Reynolds Chapel UMC member shares God’s love through bicycle ministry
By Kara Witherow, Editor
The joy on a father’s face, a simple promise, and a commitment to God set Jim Anderson on a path toward sobriety and launched a bicycle ministry that is now in its ninth year.
When cleaning out their garage one afternoon Anderson and his wife, Debbie, found a bike their grandson had outgrown. Not wanting to sell it, they decided to give it to a child who might not otherwise have a bike. Anderson took it to the Seminole County Division of Family and Children Services and asked that they give it to a family the following Christmas.
“It ended up going to a 7-year-old boy whose father was just overwhelmed with the gift,” Anderson said. “The father broke down in tears when the folks at DFCS gave it to him to give to his son. That’s what touched me the most, the father’s reaction.”
That one small act of giving resonated so deeply with the Andersons that they knew they had to do more.
“I was an alcoholic and spent a lot of money on alcohol,” said Anderson, a member of Reynolds Chapel United Methodist Church in Donalsonville. “I made a vow to God and told him that I would buy one bicycle a month and at the end of the year I’d have 12 bicycles for Christmas to give away.”
He promised to use the money he once spent on alcohol to purchase one bicycle each month and leave the rest to God. Pedals of Blessing bicycle ministry was launched, and in December 2010 Anderson gave 23 bicycles to children via the Seminole County Division of Family and Children Services. The following year Pedals of Blessing gave 32 bicycles. In 2012, 97 bikes were given to children via the ministry. Donations of new and like-new bicycles poured into the ministry from community members and members of the Reynolds Chapel UMC congregation.
“This is all God’s work. I’ve done very, very little,” Anderson said. “All I did was commit to 12 bicycles. God brought people to me.”
The ministry has expanded beyond Donalsonville and Seminole County to neighboring communities. In 2014 Pedals of Blessings began partnering with the Quincy, Fla. police department to assist with their annual Bicycle Rodeo and gifted eight bikes to the event. Anderson also joined first responders and volunteers in demonstrating bicycle maintenance and safety.
Pedals of Blessing primarily gifts bicycles at Christmas, through its partnerships with the Salvation Army, local radio stations, “Santa’s Helpers” gift giveaways, and Friendship United Methodist Church, but Anderson also donates well-used bikes and bicycle parts to a Columbus-area ministry that is able to refurbish bicycles before donating them.
Rev. Tammy Fincannon, pastor at Reynolds Chapel UMC, is proud of Anderson and the Reynolds Chapel UMC congregation and the way they’ve loved and served the community.
“It’s amazing how small a church we are and how much they do,” she said.
Anderson said that he has received much more from Pedals of Blessing than he has given.
“It has been such a blessing. God has amazed me with his ability. He has shown me in so many ways that he is an awesome God,” Anderson said. “He has shown me and taught me that the gift of giving is the greatest gift there is.”