Last Sunday 39 motorcycles with their riders and some passengers set out on a historic 6-day mission to take Bibles to schools scattered across the North West province, Northern Cape and Free State.
It was historic because it was the 10th annual run of the Word Riders, a ministry project of the Bible Society of South Africa; because it was happening during the 200th birthday year of the society — and because it took place at all in this year of Covid-19.
“It’s such a blessing to be doing this,” said Dr Francois Sieberhagen, organiser of the Word Riders tour and mission programmes manager at the Bible Society in an interview today — the penultimate day of the outreach.
“With the Covid-19 pandemic we thought we would not have our run this year. Then we pushed ahead and it has been one of the best decisions we have ever made Because whenever we get to schools people are saying to us thank you for coming, we haven’t had any visitors for such a long time. Thank you for showing us that we should not be afraid — that there is life after this Covid-19 pandemic and that you guys are really caring enough to come out,” he said.
“It’s also something extremely positive for us to be able to go out and minister amidst this whole Covid pandemic and to work with the kids with their masks. And you can see the kids absolutely appreciate what we are doing — the teachers as well. It’s absolutely stunning to say the least.”
Asked about the planning that went into an expedition that reaches Grade-7 learners in some really remote places, Sieberhagen laughed, and said it takes a full six months to plan and organise such a mission.
“I tell you what, today we went to a small school in the Schweizer-Reneke area and there were only seven grade-7s in that whole school. But somehow it came up. We went there and you can imagine what those kids will feel like tonight. They will be over the moon.”
In order to extend their ministry footprint, the team splits into three groups, which means 13 motorcycles roar into each school they visit. By the end of the tour tomorrow they will have reached 72 to 73 schools and distributed about 6 200 Bibles. Some of the Bibles were delivered by members of the North West Cycle for Bibles team who joined them on Tuesday.
Sieberhagen said the camaraderie on the tour was special. Most of the team were men but there was one lady biker and several women were riding pillion.
After the three motorcycle groups finish their school visits in the Kimberley area and Free State tomorrow they will meet up in Bloemfontein at a function to celebrate the Word Riders’ 10th anniversary and the Bible Society’s bicentenary.