By Justin Hanneken - Ends Cycling Crew
In June 2018, I joined 2 friends on days 6+7 of the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) - an effort to see what this classic ride was really all about. One of our EC CREW members, Paul M. came up and drove SAG (Support and Gear) for the 3 of us - which afforded him the great opportunity to meet Franklin, the Director of BRAG.
I remember Paul’s excitement like it was yesterday. He told Franklin about Ends Cycling and how we were partnering with RAGBRAI (Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) in Iowa to provide Praise & Worship during their tour. Franklin, a believer himself, expressed an interest of having Ends Cycling come on the Big BRAG in 2019 - their 40th-annual tour across the great state of Georgia.
Fast forward 11 months, and we were making our final preparations to go and serve the 1,000+ cyclists who would be on the course. Our friend Jayson Simonson from New International’s, Child Sponsor program would play LIVE MUSIC at the first rest stop each day. He’d use that platform to invite the cyclists to join us for Praise & Worship each evening, where he and Matt Crosson would lead us. Pastor William Givens from Buckhead Baptist Church signed on as our Tour Pastor and he would present a sermon each evening sharing the Good News of the Gospel. Finally, we’d hear testimonies and give BRAG-cyclists an opportunity to pray for the youth of the Philippines - the cause we were riding for. There was only one “problem” - so to speak...there were 9 of us on the team. It really, truly felt like there should have been a 10th person. So, we did what we always know to do - PRAY. We prayed week after week for God to send us some more people for the BRAG ride. And, we waited…
On May 20th, God answered our prayers. I got a one-sentence email from a brother in Christ/EC alumni, Marc Montgomery. It read:
Hey Justin, I was looking at the rides this year and was thinking about Iowa but are there any rides that you all are low on numbers and needing more cyclists to sign up for?
I was floored. I mean, really - who asks a question like that? I knew I needed to talk to Marc on the phone that same day. I enthusiastically pitched him the next 4 tours we had coming up, all the while hoping (and praying) he would pick Georgia. When I asked him, “did anything I say resound with you?” He replied, “Not really Justin - just put me where you need me.” “Can you be in Georgia in 10 days?” I asked. “Of course,” Marc said - and there you have it - our 10th man.
With very little time to train, and fundraise, Marc came on the 40th-annual BRAG and helped us in huge ways. Multiple nights he got up in front of crowds of people he didn’t know and testified to the goodness of Jesus in his life. His stories were powerful and impactful. The most impactful story, perhaps, was one that Marc told me personally. I found out, around the 5th day of BRAG, that Marc had previously planned a trip to Thailand that same week for vacation. His plans fell through but his airline ticket was non-refundable. Bummer. Marc was going to lose hundreds of dollars, but he took a chance. He called the airline and told them his situation - they replied, “Mr. Montgomery, that flight you had booked just got canceled by the airline - where do we refund your money?” Marc was floored. He immediately obeyed God by putting the money from the flight, directly toward his Bicycle Ride Across Georgia. We are so proud of Marc and thankful for his life and faith. Just 2 weeks after BRAG he showed up in TN and rode a day of the Wagon Wheel ride with us again. To God be the Glory for this dear brother - our 10th man.