A Bicycle in Asia Means So Much More

A Bicycle in Asia Means So Much More February 8, 2018

Gospel for Asia (GFA) Report, Wills Point, Texas

My excitement and anticipation had never reached such a climax in all my eight years of life. I had seven birthdays already under my belt, but none would compare with this one. This birthday was sure to be archived in my future memory as the best birthday of my childhood; the story I would retell time and time again.

I confidently opened gift after gift, sure one of them would lead me outside to a long-asked-for-patiently-awaited bicycle. My parents had never been able to afford one before, and even though monetarily nothing had changed, I could feel in my bones that this was the year my dream would become reality. My senses tingled; a bicycle was close.

As I came to the last present, I held my breath as I tore open the wrapping. What? No bicycle? No note telling me to look behind the garage? No first clue to a treasure hunt ending in my parent’s room with a gleaming, two-wheeled beauty, hopefully in pink?

As doubt crept from my gut to my heart, I scanned the faces of my family assembled around me. As I searched from face to face in desperation, I landed on the smiling eyes of my aunt and hope sprang to life in my heart once again. She told me to close my eyes as she carefully led me out the front door. My heart pounded with each step on the gravel drive. My aunt uncovered my eyes, and I saw my beaming uncle come around the corner of the garage pushing the ugliest bike I had ever seen!

The giant pink bow on the handle bars could not hide the atrocity of the banana-seat bike before me. The bright yellow frame made the multi-colored giant daisies on the seat pop out. Giant daisies?! Something a 4-year-old would want?! As soon as I saw the bicycle, I burst into tears. Not only was my dream dashed, but I knew I would be stuck with the worst bicycle on the block for the rest of my childhood!

Now you may be wondering why I am sharing at such great length this painful childhood memory. As I remember and re-live the longing I had for my first bicycle, I am able to enter into the longing and anticipation of our brothers and sisters in Asia who dream of one day getting a bicycle of their own.

For me, a bicycle meant freedom, independence, maturity and neighborhood swagger. For those in Asia, a bicycle means something completely different.

Sandeep on his way to encourage believers with his wife and child - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Sandeep on his way to encourage believers with his wife and child.

Take Sandeep, for instance, a GFA-supported missionary serving in Asia. Several nights a week, Sandeep travels by bicycle to different villages to hold prayer meetings, teach believers and encourage them in their faith. In one village, Sandeep meets with a family who are the only Christians in their village. Everyone listens intently as Sandeep shares a message from the Bible. The message challenges the family to keep pursuing Christ even though they are not always accepted.

Sandeep also prays for the family. Their son, Patag, recently went blind. Sandeep prays that the Lord will heal Patag and that his testimony will have a great impact on the village. Without a bicycle, Sandeep might not have been able visit this village, as it was a long walk.

There are many other GFA-supported workers with similar stories like Purnendu, Raji and Dhumal. All three of these brothers are dependent on a bicycle provided by GFA’s field partners to fulfill their call from God.

Another way bicycles can significantly impact lives in Asia is enabling school children to get to school. Paramita was often late for school because of the four-mile walk from her home. Because of her tardiness and inconsistent attendance, she was demoted from eighth grade to seventh grade. Then, in 2015, Paramita received a bicycle at a GFA-supported Christmas gift distribution. Paramita was overjoyed,

“All my friends go to school by bicycle, and I wanted to have a bicycle like my friends. But I knew the difficulties that my parents have financially, and so I dared not ask them. But sometimes when I am alone, I used to feel discouraged and cry for my life. Now, my life is changed after getting the bicycle, because every day I go to school regularly, and I am not late, neither do I get tired. I am very happy.”

Paramita arrives at school on time with her new bicycle - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Paramita arrives at school on time with her new bicycle.

Bicycles also help daily laborers earn a living and support their families in a way that would simply be impossible otherwise.  Rajbir is a lean-framed farmer who carried vegetables to sell at the market on his back to provide for his family. Like Paramita, he was given a bicycle at a Christmas gift distribution.

“The Lord has been so gracious to me and provided me this [gift] free of cost,” Rajbir says. “I am so happy. Now I can carry all my vegetables from my garden to the market on this bicycle. I will be able to carry more. … I also will be able to take my children to school on this bicycle.”

A bicycle in Asia means so much more than here in the states. It can be the difference between a village hearing of the love of Jesus or remaining in ignorance of His coming. It can be the vehicle to a bright future for a child that might otherwise sink into uneducated poverty. A bicycle can enable a daily laborer to put bread on the table and clothes on his children.

The longing and hope for a bicycle is a longing for a tangible need that will dramatically improve daily life for the recipient. It is a gift that is truly appreciated.

I did end up living with the ignobility of that banana seat bicycle for years. While I never got over the slight embarrassment I felt every time a new friend saw it, I relished the adventures I was able to have with it. And while a bicycle was and is an object of recreation for me, I rejoice to know the practical blessing of a bicycle for our friends in Asia.

At GFA, we are motivated by a deep love to provide practical things like bicycles to radically impact an individual’s life. We are encouraged by the stories we hear of people like Sandeep and Paramita who praise God for His provision and care. We praise God with them, sometimes even from the seats of our bicycles.

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