By Lainee Pegelow

Why would six men ride their bicycles 165 miles in two days? A love of the Cooperative Program.

“We want to raise awareness of what the Cooperative Program is doing all around Arizona and all around the world, planting churches and sending missionaries,” said David Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention executive director and ride organizer.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the riders set out from First Southern Baptist Church, Tucson, the location of the 2017 Arizona Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, for Palm Vista Baptist Church, Surprise, site of the 2016 annual meeting.

They represented entities benefiting from the Cooperative Program — the AZSBC, Gateway Seminary and Arizona Baptist Children’s Services & Family Ministries — and Arizona churches that give through the Cooperative Program.

John Lake, pastor of Church on Randall Place, Pine, and a graduate and adjunct faculty member of Gateway Seminary, explained why he participated in this ride for a second year.

“The Cooperative Program has been a great blessing to me, because it has enabled me and my wife to get a great education and train our church and develop great leaders,” he said.

Pastor Robert Waldron of Christ’s Community in Sierra Vista, Arizona said, “I participated in this year’s ride because it raises awareness of the Cooperative Program and all that it does.”

During the two-day and many-miles-covered journey, friendships were strengthened and a picture of what it means to cooperate as Arizona Southern Baptists was demonstrated. Along the way, the men enjoyed each other’s company and depended upon each other for safety and strength.

Wes Baker, a member of Trinity Southern Baptist Church, Casa Grande, said he was excited to “ride for a great cause of missions.”

“The way we do it as Baptists is we cooperate together,” he said. “I’m so blessed to be a Southern Baptist.”

Each day, the ride was documented through updates and a nightly video recap posted through the AZSBC’s social media channels.

Other riders were Dallas Bivins, director of the Arizona Campus of Gateway Seminary, and Roger Daniels, vice president of Arizona Baptist Children’s Services’ New Life Counseling.

Arizona Southern Baptist churches have an amazing opportunity to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Cooperative Program giving enables us to be part of ministry close to home and to the ends of the earth. No matter where your church is located, or the size of your congregation, through the Cooperative Program, you can be part of reaching the nations, sharing the gospel and training future leaders.

At the conclusion of the ride, Johnson — surrounded by fellow team members wearing shirts emblazoned with John 3:16 on the back — signed off by saying “all of this was about getting out the word that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son to the whole world, all around Arizona and around the world.”

If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend this year’s annual meeting, or missed any of the ride updates, see the posts by “Arizona Southern Baptists” on Facebook, @azbaptists on Instagram and and @AZBaptists on Twitter.

To learn more about the Cooperative Program, go to http://iamcp.azsbc.org.