RATK 2017: The Finish

Today was the final day of the ride! Hard to believe it’s already over!

We had a couple injuries today and some riders were feeling the build-up of the past few days putting strain on their bodies, but it was a joyous finish. Some riders expressed disbelief that they had really made it all the way to Seoul, and we really appreciated the people who came out to cheer the bikers onto the finish! 

 The bikers, support crew, and those who came to cheer us to the finish!

The bikers, support crew, and those who came to cheer us to the finish!

Our journey across Korea wasn’t easy. It was full of weather changes, various emotions, limitations, and challenges, but making it through together, giving each other strength, and sharing our hearts with one another was a beautiful experience. 

May the strength and passion we poured into this journey be a sign to those in darkness that they have not been forgotten. And in more practical ways, may this event bring more awareness to the plight of those in Korea who are enslaved and oppressed! (For more information, click here.)

mountain scene

Thank you so much to everyone who prayed, who gave, and who came out to welcome us in Seoul. Your support means so much to us! If you would still like to give, you can do so here

Until next year!

RATK 2017: Day 3 - Mountain Day!

Yesterday we had a successful mountain day! 

The riders biked a total of 145km, already a long day, but the most challenging part of the day came in the morning when they went up a mountain trail of 5 kilometers of steady incline. For some of these bikers, climbing the mountain seemed like a nearly impossible feat, but all the bikers made it to the top!

mountain top group pic

We were proud of all the bikers, and many of them seemed quite euphoric at their accomplishment. Mountain day was even more than a day of physical accomplishment, however. God spoke to many of us through this act of perseverance. 

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One biker shared that as she was leading the way up the mountain, she started thinking about Jesus and the lonely path he took up to the cross. As her leg hurt with each pedal, she thought about the pain he endured. All along the way, she had support team members cheering her on and giving her strength, but Jesus had no one. Another shared that when her husband hung back to bike with her at her pace, she was reminded of the way that God limits Himself to walk with us at our pace, the way a father chooses to walk at the pace of his toddler. I personally was moved by the bikers’ perseverance. Seeing them push themselves to their limit, I was inspired to continue to fight for hope in areas that seem impossible.

jersey

The sun was shining and the road smooth, and many bikers said they had opportunities to share about the cause with people they encountered on the path. They said many were curious about their jerseys and more receptive than they expected. One man even had advice of his own about how the sex industry could be dismantled in Korea.

Sometimes fighting against sex trafficking can seem like an impossible task in Korea, because certain mindsets are so ingrained in the culture. But as one biker shared during our evening gathering, though we may not always be able to convince people to change their mindsets in the moment, us taking this stand and declaring something different––the worth and value of all people––is powerful. Each little part of awareness we bring and every small stand we take is a small step to changing the culture of this land.

RATK 2017: Day 2

rice field

On Day 2 we saw a lot of sunshine and a lot of answers to prayer!

In the evening we had a chance to share as a group, and one rider shared that he wanted to give up and go home the first part of the day because his knees were hurting so badly. At lunchtime, however, he received prayer and his knee was fine afterwards! Another biker shared how the team's prayers gave him the strength and fortitude he needed to make it through the last round of hills in the afternoon.

 Team Justice

Team Justice

The first night, John-Michael shared about the power of family, and one of the beautiful parts of this trip is seeing strangers become family as we take care of each other on the bike teams and amongst the support crew.

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Yesterday was the longest day for the bikers, distance-wise. They covered 153 km! There were a couple flat tires and one pretty badly scraped knee, but all the riders were able to finish out the day strong on the their bikes! I personally was inspired seeing how eager many of the injured bikers were to return to the trail and their teams. 

The support crew has also been working hard, preparing amazing meals and giving the riders energy through our cheers and smiles. :)

Today is mountain day! The bikers will be biking approximately 145km, including a morning mountain climb of over 5km of constant incline. Pray for strength and joy over the riders as they push through! Pictures to come!

