May 4, 2016

Adventist Church Touches Hearts of Colombian Cyclists

and Inter-American Division staff

Hundreds of cyclists pedaled through north Colombia during a special sports event organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in cooperation with the local governor’s office.

The aim: to promote exercise and share hope.

Norte Santander state Governor William Villamizar, his wife, and 40 local government officials joined about 300 local cycling enthusiasts and church members in riding 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Cúcuta to an Adventist-owned campground in the early morning.

As cyclists finished the course, they were welcomed by friendly faces, a healthy breakfast, massage stations, and a short ceremony at the Adventist Recreational Campground outside the South American city, which is located just across the border from Venezuela.

Villamizar thanked the Seventh-day Adventist Church for organizing and hosting the event.

“We think that these are good opportunities to promote healthy habits through sports activities,” he said.

The governor urged all religious denominations “to move forward with social programs such as the ones led by the Adventist Church so that we can all become a greater team for the development of Norte de Santander.”

Church members distributed copies of “The Road to Peace” (Camino a la Paz), also known as “Steps to Christ,” by Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White to the cyclists and government leaders.

Joel Jaimes, a local church leader, said the event was part of a series of activities under the North Colombia Union’s “Friends of Hope” initiative to reach communities.

“Through this Friends of Hope initiative, we have been able to reach the authorities, the private sector, the community, and now this specific group of cyclists,” Jaimes said.

“We simply organized the activity, and the governor’s office contacted the leaders of those cyclists,” he said.

The church has worked with the city and governor’s office previously. In 2014, it staged a city parade with seven floats, each representing a day of creation week, including the Sabbath. 

Read: In Colombia, Adventists Point to Sabbath With a 7-Float Parade

Last year, a senior local official appealed to other religious denominations to follow the Adventist Church’s lead after church members distributed more than 20,000 books on health and hope, conducted a health expo, and organized a race in which dozens of disabled people raced in wheelchairs.

Read: Colombia Governor Asks Churches to Follow Adventist Example

Earlier this year, church members distributed dozens of ready-to-plant trees in the city, and the governor’s office asked the church to lead a spiritual program during an event for more than 1,200 children.

Professional cyclists expressed delight that the church was promoting cycling.

“I’m excited to see how the Adventist Church is supporting the sport,” said cyclist Raul Saavedra. “This is the first church that has taken us into account.”

Another cyclist said she hoped for similar events in the future.

“Everything has been so special, from the support of our friends to get here, the friendliness, and the food,” Rubiela Amaya said as she prepared to get a massage. “I hope this activity takes place every weekend.”

Neftali Solano, a member of the Fuerte Pregon Adventist Church, said the event sought to share hope in addition to encouraging physical exercise.

“We want them to know that Adventists are not only in the church but we also take part in contributing to good health,” Solano said.