CARROLL, Iowa—Faith Baptist Church had an amazing opportunity handed to it in late July. A member of the Carroll community asked if Faith Baptist would be willing to host a charter group of RAGBRAI riders. As time went on, the church was additionally asked to consider serving a meal, and then later to provide a watering station for the riders.
RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) is a seven-day bike ride across Iowa—about 472 miles, beginning at Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and ending along the eastern border on the Mississippi River. According to the RAGBRAI website, the ride—not a race—is “the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world.”
Eight communities along the route serve as host areas for overnight stays, and Faith Baptist accepted the invitation to host. “Our charter group ended up being a bike club from Muscatine, Iowa . . . about 100 people,” says Faith Baptist. On Monday morning, July 25, the group’s support crew arrived with a U-Haul full of tents and accessories, and the bikers started arriving shortly after.
In preparation for RAGBRAI coming to Carroll, a community contact came to the church to explain what the congregation’s involvement would look like, and they attended community events and meetings. The congregation then determined that they could feed 500 people, helping out with the community’s effort to feed the 15,000-plus people who would be arriving in Carroll.
The church chose to offer the meal and bottled water free of charge. When the riders sat down to eat on Monday, “people were overwhelmed and astounded that we would not take money. Not much in this world is offered for free. It gave our church people an opportunity to explain that God’s gift of salvation is free, and we want to follow His example and offer our service for free.”
Faith Baptist says, “It was amazing to watch Him work through our small body here! Each of our church members experienced the joy of serving, and some had opportunities to share their personal salvation testimonies as well as offering tracts for those that would take them.” Before the riders settled in for the night, several people were seen reading the tracts they were given. Some even took tracts on their own.
As the cyclists left on Tuesday morning, the host church set up a table with coffee, fresh fruit, cereal bars and granola bars, water bottles, and Propel packets for their water—all for free. Several people handed out gospel tracts along with the water bottles. “Several bikers stopped and just enjoyed the food and drinks while visiting with our church people. With all that we gave away, our supply never ran out.” After seeing God provide for not only physical needs but riders’ spiritual needs, Faith Baptist Church is now praying for fruit from its ministry of showing Christ in their service to others.