration for this ministry came on one (of many!) trips of John’s to physical therapy downtown. Day after day he would pass obviously struggling people waiting for buses, pushing carts or loaded-down bikes, and just trying to find shade from the brutal heat here. In the midst of watching this scene unfold repeatedly he felt God push ask him how he might love those neighbors. The answer that immediately came to mind was cold water. The public water or water in the parks of downtown Fort Myers is warm and nasty and not a relief for hot, tired people. The question then was how. It’s not practical to walk, and it’s very difficult to pull over a car every time you see someone in need (not to mention it would freak people out). After chewing on this question for a few weeks the light finally came on: bikes! If the bikes were outfitted to carry coolers you could get around quickly and approach people naturally (well, as natural as can be when you are doing something weird like this).

We then had the pleasure of finding a local bike shop, The Bike Route Inc., who wanted to help us out. Their team agreed to provide four bikes at no cost to us; we just paid for tune ups and the gear (thanks Bill, you’re the man!). So we had the bikes, we got some supplies, and that’s how the Good Samaritan Cycling Team began!

As you can imagine, it has been a very interesting experience (to say the least) . . . we’ve done lots and lots of learning, seen many new relationships develop, and have found God at work in downtown Fort Myers. Over the next series of posts, I will share a handful of experiences from our rides and a few takeaways  from the ministry thus far.

We've definitely upgraded the cooler since beginning!

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