RATK 2017: The Start

Yesterday we successfully completed the first day of the 6th Ride Against Traffic Korea! The 27 bikers set out from Busan at 7:30am after all 45 of us (bikers plus support crew) joined together for a time of prayer for Korea and the ride. Our aim in doing this ride is to raise awareness about the issue of sex trafficking and prostitution in Korea, to raise money to combat sex trafficking, and to ride and pray together as an act of spiritual warfare, declaring God’s goodness and power over this land.

prayer circle

John-Michael encouraged us all to ask God for His heart for Korea as we biked and served throughout the day. As we joined hands in a large circle to pray, I felt awakened. God’s heart burns for this country, to see all who are oppressed freed, to see the broken healed, to find all those who are lost. He loves this land, and I could feel His pleasure over our humble gathering.

 Group shot before the bikers took off!

Group shot before the bikers took off!

The day was cloudy and rainy, so the bikers had to navigate some dangerous patches in the trail, but while there were a few spills and some minor injuries, we stayed strong in mind and heart! 

Day Four (The Last)

The last day began dismally. Gray clouds claimed residence of the sky overnight, and began releasing droplets of rain by early morning. Riders were instructed to travel with great caution as mud, puddles, and slippery roads could lead to unwanted accidents. Though the rain grew heavier throughout the first half of the day, the Lord’s grace was so thickly upon each team that all the riders arrived to the lunch checkpoint without a scratch. Cars were packed with riders throughout lunch as they warmed their soaked bodies with heating and cups of ramen soup. Definitely an experience to remember by both riders and the support crew!

            After lunch, the riders finished their 158 kilometers for the day by arriving in Seoul. The bright sun and blue skies seemed to embrace the riders as they rode into Banpo Hangang Park to the much anticipated cheers of their loved ones. Tears, laughs, and hugs were shared as riders and support crew alike comprehended the journey they had just accomplished over the past four days.

            Through the ups and downs of this year’s Ride (literally), Jesus had carried us with His praise continuously on our lips. Though all of us signed up for reasons that varied individually by a degree, God brought us together as one family to fight for His justice and anticipate His glory upon the sex trafficking industry in this nation. Our hearts are full of song and full of hope to see His hand change the nation of Korea.

Thank you for joining us in prayer for the past four days, the 540 kilometers from Busan to Seoul, riding against sex trafficking in Korea. We made it! 

 

 Lunchtime set-up to protect food from the rain.

Lunchtime set-up to protect food from the rain.

 Heated vans = perfect place to keep warm!

Heated vans = perfect place to keep warm!

 Tom's waterproof shoes.

Tom's waterproof shoes.

 Team Justice praying before the last half of the ride.

Team Justice praying before the last half of the ride.

 Last stretch before Seoul!

Last stretch before Seoul!

 Rona and Tine, sisters in Christ, sharing a moment after completing the Ride.

Rona and Tine, sisters in Christ, sharing a moment after completing the Ride.

 Joy and Jojo rejoicing together over the finish!

Joy and Jojo rejoicing together over the finish!

 David's post-Ride meal (yes, all three dishes were his). (:

David's post-Ride meal (yes, all three dishes were his). (:

Day Three

The morning carried an especially peaceful vibe as riders and support crew started their day at 8AM—two hours later than what we had grown accustomed to over the past two days. This peace was crucial as the riders would be beginning the day’s ride accomplishing a 5 kilometer climb up a mountain followed by another 3 kilometer climb.

            Courage and determination firmly secured, the riders set out for the foreboding climb. Half of the support crew traveled up and down the hill, earnestly cheering the riders on. The riders never gave in to the day’s giant, and one-by-one, steadily reached the top of the mountain, triumph shining on their faces. There was much to rejoice over: the riders had overcome the mountain, God had favorably cast cloudy weather throughout the climb, and awe-inspiring scenery at the top created an amazing backdrop for photos. Lunch time exuded with victory.

