The following article is written by Kristin Thibodeaux, one of the GA leaders at First Baptist Church in Hickory. She discusses how the church's RAs and GAs became involved and made a difference in the 2023 Ride to Clyde. Ride to Clyde is a statewide charity ride in partnership with NC Baptists that where rid ers raise funds for Baptist Children's Homes while sharing the love of Christ throughout the three-day ride.
Boys vs. girls” is a zealous competition that is as old as time. First Baptist Church of Hickory recently tested that age-old adage by setting up a boys (RAs) vs. girls (GAs) competition they called the “Ride to Clyde Penny Wars.”
The RAs and GAs were introduced to the “Ride to Clyde” fundraiser during one of their weekly Wednesday night meetings. Three riders of FBC Hickory (Larry Philips, Bill McCall and Phil Robinson) who participate in the state-wide mission, gave an introduction of how Ride to Clyde shares Jesus with kids across the state at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH). They shared personal testimonies and a slide show of kids who were getting to know Jesus for the first time. They explained how the donations earned would support children statewide who live at Baptist Children’s Homes' many locations.
When asked what it meant to help share Jesus’s love with kids their own age, the RAs and GAs had great responses. Fifth grader and GA, Madelyn Wingler says, “I think it’s very cool we are helping kids our age to know about it (the gospel message) by just having fun and raising money. We can help tell people about Jesus and they are getting to know Him like we do.” Fourth grader and RA, Noah Wingler clearly understands the impact of sharing the gospel of Jesus with other kids. He says, “It’s like a domino effect. If you tell somebody about Jesus, they could go on and twenty people could learn about Jesus that week because one person learns about Jesus from you and they could tell another person and it goes on and on.”
That evening also made another big impact on both groups when they shared the opportunity to hop on the rider’s motorcycles and honk the horns and rev the engines; no doubt several future riders were born that evening!
With a sparked interest, the Penny Wars began to sponsor the three riders of FBC Hickory. For the next five weeks a fierce competition played out between the RAs and GAs. GAs were led by Melanie Wingler, Lisa Cox, Miranda Locklear, Elizabeth Sledge and Kristin Thibodeaux and RAs were led by Chris Miller, Cody Wingler and Scott Sledge. Each “team” had a collection bin. If dollar bills and pennies are placed in your bin, you receive positive points, but watch out, silver coins in your bins will count against your team. Every cent is worth one point.
During the five week “war” leaders sent out updated point totals weekly to keep both sides engaged. Donation boxes were set up outside the GA and RA rooms to encourage friendly competition and the kids delighted in putting silver coins in each other’s bins. Each Sunday RAs and GAs would collect money from the congregation before and after church, outside of the sanctuary with their bins. Each team also made a visit to the Women’s and Men’s weekly Bible studies to explain the fundraiser and ask for help with donations.
For more than one family, the competition became a brother vs. sister friendly family competition. The Wingler household was divided right down the middle with Madelyn and Melanie (Mom and GA Leader) vs. Noah and Cody (Dad and RA Leader). We got a peek into what those five weeks in the Wingler household looked like when Noah told us, “It was fun because we got to trash talk each other and say things like yeah, we are going to win!” Immediately Madelyn replies with, “No, you’re not!”
So, who did win? Undoubtedly, team Jesus. The Gospel moved forward as the riders shared His message this month, May 10-13. Baptist Children’s Homes received a donation of $1,045.14 from FBC Hickory RAs and GAs and an impressive overall statewide donation of $178,002. But if you ask the RAs they will have wide smiles when they announce they collected $531.71 and received 39,921 points. GAs came in a close second at $513.43 and 39,773 points.
Till next year, boys. Till next year!
Learn more about Ride to Clyde at ridetoclyde.org