The autumn temperatures were nearly perfect as boys and
girls on bicycles, and some even on tricycles, whizzed around a quarter-mile
track this past October. Jay Westmoreland, longtime member of First Baptist
Church in Charlotte, and a team of volunteers clapped and cheered for the
children as they completed another lap for the event known as “Bike for
The group of dedicated children collectively rode over 200
miles that morning and later presented a check to Baptist Children’s Homes
(BCH) for $25,737.47.
Created in 2003, Bike for Change was conceptualized by Jay
Westmoreland as an outreach of First Baptist Church of Charlotte (FBC) to
provide a tangible mission opportunity for the children of FBC. Each year, the
participating children learn of the needs of Baptist Children’s Homes’
residents, pray for them, and promote Bike for Change as a way to provide
“Bike for Change is a terrific way to teach our church’s
children about the importance of missions outreach and helping others in the
name of Jesus,” Westmoreland explained. “When our church’s children learn
of the situations Baptist Children’s Homes’ residents have endured they realize
how blessed they really are. They want to roll up their sleeves and help.”
For FBC’s event, the church’s children ride their bicycles
in a designated area for a predetermined amount of time.
Church members support the children’s efforts by
participating in a special offering. At the end of morning worship, children
stand at the sanctuary exits and collect the offering in their bicycle helmets
as members leave.
“It has brought great awareness to our church about the
tremendous needs of Baptist Children’s Homes’ residents,” Westmoreland said.
“Our children have ignited a passion within our church, and the church members
have responded accordingly.”
Mark Harris, senior pastor at First Baptist Church, says
Bike for Change has increased interaction between the children and other age
groups at the church.
“I have known few other events that have created more
intergenerational ministry impact than Bike for Change,” Harris explains.
“First Baptist is making a greater impact because of Bike for Change.”
As the successful results of Bike for Change spread, other
Baptist churches in North Carolina decided to participate. In 2009, Elizabeth
Baptist Church of Shelby joined with First Baptist’s event. Children from
Corinth Baptist in Ellenboro and Providence Baptist in Charlotte came aboard to
help in 2010.
Additionally, other churches were encouraged to create Bike
for Change events at their own locations. Mt. Moriah Baptist in Raleigh held
its first event on October 2, 2010, and multiple churches from the South
Mountain Association in Vale came together in August.
“It has been a blessing to see other churches participate,”
Westmoreland said. “It’s my desire to see more North Carolina Baptist churches
duplicate Bike for Change.”
In order to help Bike for Change expand, Westmoreland is
providing guidance to any church wanting to begin its own event. A new web
resource, www.bikeforchange.org, was created last year in partnership with
Baptist Children’s Homes.
“It’s been exciting to witness the growth of Bike for Change
and to see churches come on board,” says Baptist Children’s Homes president
Michael C. Blackwell. “When the children in our care see other boys and girls
their age go out of their way to help, it makes an unbelievable impact.”
Blackwell says Bike for Change produces results that go
beyond making a difference financially.
“Nearly 70 percent of the children that come into Baptist
Children’s Homes’ care have no faith base whatsoever,” he said.
“The children who participate in Bike for Change are Christ’s
hands and feet in action. They are a powerful witness to boys and girls who
desperately need to know God’s love.”
Since the beginning of Bike for Change in 2003, elementary
age bikers have logged an estimated 1,600 miles and have raised more than $118,000.
Those proceeds provide warm beds, hot meals, clothing, and a home where the
children are safe. Most importantly, it empowers Christian houseparents to
introduce the residents to the love of Christ.
Savanna, age 15, became a believer after moving to BCH and
is thankful for Bike for Change.
“Every prayer that you have prayed and every dime that you
have given to this ministry makes a difference,” Savanna stated in a “thank
you” letter she wrote last year to Bike for Change participants.
“I should know. I am a life that has been forever
changed because of your actions.”
As spring approaches, Westmoreland hopes even more churches
will organize Bike for Change events this year.
“It’s hard to beat the blessing of seeing children reaching
out to help other children,” Westmoreland said.
“I believe Bike for Change is the perfect initiative for
church leaders who want to involve their children in a heart-changing
More information about Bike for Change is available at
www.bikeforchange.org or by contacting Jay Westmoreland at
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