A Change in Perspective

Lessons from the TransAm..

This past summer Scott Bowers, 64, of Cincinnati biked across country via the TansAm Bike Trail. He spent three months on the road and covered more than 4K miles! He did it all to raise awareness of youth addiction and how the Youth Resiliency Adventure can end addition. That’s right, END addiction! It’s a all order, but we think, together, we’re up to the task.

One of the things Scott learned on his journey was that addiction is prevalent throughout the U.S. He quickly realized the dire need for programming that assists in the prevention of youth addiction. Such programming will be expanded next year in Cincinnati with your support. Visit YRAdventure.com for details.

Another thing Scott learned is sometimes you must change your perspective. Optics can be deceiving.

“When I crested a hill, I was often greeted with another one in the distance. Too often, looking at the impending incline from a heightened distance, I perceived the oncoming incline as another demanding hill. As I descended, I shifted into a more appropriate gear range to hasten my acceleration so that I could charge of the hill while bleeding off my newfound momentum,” he said.

“You can imagine the smile on my face to find the incline to be just a small grade as my momentum and spinning carried me to its crest. The perceived steep incline ended up being a shallow grade. From above, viewing it from the previous crest, the optics created the illusion of steepness. Once I changed my perspective and got closer, I discovered the truth.”

Scott learned is sometimes you must change your perspective. Optics can be deceiving. This applies to your fight against addiction.

The fight against addiction is tough. As overdoses increase and statistics grow more staggering it seems as if there’s no end in sight. But, there is and we’re going to bring it to an end. Join us for the Youth Resiliency Adventure (YRAdventure.com). #YRAdventure2nAddiction

Join the Youth Resiliency Adventure

#YRAdventure2nAddiction...

Join us in October, Substance Abuse Awareness Month, for the Youth Resiliency Adventure event.

Set your distance target and Walk, Run, or Bike throughout the month to help us raise funds for addiction prevention programming targeting at-risk youth and young adults in our community.

According to www.drugabuse.gov, education and outreach are key to helping youth and the general public understand and break free of drug abuse.

Youth.gov, says that prevention strategies targeting the root of the problem are essential to curb drug use and help people lead healthier lives.

Early intervention helps prevent substance abuse and reduce the negative consequences of addiction before they occur. Together we can end addiction.

Here’s how to join the Youth Resiliency Adventure in four easy steps:

  • Decide to walk, run, or bike. Choose your distance.
  • Register at YRAdventure.com.
  • Ask about your friends and family to join you by either registering or sponsoring you with a flat fee or a set amount per mile you walk, run, or bike.
  • Share your progress and promote YRAdventure on social media. Be sure to use #YRAdventure2nAddiction.

Filling the Belly, Feeding the Soul

Party in the Park in Price Hill

It was just another Sunday in Price Hill. Or was it?

People in the community were walking around in the summer heat. Many of them hungry, not only for food, but spiritual wholeness. They got a taste of both at Lord’s Gym Ministries (LGM) Party in the Park at Olden Park, just up the street from the Family Activity Center.

At 3:45 p.m. LGM staff and volunteers started setting up for the gourmet brunch by LeQuan “Chef Affischall” Mack, of Atlanta. On the menu: Fish and grits, brioche French toast with walnut topping, southern hash, eggs and chicken sausage and bacon (that could melt in your mouth!).

This is the second year that Chef Affischall has served our friends at LGM. With 9 years of culinary experience, the Chicago native works at Rock Steady in Atlanta, known for serving Afro-Caribbean cuisine “with style and grace.”

Chef Affischall said he learned about LGM from Tom Lipsey (LGM director of ministry partner development) and the Kroger Bible Study Men’s Group. Once he heard about the mission, he knew he had to help.

“I do this because I enjoy the fellowship and outreach with the gentlemen who are seriously putting forth an effort to impact the impoverished communities in Cincinnati,” he said. “It warms my heart and gives me great gratification to give back in ways I only dreamed of when I was younger.”

 Chef Affischall’s sentiment is shared by the many volunteers who lined up to serve the meal to LGM’s friends Sunday.

Dick, with the Men in Balance group has been helping at the Part in the Park events throughout the summer.

“It’s fun,” he said. “The events have been a success too. You really get to see firsthand the impact our service has on the ministry and the friends they serve. Helping here is rewarding. Once you see what’s going on here, it’s not a hard ask of yourself.”

Mark, who is apart of the Tuesday Morning Men’s Bible Study said once he saw what LGM was doing in Price Hill he was “drawn in.”

“How many times does Jesus tell us… get more involved,” Mark said. “So many of us live in nice areas and go to nice churches. We write our ‘feel good’ check or go on that one-time mission trip. Or, we might spend Thanksgiving serving at a shelter. Those are good things. Anybody can do those things though. But here, you’re really involved.”

Mark said those living in Price Hill are trapped the devastation of poverty and they need help.

“The only way out for them is to meet Jesus,” he said. “And that’s what Lord’s Gym is doing, introducing them to Jesus.”

Daryl is a first-time volunteer. He just learned about LGM this past Friday. His first impression: “I’m involved with a lot of different organizations, but his one is quite different,” he said. “This one is really touching the people… the staff and volunteers are becoming friends with those they are serving. That’s so impactful.”

The Value of a Friend

Two are better than one...

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

It is very biblical to be in community. Man’s first dilemma was loneliness. In Genesis chapter two, The Lord says: “It is not good that man should be alone.”

So, the Lord created a mate for him. We are meant to be a TEAM (Together wE Accomplish More), especially as believers.

