July 11, 2014
Last Saturday, Laurence Balcombe, Rudd and I (Taras Telkovsky) cycled from Richmond Park to Land’s End (325 miles in total) with two support cars, driven by Neil Warland and Steve Marmion. We were doing it for the support of three Christian projects:
1) The Barnabas Fund for persecuted Christians worldwide
2) Contagious Youth Camps
3) New Land Church, Belarus (My home church, where I will be returning next year).
The journey took 25 hours in total, 22.5 of which were spent cycling (at an average speed of 15 miles an hour) with three main pit-stops to top up on water, food and change our wet clothes. The journey was incredibly exhausting, especially during the night. Our bodies would usually be sleeping, but instead they were having to carry us up a hill for 10 long minutes, with only a few minutes downhill rest before the next hill, and starting all over again.
At 2.40am, I honestly believed I would give up. My energy levels had dropped severely, to the point where every minute it was more and more difficult to stay awake. My brain had literally stopped controlling my body – Not exactly safe, but somehow I managed to keep going.
When the morning came, and I was cycling through severe pain in my muscles, I began praying and asking God for the strength to finish. It was then I saw an amazingly beautiful rainbow in the sky. Dawkin’s explanation of this would end at Physics, but for me it was encouragement from God.
I would love to share some of my experience/highlights and lessons that I have learnt. If truth be said, the only thing I was thinking about for most of the ride was the need to keep going. In fact, when Laurence was talking to me, all I really wanted to say was: “I don’t care – I need to keep going.” ☺ But, these important lessons came to me later, after I had received the sleep and food I needed!
Lesson 1. Achievement is the team’s, not the individual’s.
I used to be a professional runner. Therefore, I know that once you reach the finish line it is very easy to be deceived in thinking that it is your achievement. But, in reality, it is usually the achievement of a team, who deserves the glory. In this case, it belongs with the Church, the body of Christ.
With this is mind, I’d like to share a few examples:
Before the journey I even didn’t have a bicycle. When Laurence and I shared with some people in the church about our plans, Neil Warland generously offered me his bicycle to use. While I was training for the journey I crashed it. I thought it was the end of the story, but Neil gave me another one, on which I successfully completed the challenge.
Steve and Neil were carrying all the food, water, clothes, spare parts and whole bicycles in their cars. It would simply be impossible to do a challenge like this without it. Cycling for 25 hours required our mental stamina, which was lifted during these stops where Neil and Steve would cheer us up, and cheer us on. At one stop Neil even massaged our exhausted muscles, which brought some freshness back to the body.
At night time, Steve drove behind us to illuminate the dark road, and in the last morning leg, when I was cycling alone (Laurence and Rudd unfortunately had to pull out), he carefully drove in front, breaking the wind and helping me conserve any energy I had left.
It would be incredibly proud of me to say, that this is my achievement, because without all this help I simply would not have finished the journey. So, this challenge has become quite a foundational lesson for me.
We often ask for support and prayer from our Church family, but often when something good comes our way (a new job, an answer to prayer etc.) we fail to see and share it as a joint effort. The truth is that, without God’s family, I wouldn’t be able to do many things in my life. I need to constantly remind myself of that, and remember that any results I see belong to the body of Christ, and not to me alone. I must not forget to thank people for their support, encouragement, prayer, sources, wisdom, fellowship which enabled me to keep going.
Lesson 2. To God be the glory.
It is very clear from Scripture that the life of the Christian should be spent glorifying God in all that we do. (1 Cor. 10:31). The big question in my head before the journey was – How can I glorify God through this journey? When it seemed that everything would be about us, and not God.
One way of glorifying God with our lives, is to have and show gratitude for all things. So:
– I am grateful for the church support, especially for Neil and Steve’s sacrificial service.
– For my body and abilities to finish the journey.
– For the safe journey.
– For all the money that people have given to the projects.
Lesson 3. Never wait for pure motives.
Even though I mentioned that we wanted to do this for God’s glory and to support our brothers and sisters in Christ, I cannot say that my own motives were 100% about this. I know that some people refrain from doing good, because they doubt the sincerity and genuineness of their motives.
The truth is that, while we are in these sinful bodies here on Earth, we can never have absolutely pure and godly motives. We will always have mixed motives – part selfish and part godly.
This is not an excuse for not doing anything for Christ!
But the good news is – you don’t have to be nutters like us and cycle to Lands’ End!
Spasiba (Russian for ‘Thank you’)