Cyclist pedals 925 miles to visit Springs ministry

Cyclist Mark Bentley in front of his Winchester, Ill., home Photo by Courtesy of Mark Bentley

About 30 people welcomed the arrival Friday of an Illinois cyclist who pedaled 925 miles to visit Bibles for the World.

Mark Bentley completed the 14-day solo bike ride from Winchester, Ill., to raise awareness about the ministry, which distributes Bibles and has a sponsorship program to help impoverished children around the world.

The hills of Minnesota and the bumpy roads of Nebraska made the trip difficult, Bentley said.

“I didn’t think it would be this tough physically," he said. 

Along his route, Bentley asked for Bibles for the World donations at a handful of Baptist churches. He hopes enough money will be raised to buy 2,000 Bibles for families in India.

“I am so deeply moved by this man to make this sacrifice,” said Bibles for the World executive assistant Pamela Tucker. “We’ve had people make large donations, but no one has made such a physical sacrifice.”

An avid cyclist, Bentley planned to take a weeks-long bike ride during summer to celebrate turning 50 this year. But during months of planning and training, he decided to turn his trip into a fundraiser.

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He wanted to make a 2,000-mile round-trip. But Friday he said his return through Kansas and Missouri would would be too physically demanding.

Bentley’s first contact with Bibles for the World was in 2000 during a seminar at Westfair Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Ill. The seminar motivated Bentley to sponsor through the ministry three poverty-stricken children in India. He and his family continue to support the children.

“We fell in love with the kids,” Bentley said.

As Bentley on Friday pulled into the ministry parking lot, festooned with balloons, supporters cheered and whistled. He and supporters then enjoyed an Indian meal inside.

"I hope we can continue to help Bibles for the World," a tearful Bentley told supporters, "and spread the gospel until the Lord returns."

On Saturday Bentley pedals to Canon City, where he’ll spend the night with a family friend. Then he'll put his bike and supplies in a U-Haul and head home.

—For more religion news, go to Barna’s blog, The Pulpit, at www.thepulpit.freedomblogging.com.

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