When some find a cause that they feel passionate about, they might buy a t-shirt or post about it on a social media site, both worthy courses of action. However, not many people can say they were so passionate about at-risk senior adults they are willing to bike across the country. But Alisa Duncan can.
Previously, Duncan has ridden her bicycle from the seminary where she serves as a Baptist missionary in Guerrero, Mexico to Oklahoma City. She rode then for the same cause she rides for now, “Bet Shalom” or “House of Peace.” Bet Shalom is a home for abandoned or at-risk senior adults, operated by a small group of volunteers and full-time staff.
“I’m calling it the ‘Finish Well Ride,’ and basically it’s finishing what I started with that first ride,” explained Duncan. “I got to Oklahoma City, and there are a lot of Canadians who
support this ministry, and they wanted me to go there, so that’s what I’m doing now. I’m finishing it and doing the second half of that ride.”
Before Bet Shalom existed, there was “Hablando Menos, Amando Mas,” (HMAM) or “Speaking Less, Loving More,” a ministry formed in 2007 in response to an increasing social and moral dilemma in Mexico that many seniors are living in conditions of great risk and times of total abandonment.
The purpose of HMAM is to provide a home for seniors in need and without economic, social, emotional and/or spiritual support from family and friends. The goal of Bet Shalom is to provide hope for those who have lost all hope and to care for the whole person: body, mind and soul.
Guerrero, Mexico, a missions partner with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) has recently celebrated the lives of “saints” who have passed away in the last few years.
“When I started thinking about what to call it, the ‘Finish Well Ride,’ I thought about Jim Blackwell, or who some call the ‘Moses of Guerrero’ and his wife who we lost recently, and also a seminary professor whom we lost recently. Seeing their lives, they finished loving and serving Jesus. They finished well,” Duncan said.
That is what the ministry of Bet Shalom is doing, helping senior adults finish well. Duncan said a lot of the adults they see through this ministry reside at Bet Shalom for many reasons. However, those who spend time serving at Bet Shalom aren’t concerned with those past mistakes.
“We’re not looking at their past,” Duncan said. “We want to give them the chance to finish their lives well, and we think knowing the Author of life is how they can do that.”
In anticipation of her ride, the BGCO hosted a going away celebration on July 20 to help Duncan begin her journey. At the celebration, Duncan asked those in attendance to pray for several things while she is on her ride.
“Pray for south winds, especially when I’m going through Kansas,” she said. “I told one of the missionaries down in Mexico, ‘Man I’ve never been to Canada, and I really want to see the Northern Lights,’ and he said, ‘Well ask the Father!’ So if you want to ask the Father for me to be able to see them, I have to make it there.”
Anthony L. Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer, offered a prayer over Duncan at the send-off event saying, “Father we thank you for Alisa, for her heart and her love for people who hurt and who suffer and who struggle in life. Her desire to be able to put the spotlight on this ministry, a ministry that reaches out to people who have in many ways, no hope, and no one to turn to.
“We pray that because of Your love and grace in these people’s lives through Alisa’s work that they would come to the joy,” Jordan continued, “not only of being able to finish well here, but that they would know that there is an eternity for them that is prepared for them by Your grace and Your love.
“We pray for Alisa as she begins her journey, watch over her, keep her safe throughout this journey, give her opportunity to bear witness of Your love to many and to share the story of the ministry there in Guererro, and I pray, Father, that as she goes and gets up in Canada that she will get to see the Northern Lights, and it will be a joyful experience, and that all along the way, she will share the wonderful savor of Your grace. Bless her, watch over her, thank You for her. We love her, and we send her with Your speed on her way.”
Over the course of her ride, Duncan will travel from Oklahoma City to Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Along the way she will stop in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada. She will be making stops at churches, sharing about her journey and the Bet Shalom ministry.
Duncan said of the planned stops on her itinerary, “Seeing those we have lost in Guerrero and their lives, I want to do the same. I want to inspire people and churches where I’m stopping to finish well, and what I’ve seen in Scripture about fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith.”
Each day, Duncan will travel anywhere from 25 to more than 100 miles to complete her goal of finishing in early September. For those wanting to follow along, a tentative itinerary can be found on the official website for Duncan’s ride www.finishwellride.com.