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;
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