Cycling to the unreached

Staff from OM SportsLink and Campus Crusade for Christ cycled from Pretoria to Cape Town to minister to people in rural villages along the way.

The OM South Africa SportsLink team members, along with avid cyclists from Campus Crusade for Christ, rode from Pretoria to Bellville, just outside of Cape Town from 25 February – 11 March. This wasn’t a trip for pleasure, but a way to minister to the youth in townships along the route. The team’s plan included Ubabalo, a whole-life coaching approach, as well as well-known public figures, such as South African gospel artist Steyn Fourie and Olympic athlete Reuben Ramolefi.

Ubabalo began in South Africa to address the challenge of fatherlessness in Africa. Ubabalo uses sports, specifically football, to teach life skills to youth while also equipping them with biblical knowledge and values. Sports coaches are also trained to be Whole Life Coaches so they can continue transforming lives through the power of Jesus.

Each morning, the cyclists woke up at 4:30 to prepare to leave at sunrise. Some days they travelled up to 110 kilometres (about 68 miles). 

“The stronger cyclists helped the weaker ones,” said Kelly Long, a SportsLink team member. “I remember watching other cyclists go up a hill and someone put his hand on another’s back to support him.”

The team passed through many towns and had to get permission to cycle through each one. Overall, they were able to stop at seven places within villages. Most of the villages were made up of people who are considered outcasts because of their mixed ancestry. These people are the third largest population group in South Africa today, numbering just over three million.

“The people in the villages are not used to having outsiders come minister to them,” Kelly said.

At one point, the cyclists had an appointment to meet with a rugby high school team. The directions weren’t clear, and the OMers showed up at a school that was holding a football session. They got permission to lead the group with football activities and ended with a gospel presentation. Every player responded to the gospel! Only later did the group realise they had been at the wrong school. God obviously wanted to use them at that location.

In all, an estimated 4-5,000 people, mostly teenagers, made a decision to follow Jesus during the 16 days the teams cycled. Of the experience, one member said, “We learnt a lot from each other and about our different sport’s ministries. We work for the same God, and we have the same goal.”


By Bonnie Mentel