In December 2017, I set the churches of Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest a challenge. I had met the Bishop of Marsabit, in Kenya, at the Bradwell Festival that year, and he’d told me that often a motorbike is the only way his clergy and church workers can get around on the rough tracks and un-made roads of his huge diocese. Hence the challenge: Could we raise the funds to buy a motorbike for a church worker in Marsabit?
Well, as I reported here last year, it took just four months for the people of those three boroughs, along with friends from further afield, to raise the £2,300 needed. As a result, it was my great privilege to be able to present a brand-new Yamaha 125 to a very happy Kenyan vicar when I was there in March 2018. The bike was equipped with all the rugged fittings needed for African tracks, and looked fantastic. It was immediately pressed into service, taking Silas, the young Vicar of Sololo the 200 kms back to his parish, close to the border with Ethiopia.
Before he left, Silas told me what a difference the bike would make to him. He has five congregations, the furthest of which is 75 kms from his home, so on some Sundays he has to cover at least 150 kms, mostly on rough tracks. So, not only has the bike made it much easier for him to travel to his diocese’s headquarters, but it is enabling him to carry out his ministry on Sundays, teach in schools during the week, and do far more than he was able to do before.
All this was made possible by the generous giving of lots of people, including children’s groups, prayer groups, in both big and small churches, and some who are not even church members.
The story didn’t end there, though. People caught the vision and early this year we were able to send the funds for a SECOND bike because of the donations sent in over Christmas. This bike, another Yamaha adapted for use in harsh terrain, is in use in Badasa parish, which is on the edge of the Marsabit National Park, with all its wildlife.
I had the pleasure of telling the clergy and churchwardens of East London all about it at a gathering in May. The result – a collection of over £700 that evening towards a THIRD bike! And then, to cap it all, I was presented with a cheque for £518 at St Margaret’s Church, Ilford, early in June, and another £100 came from the lovely people at St Edmund’s, in East Ham.
That means that we are now over half-way to being able to send our third motorbike to Marsabit. Allowing for local price rises, we’re looking to raise another £1,200 to make this possible.
Now I’m a keen biker myself – my current Triumph Bonneville is the latest in a long line of machines I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’m a member of the 59 Club, the famous bikers’ club that was founded in a church hall and was led for many years by Revd Bill Shergold. We celebrated the 60th anniversary at St Paul’s Cathedral recently, and I know that bikers are a generous lot and recognise a good cause when they see one.
So, for the next fund-raising opportunity, I’m going to be showing off my Triumph at the Open Day at St Mary’s Church, in Overton Drive, Wanstead, on Saturday, July 20th, between 11am and 2pm. If you’re a biker and would like to bring your bike along too, you’d be very welcome. Even if you’re not a biker but would just like to be pictured sitting on a fine machine, that’s fine. And, of course, we’ll be raising funds that day to enable another church worker in Marsabit to have a bike that will enable them to serve their people better.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to donate via our JustGiving page, you will find it here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/motorbikeformarsabit