TRIP 2009

Update #02 - January 20th
Americus, Georgia
264 miles (422 KM) since Jan 01st

It's been a little over two weeks since I've arrived back in Americus, Georgia. I've put a lot of thought into what happened during this last trip. A lot of things bothered me. One of the biggest things that still gets to me is the negative response that I get from some ministers that I come across during my trips.

No matter how many pieces of credentials that I carry (letters of references, newspaper clippings, ordination card, etc) I'm still not treated like an ordained minister that I am. I have been an ordained minister for ten years. When people hear that I travel around the country by bicycle, the people that I meet see me just as a transient homeless person. They do not want to come outside and see that the two-wheeled vehicle that I travel on is not a junky looking bicycle with tires going bald and my belongings in plastic grocery bags tied to the handlebars.

I am not looking for a hand-out. I have never and will never ask for money. I am quite content with the loose change that I find alongside the road, which I call Road Manna, and the occasional "Green Handshakes" or love offerings. The only thing that I ask for when I stop at a church is either permission to camp out in the church yard when the weather is nice or to be able to camp out in either a classroom or the fellowship hall when the weather is bad or cold. I am not needing to sleep in a bed every night, access to a shower (I can very easily take a sponge bath, shave, and brush my teeth with one water bottle.). I've got a good sleeping bag and my air mattress works pretty well for me.

There were two meetings with ministers that happened during this last trip that still bothers me. A week after Thanksgiving, I was coming into St. Francisville, Louisiana. I had ridden a little over 70 miles from Kentwoods, Louisiana. My goal for the day was to get to New Roads, Louisiana across the Mississippi River where I had made some tentative contact to stay at the First Baptist Church where I had stayed there before. It was getting late and I wasn't sure whether the ferry across the Mississippi River was still operating and whether it had shut down for the day. I would have had about fifteen more rides to ride to New Roads.

On the eastern edge of St. Francisville was the First Baptist Church. There were several buildings there and I was hoping that maybe I could spend the night in one of them. I was happy to see that there were some cars in the parking lot and I hoped that it meant that there were people in the office and possibly the pastor was around. A guy who was coming out the church door told me that the pastor was still around and he gave me directions to the church office.

Outside the church office were two chairs so I sat down in one and saw through the open door that the pastor was talking to a guy about cars and hunting. They were joking and I heard this because they were talking pretty loud. The pastor who was an older gentleman seemed to be be in a good mood. After about ten minutes the two of them came out of the office door and into the hallway. When the pastor saw me, his face turned from a smile into a frown. Instead of inviting me into his office, he sat down in the chair opposite me under this big picture of the Messiah.

I explained to the pastor who I was and I what I was doing. I showed him my letter of references, my newspaper clippings, and a handout flyer that I give out. I told him that I had planned to get to the First Baptist Church in New Roads where I had hoped to stay since I knew one of the associate ministers but I wasn't sure that I could make it into New Roads before dark and I was just hoping to be able to borrow a floor for the night to put down my sleeping bag. I also told him that the night before I had stayed in the First Baptist Church in Kentwoods, Louisiana.

Almost immediately after I stopped talking, the pastor in very much of a rude voice told me that I had to move on. There was no way that he would allow me to stay in one of the classrooms for the night. He told me that there was a motel in the area but since the owner never gave him a special rate before he couldn't get me a room. I wasn't looking for a room. All I wanted to do was to use a piece of floor. His final words to me before he closed his office door on me was to move on to Baton Rouge where there were shelters. Baton Rouge was almost 45 miles to the south and way off my route. There were really no towns along the way between St. Francisville and Baton Rouge.

There was no way that I was going to go to a shelter. I've had to many problems staying at one of these places no matter how nice or safe people say these places are. I never get any sleep when I have to sleep with other people and things turn up missing off of my bicycle even if my gear and bicycle and gear is put in a supposedly secure room. I have had staff members rummage through my things when they shouldn't have and I've lost money that I had hidden in a secret pocket in one of my panniers that couldn't have been found unless you take things out of the pannier.

The biggest reasons why I will not ever, ever go to a shelter again is that several years ago at a shelter in New Mexico I was sexually assaulted. This is hard to admit by someone who was almost 50 years old at the time. I have a boyish face and I look like I am in my late 20s or 30s when my hair is longer. In the middle of the night, the two other guys who were in the room with me assaulted me. While one guy held me down and covered my mouth with his hand, the other pulled down my underwear and started to fondle me. It was really lucky for me that they didn't go any farther when they saw that I wasn't going to give in. I put up a bit of a fight.