            Today’s riding ended rather quickly as the riders were only expected to achieve about 90 kilometers. By 5PM, all the riders arrived at the pension, stomachs ready for a dinner of chili and ramen (tastier than you’d imagine!).

            In the evening, riders and support crew split into teams and shared reflections from the past three days. Afterwards, we all gathered together to share with the group. Team Justice spoke on the significance of the song “It is Well” by Bethel for their team. One member realized that the physical up hill and down hill battles they had faced during the ride paralleled the ups and downs of everyday life. However, just as God was good in those situations during the ride, she realized that all was well even when faced with life’s ups and downs. Team Freedom Fighters recognized the beauty surrounding them throughout the ride, but then realized that God’s heart for victims of sex trafficking is exponentially more beautiful. And He is still worthy despite what might occur.

            One support crew group mentioned what a blessing it was to have thrived in such a family-like atmosphere for the past three days. Many siblings, married couples, and parents and children had participated on this ride, but regardless of biological connections, we had acted in unison, tending to one another like family. And at that moment, we were not defined by our roles and experiences these past three days, but we stood as one heart, striving after His justice for this nation.  

 

 Little Charlotte leading the riders down the muddy hill.

Little Charlotte leading the riders down the muddy hill.

 Team Guardian at the first checkpoint.

Team Guardian at the first checkpoint.

 Rona and John moving rocks off to the side of the road in case of an accident!

Rona and John moving rocks off to the side of the road in case of an accident!

 Riders reaching the top of the hill.

Riders reaching the top of the hill.

 Breathtaking view at the top.

Breathtaking view at the top.

 Tom's drone that flew along with us over the past three days. 

Tom's drone that flew along with us over the past three days. 

Day Two

            Day Two proved to be significantly smoother than Day One. The riders achieved 160 kilometers and about five hills. The relatively flat trails in the morning brought the riders to the first two checkpoints in smiles and great timing. Lunch was an early highlight of the day as riders and support crew munched on delicious tuna sandwiches, pear slices, and homemade rice balls. An amiable spirit enveloped the lunch grounds as chatter and laughter embraced. Many riders spent their rest periods dousing their aching muscles in pain relief spray (“pas”), yet their physical pain could not penetrate their spirits.

            The second half of the day presented more arduous climbs than the first half had reassured; however, the breathtaking scenery and growing camaraderie within teams overpowered the climbs. This was evident in the many team selfies that surfaced on social media today. After another challenging day, the riders (and support crew!) were rewarded with mouth-watering Korean BBQ and cheerful conversations throughout dinner. Crew members and teammates were able to trade humorous and memorable moments from the day, solidifying this ride as one to be dearly remembered.

            Tonight, during prayer and worship, Pastor John-Michael shared the heart behind Isaiah 66:7-8 for Korea. At times, we may view this nation as slow-changing—even hopeless—yet as Israel was historically able to become a nation in one day, so Korea too can rise victorious in the course of a day through the Lord. Circled inside a parking lot situated in a neighborhood prone to prostitution, this message impacted all of us powerfully. We ended the night responding in prayer—a hurricane ready to spread, sweep, and destroy the Enemy’s throne. 

 Foggy start to the day.

Foggy start to the day.

 Short meeting at checkpoint 1 for Team Life.

Short meeting at checkpoint 1 for Team Life.

 Awesome support crew member Ted leading the men in stretches.

Awesome support crew member Ted leading the men in stretches.

 Jojo getting some rest in under the sun. 

Jojo getting some rest in under the sun. 

 Team Glory's leader Jee getting ready to go!

Team Glory's leader Jee getting ready to go!

 Food and laughs at checkpoint 3.

Food and laughs at checkpoint 3.

 Woohoo! Team Freedom Fighters!

Woohoo! Team Freedom Fighters!

 An impactful message by Pastor John-Michael to end the night.

An impactful message by Pastor John-Michael to end the night.

