A Special Tandem Carries A Beloved Spirit on Bikers for Jesus This Week
A reflection from Pastor Lana:
It was quite a shock to receive word that Rev. Bob Walters died this week. He was a good friend, an inspiration, a supporter of Wesley Foundation Bikers for Jesus, and one of the most fit 64 year-old people I know. He was doing what he loved -- bicycling -- when he had a deadly heart attack. His funeral was yesterday, and about 2000 people attended in Plainfield and around the world on-line.
I have a vision of Bob out riding when suddenly he finds himself pedaling up into the air. After circling Plainfield and reassuring his wife and friends that all would be well, I imagine him riding with joy faster and stronger than ever before until he finds himself over Africa, letting his daughter and her family know he loves them. Then he finds himself riding over the DRC. He sees red dust roads, rivers, mountains, villages, and churches he prayed in. He waves down to the people celebrating his life dancing, singing, praising God, blowing whistles, and waving farewell to Bob. Then a heavenly voice calls out to Bob on his bicycle, "Wako, wako, wako!" (welcome in Kiluba) "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come ride with me!"
Bob grew to be an important part of Wesley Foundation and my life over the past 15 years. We started dreaming about taking Bikers for Jesus to DRC together with Friendly Planet Missiology. BFJ raised money for bikes for Congolese pastors several years. We started seriously planning a BFJ trip to DRC a couple of years ago. We had to delay it a year due to the ebola scare. Bob helped us plan the trip with Joseph Mulongo, procuring bikes for our ride from Zambia. He coached our team on the dual purpose of bicycling to get somewhere and pausing to meet and listen to people along the way. Let's call it a tandem mission!
Bob was supposed to join us to lead the bike ride in DRC last summer but wasn't able due to vis a hold-ups (for pretty much all Americans). Even though he was stuck in Indiana, he helped make sure we got through the Kasumbalesa border crossing from Zambia after our time at Africa University in Zimbabwe. He watched over us from afar and made sure we were in good hands and safe at all times. He sent FPM money whenever our group needed it, even after we exceeded the amount we'd raised. Our Wesley group enjoyed bicycling in the DRC even though only half of us were able to stay long enough to ride all the way to Mulongo in DRC. Then I got to fly to Kalemie with Bishop Ntambo to donate the bikes to Congolese pastors in Tanganyika Conference.
Bob had so many insights and dreams for the church in DRC...I loved listening to him "ramble" about the Congo and the UMC past, present, and future, whenever we got to ride together or meet. Just some of this past is in his book, The Last Missionary. Having tried to bicycle, given up bicycling, and struggled to even drive a Land Rover over some of those roads he biked fully loaded, I can tell you, his book doesn't even begin to reveal what a strong, determined, insane cyclist he was... He conquered and survived the Mother of all Mountains riding to Mulongo with Joseph Mulongo on a bike! He had several sequels he was planning on writing about other trips, his experiences riding, and what he learned from listening to those who've felt abandoned and forgotten in the DRC...
I was so looking forward to working with Bob as he invited me to join the board of Friendly Planet Missiology. We were talking of planning a bike trip in DRC next summer, or whenever it is safe enough in the future. I am still in shock he's gone, and I will miss him dearly. But I look forward to helping carry on the ride to deliver bicycles in hard-to-reach places, and his mission to listen, and FPM with Taylor Walters Denyer, Joseph Mulongo, and Bishop Mande. Please join me in prayers for his family, his mission, security and shalom for our brothers and sisters in the DRC.
Bikers For Jesus ride Bob Walter's tandem in his memory to raise money for missions in Africa!!!
August 4-12, 2017
On Saturday during Bob's funeral, his tandem was spinning through southwest Michigan raising money and awareness for missions in Africa. Bob went on several Bikers for Jesus trips with Purdue Wesley Foundation with his tandem and loaned us his tandem so he could go with us in spirit whenever he couldn't be with us physically. It seems so appropriate that Bob had blessed us to take his tandem on our BFJ to Michigan this week. Bikers for Jesus 2017 is a group of 15 students and alumni of Wesley Foundation on a 415-mile bicycle journey starting in South Bend, Indiana and ending up in Mackinac Island, Michigan. We'll be riding Bob's tandem, sharing stories of Bob, and praying for his family and loved ones.
It seems very appropriate that his tandem will help raise money for orphans and children in Africa. This year, we are raising money for Fairfield Children's Home in Zimbabwe in addition to the Wesley Foundation missions (including future mission trips). However, if you'd like to donate a BFJ pledge to FPM bikes for pastors, send a check with FPM in the memo (address below) or make a donation through the FPM website.
Bikers For Jesus is Purdue Wesley Foundation's cycling ministry started by students with Pastor Glen in 2004. This is an incredibly empowering physical task and amazing spiritual experience in the company of great fellowship and breathtaking scenery!
A reflection from Pastor Glen:
Thank-you God for the gift of Bob Walters. I will miss his kindred spirit of love beyond borders, partnership in mission to our brothers and sisters in Congo, and using our love of bicycling to reach out to others in Christ. He joined us on previous BFJ tours with his tandem -- a bicycle he loaned to me for most of the time since and many BFJ tours. With his wife Teri's blessing, his tandem will once again bless this year's BFJ tour helping to do all the things he loved: bringing people together to enjoy God creation on two wheels and raising money and awareness of mission with Africa. So sad to lose a brother in Christ -- and dedicated to carry on the mission we shared.
AJ McGlannan, alum of BFJ 2010, shares about Bob
I was surprised to see a post about Bob Walters' passing. I really enjoyed riding and speaking with him on our BFJ trip through Indiana. Wish I was able to know him more and enjoyed his FB posts. However, thankful I was able to spend time with him on our bike trip. He was very personable and I remember seeking insight about faith and such during BFJ which also persisted during reading his FB post. Always thought his missions work was very courageous and I often spoke of his work when appropriate during such conversations with many people. I will pray for him and his family and friends...
I will start a PhD at the University of Oklahoma this fall. LSU was great...my faith deepened dramatically and I look forward to carrying on to OU...