I got myself and my gear out of that room as fast as I could and spent the rest of the night huddled in a corner of the front room and looking out the window and praying that morning would come soon so that I could get my recumbent out of the back yard, get out of there, and not have to deal with anybody there. I was too embarrassed to say anything to the shelter staff and of course I didn't go to the police to tell them what had happened. This is only the second time that I expressed this in a written form since I've been keeping this secret.

I didn't have any way to talk to the pastor of the First Baptist Church outside of St. Francisville, Louisiana after he shut the door of his office on me. I got back on my recumbent and quickly made it to the ferry landing a couple of miles west of town. The ferry was coming across the Mississippi River and I found out that this would have been the last westbound run for the day. If I had talked to the pastor any longer or had stopped at another church in town, I would have missed it.

I arrived in New Roads a little before dusk and made my way over to the First Baptist Church. There wasn't anybody around. I stopped at the police station but nobody knew how to connect with a local minister. I was pretty fortunate that there was a friendly priest and the main Catholic Church who let me stay in the parish hall for the night since he wasn't able to connect with the owners of the nearby motel who might have been out of town for the night. The reception that I had gotten from the priest was one hundred and eighty degrees opposite from what I had gotten from the Baptist minister.

The second pastor who really got to me was at the Independent Baptist Church outside of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This happened the day after Christmas. I had ridden almost 70 miles from Pearlington, Mississippi. If my memories and my logs were correct, I had stopped at the church possibly twelve years earlier and I even got the chance to speak at the Sunday morning service. It was almost 5 PM and I had seen some kids riding some bicycles around the church parking lot. There were five buildings there since the church was also running a Christian school.

There was a group of about six adults and four kids when I pulled in to where they were. I am assuming it was the pastor of the church who spoke to me. He told me that there was already some people staying in the churches' prophet's den (one of the buildings that they had turned into emergency housing after Hurricane Katrina). I asked if there was a chance to maybe borrow a room in another building so that I wouldn't bother the two families already staying in the prophets den. The pastor said no since it would have been a liability issue. There was really nothing but marshland between Ocean Springs and Gautier, Mississippi. The only option that I had was to camp out behind some bushes in a small piece of dry land behind the Methodist church. I didn't get much sleep that night because I wasn't too far away from busy U.S. 98 and a railroad.

Here were two ministers who somehow had their hearts disconnected from their brains. They seemed to be serving two masters (G-D and their insurance brokers) and it seemed that the insurance brokers were taking precedent. Didn't the pastor of the Baptist Church outside of Ocean Springs understand whose birthday we had just celebrated the day before? Did the pastor of the First Baptist Church outside of St. Francisville, Louisiana forget who's picture he was sitting under? Did we not have the same boss and leader of our lives?

Would the Messiah turn somebody away? Our Messiah is all about compassion.

He talked about how we needed to treat others as we would have like others to treat us. The latter part of Matthew 25 (31 - 46) talks about how we are going to be judged on how we treated others and this determines if we are really going to make it into Heaven at the final judgment. The Messiah says that if you see somebody thirsty - you give them something to drink, hungry - you give them something to eat, without clothes - you give them something to wear, homeless - provide them a place to stay. What you do to others you do it as if your are doing it for the L-RD. This is one of the true indicators to see if you are really one of the true sheep of the L-RD's flock or are you one of the goats who will have the same punishment as the Devil. In many versions of the Bible, this section of verses is called the "Final Judgment".

This year when I come across another "pass-off" minister I am not just going to keep my mouth shut, bite my tongue, and shake the dust off my feet at the end of the parking lot before I leave. I am going to say something. I am going to ask the pastor if they really understand what they are doing. I am going to ask the pastor if the L-RD was really his boss and if they understood Matthew 31-46. I am going to tell them that if they feel that the L-RD is present when two or more are gathered the L-RD is going to be walking out of the door with me when I leave and I hope that the minister would get down on their knees and pray that the L-RD would forgive them.

My question for you is whether you see yourself as a sheep or a goat. I am hoping and praying that the answer is that you are a sheep. welcome to the flock.

I'm going to probably stay off the road till at least the latter half of March or the first of April.

The next update should be between Jan 27 and February 03.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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