Day One

What a fiery first day! The riders accomplished 140 kilometers and six mountains, but those kilometers were not without their own particular challenges. Divided into six teams according to speed preference, the riders eagerly wiped the sleep from their eyes and set off with victory reverberating throughout their hearts. From the onset, however, the day carried the riders on an adventure brimming with trials. A broken chain was swiftly followed by two flat tires, and after lunch, a couple of minor injuries arose along with a small handful of more flat tires to supplement.

            Despite the physical trials tossed at the riders, they came streaming in to each checkpoint, exhaustion clinging onto the tailcoats of their overflowing joy and determination. Inarguably, they were not being propelled by their own will, but being led by the Holy Spirit. Team leaders consistently checked in with individual team members, and team members unashamedly encouraged each other during rest stops. Though only the first day when names are still being mentally imprinted and riding chemistry is forming between team members, each team still carried a spirit of humility, partnership, and support for one another. Even at the last checkpoint before arriving at the pension, the teams were told that the preplanned shortcut was now obsolete due to the construction of a new--possibly dangerous--major road. This meant the riders would have to add two more mountains and 12 kilometers to their last stretch. Despite the potential for an attitude of defeat, the riders chose instead to approach the challenge with joy and determination as they had maintained throughout the entire day.

            In the evening, after a hearty meal of grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, riders and support crew alike gathered together for our first worship and prayer session. Though plagued by exhaustion, riders and support crew were eager to share individually tailored appreciations and testimonies. Kristen Hendricks, a leader for Team Watchmen, soberly explained the flat tires that had hassled her team all day. She shared about an ahjusshi (elderly man) who approached their team after their third flat tire in the afternoon. He witnessed them pleading to Jesus for help, and attempted to repair what he could with his novice skillset. After it was semi-repaired, the team rode down the hill where, again, the same tire resulted in a flat. At that point, a man passing by rushed up to them, located a miniscule nail inside of the tire, and repaired it with astonishing speed. The previous ahjusshi who had witnessed their prayers and this quick repair by this man exclaimed how he should “love Jesus more, because He clearly answered your prayer.” Wow, praise God!

            Towards the end, Pastor John-Michael Becker shared Nahum 1:7 and repeated the first four words: “The Lord is good.” Despite our trials, it is His very goodness that allows us to worship and carry the Holy Spirit with us. This was sobering to hear on a particularly difficult day such as this one was. Though our bodies bear the physical toil of riding/supporting for four days, victims of sex trafficking are not given an expiration date for the physical toils on their own bodies. They suffer countless abuse, manipulation, and domination, yet they cling on for fear of their own internal brokenness consuming them more than these external influences. We were not consumed today and will never be consumed for the next three days, because we know the Lord is good and have tasted His goodness. But what about the victims of sex trafficking? So we ride, trusting that our prayers throughout the ride will sow seeds of His goodness into their hearts and this nation. That through His goodness, those who are trafficked will not hear the inward groans of their dry bones anymore, but the burst of a new song spilling out of their mouths. A song that has tasted and seen, and now hopes. 

 Group photo all together before the start!

Group photo all together before the start!

 Introductions, team selections, and other announcements.

Introductions, team selections, and other announcements.

 Beautiful sunflowers lining a cloudy day.

Beautiful sunflowers lining a cloudy day.

 Teams riding into checkpoint 2 for lunch!

Teams riding into checkpoint 2 for lunch!

 Yummy sandwiches and exciting conversations for lunch.

Yummy sandwiches and exciting conversations for lunch.

Before the Ride

It’s 9:31PM and night has clocked in, dutifully watching over this peninsula. In just nine hours, we will be gathering together to begin our four-day ride against sex trafficking in Korea. Though separated by riders and support crew, our hearts will, nonetheless, all be riding on His irrepressible justice and arresting mercy throughout the climb from Busan to Seoul. Join us in prayer as we sow seeds of change, as our tracks solidify His blueprint for His kingdom here, as we cry out for those whose own voices have been swallowed by their trespassed bodies.