Bicycle wheel

Broken bikes, restored lives

Why has a small church in rural Wales been mending bikes for young people? It’s because that’s what those young people really want – and meeting that need is a brilliant way to build a relationship with them and introduce them to Jesus.

Huw Ellis

Faith Guide Huw Ellis helped to plant New Life church in Llanfair Caereinion three years ago. He says, ‘We wanted to be a church for people who think church isn’t for them. We love reaching out to our community, building relationships with them and supporting them to get the most out of life.’

And the community responded to the church’s involvement; around 40 local children come on the summer residential to explore faith. In a town of just a thousand people, through a church with fewer than 20 people, those are astonishing numbers.

The value of Faith Guides

Keefe Owens

Huw’s SU Mission Enabler, Keefe Owen, says, ‘Huw demonstrates how valuable Faith Guides are – he and his church noticed how important bikes were to kids in this rural area, but families often didn’t have the money, time or skills to maintain them. So Huw asked if I could help the church put on a bike repair event.’

Keefe just happens to be a qualified British Cycling mountain bike guide and bikes have played a huge part in his own life and faith. He says, ‘As a kid, I was always out cycling – in the wilds was where I prayed most freely and connected most with God.’

"We just wanted to bless them, get to know the young people better."

So one bright summer’s day he brought his tools and bike stand to Llanfair’s school grounds, and a dozen youngsters came with bikes in various states of disrepair. Aided by volunteers from the church, a local farmer and a council youth worker, Keefe helped to mend the cycles and teach the young people how to look after them, which led on to talking about Jesus and how he can repair our own lives.

Then Keefe led some bike-based games including a unicycle demonstration and letting the young people ride a mini bike around an obstacle course.

Huw says, ‘It was a fantastic atmosphere, and the young people didn’t want us to stop – we were there for an extra hour! The parents were amazed that we didn’t want to charge for the event, but we just wanted to bless them, get to know the young people better and share why the church was doing this. When we asked the group if they’d like to do it again, they all shouted “yes!”’

Young people on bikes

The church already had some contact with some of the children, but the repair event deepened those relationships. Later, one young person was interested in going on the residential weekend and others wanted to join the youth group.

This spring, Keefe and Huw have plans for a guided mountain bike ride. Keefe says, ‘It will include a few stops at which we’ll encourage those young people to start exploring faith. For example, we can pause at a junction and discuss good and bad choices – why and how we sometimes take a wrong turn in life, and how God can help us get back on the right route.

‘It’s so powerful, using what young people naturally enjoy to help them really connect with the God who they’re learning to love.’

Make more mission possible

We’re so grateful to all of you who give financially to make stories like this possible. It’s not too late to make a gift to our latest appeal to support Keefe and our other Mission Enablers across England and Wales, as they work with Faith Guides to reach the 95 in creative ways.

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