Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Heaven on Wheels

Not an actual pastor - we discourage our pastors
from doing stunts 😉
The mountains of Western Honduras are now home to fourteen more indigenous pastor driven motorcycles! These “Heaven on Wheels” pastors represent seven different denomination from eight different departments (like small U.S. states).

Let’s Get this Project Rolling

This process started in June, when the Sowers got word of a funding opportunity for this ministry. The Sowers would like to say thank you to the Christian Motorcyclist Association, Missionary Ventures, Foundation for Missions, and Edgewater Alliance Church for their part in making this happen.

Pastors are selected based on who walks the greatest distance, who works the most hours, and who serves the most churches. It’s not unusual for a single pastor to have several churches and walk fifty or more miles per week. There was no shortage of candidates. As Russell said, “We could help hundreds of pastors who meet these requirements, but the limiting factor is the funding from the states.”

This year, in fact, they knew there was a possibility of getting funding for about ten new motorcycles through the Christian Motorcyclist Association. (The CMA ended up funding nine.) Yet, they had fourteen amazing candidates. So, of course, they did what Sowers do and took a leap of faith. Surprise! Then Allen sent out a plea to a friend at Edgewater Alliance Church, who helped present a proposal to their missions board to apply for the other five motorcycles.

Have Box Truck, Will Travel

Russell gave me the rundown on how they obtain the motorcycles. Once the funding is obtained, Russell contacts Honda and places an order. When the order is ready, he rents a large box truck and drives about five hours to the big city to pick up the motorcycles, helmets, and necessary paperwork. Then he makes the return trip with his precious cargo. Once he has them home, he tests each set of wheels to make sure they’re good to go. Then he calls the ecstatic new owners to come get their hard earned motorcycles.

A Lesson in Sweat Equity

Yes, I said, “hard earned motorcycles.” You might be thinking the motorcycles are given to pastors as an act of charity. You might be thinking wrong! I knew the pastors were expected to come up with a portion of the funding, in what Allen likes to refer to as sweat equity. I knew the bikes only go to those pastors who have demonstrated they are serious about their desire to own and maintain a motorcycle. As we’ve discussed before, it does no good to give a motorcycle to a pastor who can’t afford to keep it running. What I didn’t remember is how very much sweat equity is involved.

Each pastor pays 40% of the price of a motorcycle. That’s $640 toward the purchase of a $1640 motorcycle! Given their annual income, that is nothing short of amazing! By operating under the sweat equity guidelines, Sowers4Pastors is able to help more pastors receive much needed transportation. Instead of eight motorcycles, they provided fourteen, for the same amount of donated money. (Okay, there was a fraction involved there, but we’re rounding up!)

Allen pointed out that most missionaries who receive the motorcycle money pay for the full amount, with no investment on the part of the pastors. There have been instances of those pastors selling their motorcycles, rather than using them in ministry. But, for the pastors who have sacrificed so greatly, specifically in order to receive a motorcycle, their new wheels are a highly valued possession. It’s the difference between a child who is given a new bike and one who had to rake leaves and mow lawns in order to purchase a bike. That's a pastor who really wants, and will use, a motorcycle!

Not all pastors see a motorcycle as being worth this investment. Some would rather take their money and use it toward something like a sound system for their church, and that’s fine. But, for the pastors who choose to make this investment, they are able to expand their ministry area and be more efficient in their use of time.

In case you've paid attention to the ongoing tally: Sowers4Pastors has now distributed 180 motorcycles and 70 horses or mules for pastors, in total!

- posted by Christi

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