So this is ride number 39. I am not getting any younger, and since I am not yet retired, my free time is not increasing. My theme again this year is just ride and get through another year. Maybe I can retire after next year's (40th) ride. But even at this late sign up date, as I search for words to motivate myself and to inspire you give generously; I am reminded of 3 things. 1. God is still at work in this world to draw folks to Himself so he can lavish His grace on them. 2. CEM is in the business (quite effectively) of pointing damaged kids to God to feel His call of love and grace. As long as #1 is true, I cannot sit back idly and wish Him success. I must be a part of the search team in some fashion. I urge you to be on the Team too with generous donations to a worthy (yes He is) cause. Thanks again for your support of my pedaling efforts. ~Mike
Yes again, This is number 38. Sheesh!
July 12, 2020
Agony is 12 days away. I wish I could say that would be 10 training days. That is not to be. I may have had 10 training days this season. (an exaggeration, but not by much)
This is going to be most unusual Agony fundraising letter I have ever written. Mainly because it is the most unusual Agony I have ridden. When the current pandemic struck and our society came to a standstill, I don’t think any of us expected the impact to last this long. But now, as a result of so many restrictions and closures, this year’s Agony Ride will be a virtual event. CEM couldn’t get the county event permits.
Initially I was excited about that. I could watch riding videos for 24 hours… Tour de France reruns, Paris-Rubaix remixes, Olympic track competition. Then I found out I still had to get on my bicycle and peddle the miles and report my mileage online. Oh well.
Seriously though, as an essential service, CEM has continued to help disadvantaged young people throughout this entire health crisis. With health safety guidelines in place, “kids” with immense familial, relational, spiritual, emotional, and personal needs have been loved, taught, guided, disciple, counseled, encouraged, and tangibly shown the love and renewal of Jesus Christ. That work could not stop, because God’s love does not stop.
However, as with many faith-based non-profit funds have slowed and this Agony Ride fundraiser is as important as it ever has been in its 38 year history.
So, please consider a generous support of my feeble riding efforts so that these young people may continue tangibly experiencing the renewing, forgiving love of God.
Ride #: 38
Date: July 24/25
Goal: 150 miles
Weather: Likely daytime temps of triple digits.
Yes, Again. The 37th time.
For my faithful followers, you know this is both a solicitation for sponsorships and my equivalent of the proverbial Christmas letter. So, please donate to this great cause.
Last year on the morning of the Agony I attended a funeral for a fire fighter who was killed in a non-work related accident. It was a very emotional service. As a result I started the ride two and a half hours late. Starting out of sequence like that I was emotionally drained to start and never got my fuel intake or fluid intake properly managed. I bonked at least twice and truly the Agony lived up to its name.
Since that time I have changed jobs and now am the Senior Chaplain/Executive Director of the Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy. I the last few days prior to this writing, I have attended the line of duty funeral for SacramentoPD Officer Tara O'Sullivan and assisted the Sheriff with notifying a deputy's wife that he had died during a diving accident. That is kinda my life right now. I get called into service when there is some bad or fatal that has occurred.
In reflecting on that, I am reminded that Staff at CEM daily intervene with students for whom relational and spiritual death is knocking at the door. They have the privilege of bringing Life through Jesus and thwarting the victory of the Enemy. Your generous donation goes directly to keep that happening 24/7/365. Your pledge will allow dozens of young people to have the opportunity to choose Life over spiritual death this year. And next year we will do this again.
Please be generous, take a peek at the Ministry website and be encouraged by the great things happening in students' lives. Thanks; and GO B TEAM AGONY!!
The World Cup is well underway. Underdogs have survived. Favorites have fallen. The world awaits its Champion.
Two days from now the Tour de France will commence with stage 1. There will be pain, there will be anger, there will be elation, there will be road rash. In the end one rider and one team will emerge as Champions.
In both of these contests the world watches, it waits. Some cheer, some curse, others weep for grief or for joy. There is anticipation, drama, and excitement as entire nations are engulfed in a nearly desperate hope that their champions will emerge victorious.
Although the world has always sought a champion, it has not always watched the competition nor has it been aware of the most significant contests. Every day there are contestants engaged in a struggle, a winner-takes-all contest for their souls. Although this is universal, it is visibly, tangibly true at Christian Encounter Ranch.
Students, interns, and staff are daily countering the moves of the Enemy, seeking to shed the hindrances of hurt, guilt, pain. They charge up the mountain of God’s love seeking the polka dot jersey (climbing champion) of His Grace. They wait with hands clasped in prayerful anticipation as Jesus stands in goal fending off the penalty kicks of Satan, the Accuser.
All of this goes unobserved by a distracted world. But for 24 hours that changes in a microcosm called the Sierra Valley. For 24 hours riders compete, not against each other but against the elements and their own frailties. They do it not for a maillot jaune (yellow jersey) but to bring hope and love, tangibly, to young people who need encouragement to persist in their struggle toward healing. At the same time, the encouraged students are wildly cheering on their champions to that extra mile until that last minute.
