A Christian cycling group has reached a major milestone, raising a million dollars to fund youth groups.
A major accomplishment has been achieved by the Christian cycling group called Ends of the Earth Cycling, a coalition associated with the New International missions group. Earlier this month, the group completed its goal of raising $1 million for youth ministries all over the world.
"Eight years ago, we set a goal to raise $1 million," Ends of the Earth Cycling executive director Justin Hanneken explained, as per Christian Standard. "This month, we just met our goal."
The idea for the Christian cycling organization started in 2011, when Hanneken's boss at New International urged him to establish a bike for youth pastors as a way to cultivate fellowship. Since the establishment of Ends of the Earth Cycling, the Christian cyclists have organized up to 43 cycling tours in 35 states, where they continue to raise funds for international youth ministries. Every tour covers about 300 to 500 miles and lasts between five to seven days. About 1,300 cyclists have participated in the events by cycling or supporting team members.
"It really is a mission trip. The cycling is really kind of a tool," Hanneken explained. Ends of the Earth Cycling's first event was held in Myers, Florida, where cyclists biked 300 miles to Key West, Florida. At the time, only 12 riders and one support member participated and the organization raised $7,700. The group then used 10% of the funds to continue the program then donated the rest of the money to a youth ministry in Bulgaria.
"In that moment, Ends of the Earth Cycling was born," Hanneken recalled. Matt Hagsten, who was one of the 12 Christian cyclists in the first Ends of the Earth Cycling event, wrote in the blog in 2021 that his decision to join the group was "one of the best and most profoundly impactful" he had ever made in his entire life, as it was where he met his wife.
"At the beginning of the week we were twelve strangers who wanted to ride bikes and change the world. At the end of the week we were a family who knew each others' strengths and weaknesses-both as riders and as people," Hagsten shared. "We were on [a] mission together, and the resulting community was infectious. As we rode, prayed, worshiped, and testified together, it was a real glimpse for me into what I had hoped and longed for the church to be."
Just one year later, 30 cyclists participated in the riding event and raised $45,000. Through the years, the group continued to hold such events and this year, they were able to raise $1 million by hosting bike tours in all 50 states.
According to the Christian Headlines, Ends of the Earth Cycle is also set to host a tour in Vermont in July. It will be its 36th state in which they hold fundraising cycling events. In September, they are set to host a tour in Alaska, its 37th state.
"The U.S. has 90 percent of the world's youth ministry resources, and only 4 percent of the world's youth," Ends of the Earth Cycle's website states. "Ends Cycling believes everyone deserves the same access to the Gospel, and we're willing to go to the ends of the earth to see that vision fulfilled by the power of Christ."