The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Moberly, Missouri recently hosted a bicycle giveaway, sending 150 children home with new bicycles just in time for Christmas.
Church members had been praying that God would reveal to them new and meaningful ways to serve their community, when Pastor Vandeon Griffin, associate director of youth and young adult ministries for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, reached out to Moberly church pastor Jody Dickhaut with a proposal. If the church would host a bicycle giveaway, the NAD would provide 50 bicycles as part of its Touch 10K Challenge, an initiative to make meaningful connections with 10,000 people across North America on a single day each year.
The plan was to distribute tickets to the first 150 families to arrive at the event, then draw 50 winners. But that didn’t sit well with Sonja Dickhaut, Pastor Dickhaut’s wife. Convicted that no one should go away empty-handed, she shared her concerns with the church and members continued to pray.
When Pastor Griffin arrived in Moberly a few days before the event, he shared that he had mentioned the Moberly Bike Giveaway to some conference leaders at a dinner, and several of them had pitched in enough funds for an additional 50 bikes. That, along with one additional bike donated by the local Walmart, brought the total to 101. Sonja was still concerned about the shortfall, so Pastor Dickhaut reached out to one of their friends who immediately pledged an additional 10 bikes. Funds from other donors poured in, and by the Friday before the event they were short only 14 bikes. As the sun got lower in the sky, members watched as five more bikes became 10, then 12, with the final two bikes coming in just before sunset. Their prayers were answered just in time!
On the day of the event excitement was high for the more than 40 volunteers, as well as the families waiting in line. The families were directed through the registration process where they redeemed their parking token for a ticket. Then the much-anticipated event began with a few remarks from Pastor Griffin, a short Christmas message from Pastor Dickhaut, and a joyous Christmas song with the attendees. Then the drawing commenced, and the bikes were carefully selected one-by-one.
“As I looked around, I began to recognize several of my students from the public elementary school where I taught last year,” said church member Jolene Johnston. “One little boy who received a new bike had been riding a bike with no seat to school.”
“Now, I have a way to get back and forth to work,” said one young man who received a new bike. He had lost his transportation and was given a ride to the event by one of the volunteers.
“Several parents came to give us hugs, some with tears streaming down their cheeks, thanking us for providing this bike giveaway,” said Dana Diede, event leader and chair of the school board. “Many weren’t going to have much of a Christmas for their child, and this was making all the difference.”
One such young mother shared how her daughter’s birthday was always overshadowed by the Christmas celebration, and it was hard to cover both gifts as money was tight. This year, however, the daughter was able to select a bike just for her birthday that was even her favorite color!
“I think it’s doing more for us than for the community,” Pastor Griffin said. “When you touch someone’s heart with no strings attached, it makes you feel like you can keep doing this—like you need to keep doing this. I love being able to pay it forward.”
As the event concluded, one bike remained. When the mother of one of the volunteers came to pick up her son, she shared that she knew a family whose 12-year-old girl was facing a meager Christmas. Her mother was on family medical leave, taking care of the child’s father who is dying from cancer. The single remaining bike was a beautiful, pink 20-inch girl’s bike, perfect for her.
The Moberly church thanks all the volunteers, donors and everyone else who helped make a difference for these 150 families.
“That’s really what this is all about,” said Pastor Dickhaut. “Can we meet every need? No. But, can we make a difference to somebody? Yes. That’s what’s important—making a difference to at least one, because one really does matter.”