It was back in 1981 that the UK Conservative politician Norman Tebbit famously encouraged unemployed Britons to cycle to find employment. Over thirty years later and a bicycle is arguably still the most important ‘tool of the trade – after a bible – for a pastor or church planter in rural Malawi.
A bike is essential for pastors who can be looking after a church with maybe 4-8 prayer houses spread out over a radius of 2-3 hours walk. However, many of these dedicated men struggle to afford a bicycle. So for years supporters in the UK have given sacrificially so that ZM can gift bicycles to pastors (Its called the ‘Recycling a Pastor’ project!).
So we were pleased at the recent ZEC Pastors Conference to see first hand the excitement on the face of pastors as they saw ZM Field Director Simon Chikwana and Projects Officer Rose Chirwa drive up on day one with two pickup trucks full of brand new bikes.
The bikes are Indian made to an old colonial recipe by Avon Cycles, so they are built to last on the bumpy dirt roads of the majority world. They sport a double bar for rigidity, a crude but effective suspension mechanism on the front wheel, and a sprung saddle to take out the worst of the vibrations.
However, there was a lot of assembly to do before the bikes were ready – even the wheels needed to be assembled from hub, rim and spokes. Quite a task.
But eventually everything was ready for the end of the conference when many pastors were able to cycle off with a ‘new set of wheels’ to help them pastor their flock, proclaim the good news, and at the same time save a little shoe leather!