These are the Champions of Grace, the riders, the saggers, the cooks and the record keepers of the Agony. This year’s ride is July 27-28. This is ride number 36. Although the financial survival of the Ranch (CEM’s residential facility) is dependent on the Agony Ride, it’s difficult to determine the most significant outcome of the Ride. Is it the money that God uses to keep the ministry solvent? Or, is it the motivation and hope it provides the students?
Regardless of where the answer lies in that question, I guarantee that your monetary and/or prayerful support of my pedaling efforts will significantly contribute to both. For my faithful supporters, thank you again. To my new supporters, welcome to B*-Team Agony. (*Boon)
Friends, B-Team Agony, I think this year’s theme is “DeJaVu”. This is my 35th Agony Ride. A rough count indicates that I have been over every inch of road, every pothole, every crevice in the pavement over 350 times in the last 30 years of this route. It’s all de ja vu.
Every year I have firm intentions of getting out my letter by June 1. And every year it’s after the 4th of July. More de ja vu. And every year I strain my brain to say something I haven’t said in the past 34 letters, and every year I try to come up with new excuses for the delay in sending this letter. I usually fail miserably at both. More de ja vu.
Well, just reminders then.
* Christian Encounter Ministries serves in a much needed way to those who are desperate for healing.
* The Ranch continues to produce amazing and heart-wrenching stories of young lives being turned around by God’s love, power, and grace.
* The Agony Ride is the largest single source of funds for CEM. And as B-Team Agony (B for Boon) sponsors you are participating in supporting a much needed, specific niche in the Kingdom of God.
* I once again come to you for prayer support and financial support while you ponder just how ridiculous I am for doing this again.
You have found my Agony page, check out the Agony video (very inspirational) and submit an online sponsorship or mileage pledge. (or you can send your pledge vial snail mail to
P.O. Box 1066
Grass Valley, CA 95945
A-lmighty G-od O-nly N-eeds Y-ou.
God owns, by nature of Creatorship, every resource in the universe, mineral and monetary.
He is self-sufficient and has no need of anything.
He neither hungers nor thirsts, sleeps nor seeks shelter from a storm.
But he desires you, wants you, has prepared for you.
In many respects this is what the Agony Ride is all about. Essentially it is what the students of the Christian Encounter Ranch come to hear and, hopefully, come to accept and own as their understanding of themselves and who God is. The Agony ride is simply a 24 hour demonstration of that message played out through the pedaling efforts of dozens of riders, and generosity of hundreds of sponsors.
Once again I come to you seeking your support of this effective and needed ministry.
This year has seen major changes at the Ranch. God infused new energy into the ministry through a new Director, Chuck Boatman. Although he had no plans to make any changes for a year, God thought better. Four major staffing changes have been made since January. All of them positive moves as God rearranged the resources of His Kingdom. As a board of directors we have renewed our commitments to influence, oversight, and support.
Personally life has gone crazy since the last Agony. Work at the University has become more challenging, ministry with the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy has become more significant and, with that, more time consuming, grandkids have become more active (which means more games and school activities to take up my Saturdays and evenings), and El Nino has brought much needed moisture to northern California (which means less good weather in which to ride). So, without making it sound too much like whining, it’s going to be a looong 24 hours of Agony. I will set my mileage goal at 200 miles, knowing that I haven’t paid my dues for that.
Please consider another year of support as we team together for this fantastic ministry.
The ride is 1:00 pm Friday, July 29th to 1:00 pm Saturday July 30th. If you receive this via snail mail, you can visit me online at ____ or mail in the attached sponsorship form.
Feel free to drop me a note or email at < firstname.lastname@example.org >.
Riding off into the sunset;
|Michael's Recent Events|
The three points in your “will you support me”?” e-mail we’re persuasively stated. Thanks for inviting us again to partner with you in the Lord’s work of redemption, reconciliation, salvation, etc. May God bless you with tireless legs!
Thank you for ALL. the work you do. Thank you for continuing to ride after all these years! And with your current Ministry of Senior Chaplain! .,,,, Awesome! Jim
Mike, thank you for riding all these years! Praying for your safety! Kimberly
You got this babe! We know without the efforts to endure this ride over the years, you would not still be alive! Pedal on at whatever pace you can!
Thank you for your willingness to give of yourself, your willingness to serve, your role model and inspiration to others. PRAYING for a safe ride.
It's hard to believe the Agony Ride is here again and you are riding in it again as well. I pray for you to feel good physically during those 2 days and you get the sleep needed. I would love to be there in person, but will attempt to follow on the website. Linda
We love you, Mike! May God bless your crazy soul! 39/39 Agony Rides, Wow! Looking forward to welcoming you into Vinton MANY times!
Wish I was there riding with you guys. Keep moving, the time is short. God will keep your legs strong and motivation secure. Stay focused on your goal.
I can't sleep during my sleep shift... So I'm continuing to pray for you sir. Stay strong in the courage of our Lord. Thank you Mike. Thank you
Your faithfulness and selfless giving is not unnoticed in the Kingdom. May every mile bring you blessings as it brings glory to God
Thank you for continuing to show up, year after year after year (after year after year after year ....). I'm grateful for your example of selfless love and obedience.