Look to the sky for further proof. When you see geese, they are always flying in a “V.” That “V” stands for victory, and they reach victory together. The reason they’re flying in a group, according to scientific studies, it conserves energy; it’s easier to keep track of each other; they can go further together; they cheer each other on; they share responsibilities.

Friends are so valuable. They bring joy, help us grow and keep us accountable so we will do and be better for each other and ourselves… they help us in our walk with the Lord too. Proverbs 27:17 says: “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

God designed us to be a part of a body. 1 Corinthians 12:27: “Now you are the body of Christ…”

Fellowship with your friends as often as you can.

Covington Gym opens Women’s hours

Worship and workouts...

Surrounded by donated nonperishable donations and gym equipment a group of women lift up their hands and sing praises to the Lord. Suddenly, the Lord’s Gym in Covington has transformed into a beautiful place of worship, and you can feel that God is on the move. The band on the TV screen might as well be there performing live – the Spirit is certainly living here amongst the women.

The Lord’s Gym in Covington is open every day from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. just for women to worship and workout. On Wednesdays, they hold the women’s Celebrate Recovery program. Emily, a volunteer, works with the women at the gym, organizes workout sessions and Bible studies.

“It’s really a wonderful place to be,” she said. “I’m so lucky to be here.”

Rhonda, 54, said she loves that the gym has opened hours and programs to women.

“I really like it,” she said. “You get to visit with the ladies and worship and exercise. The gym, for me, helps take away loneliness. I’m disabled and I can’t work, so I have a lot of free time, it’s good for me to spend that time here with people who care.”

Jordon, 26, said that the Lord knew what He was doing when He led Lord’s Gym Ministries to open hours for women.

“God knew that I needed all the fellowship I can get,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the Lord’s Gym – beyond what words can describe.”

Top 5 Take-A-Ways (TAWs) of Scott’s 2021 TransAmerica Bicycle Tour Across America

Actually, there are more than 5; but the following five thoughts are what I would like to leave you with from my three-month, 4,427-mile self-supported bicycle journey from Yorktown, Virginia on May 3 to Astoria, Oregon on July 24.

  1. We live in an amazing country with a rich history, eclectic topography, and some very kind people. (Kindness is what people remember.) My trip began with a history lesson from the settlement of Yorktown in 1610, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark’s Discovery Corps, the westward expansion, the gold rush, and the founding and development of the Pacific Northwest all while riding through some of the most beautiful, rugged, and physically demanding changing wilderness landscape. It was like riding through a history book while observing what our predecessors saw. In their wake, their current day ancestors showed me, a complete stranger, extra-ordinary kindness. Leading the pack, was the kindness offered by many church congregations who opened their church buildings up to the safety, convenience, and well-being of cyclists.
  1. The spirit of God is at work, and He is listening in the remotest parts of the country. It is tempting to think of God’s presence only in our own church or community. Perhaps we even get tunnel vision to where we think God is working. Yet, upon my arrival or traversing the countless small communities of bicycle route 76 across America, I was reminded daily of seeing God at work.
  1. Addiction and poverty is prevalent in our most rural areas of the country. My goals were to take a break from 20 years of ministry to enjoy God’s intimate presence while riding a bicycle across 11 states from coast to coast. His intimacy proved to be most refreshing and encouraging as I meditated on specific scriptures, prayed, and worshiped.  In addition, I wanted to promote our ministry and its fundraising event called the Youth Resiliency Adventure (www.YRAdventure.com). The YRA promotes addiction awareness and prevention strategies for youth. While many of the towns and communities I rode through had shuttered businesses, Dept of Human Services buildings, homelessness, and food banks; most all of them claimed to have a rampant drug problem. Some claimed to be the country’s epicenter. There was much interest in the event that suggested to me the timeliness of the event.
  1. The Lord’s Gym Ministry is a wonderful and unique ministry that must continue to proliferate and be supported. As I internalized number TAW No. 3 above, I thought how beneficial it would be to have a Lord’s Gym Ministry in many of these communities. It crystalized my conviction of what a great and unique ministry we have in our own community of Greater Cincinnati. From its humble beginnings, and the support of countless individuals over the decades, it has grown to such an effective ministry through its highly relational strategy and Christ-centeredness. As a result, its effectiveness, resulting in Transformed Lives, continues to draw hurting and impoverished men, women, and children through its doors. Churches too. It has become even more apparent to me that my role as Executive Director will be to ensure its vitality and support as I continue in this role. I do not see retirement as an option anytime soon. There is so much more work to do that I implore all who are reading this to help me by supporting the ministry as a volunteer, through prayer, and financial consideration.
  1. Take the Meriweather Lewis challenge. Merriweather Lewis, on his 31st birthday in 1806, while leading the Discovery Corps to navigate a northwest passage through and beyond the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, was being contemplative and reflective. As a result, he wrote that he needed to do more to serve mankind. As such, he stated that he was resolved to do more upon his return from his exploration status. His comments really challenged me as I experienced part of the trail and rigors along the same route as his Discovery Corps.

Furthermore, one of the cyclists I rode with in my second week, David, a fellow believer, reminded that effective people understand that they cannot change anyone – only themselves. At best, we can influence others. So, we should strive each day to ask God to help us be controlled by the Holy Spirit and make us more Christ like. 

Celebrate Recovery in Price Hill

Recovery with God...

“Where’s the best place to be on a Monday night?” Heather asks the standing crowd at Revive Church.

“Celebrate Recovery,” the group replies in unison.

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ centered, 12-step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. The Price Hill chapter, available through a partnership between BLOC Ministries and Lord’s Gym Ministries, meets every Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Revive Church, 931 McPherson Ave., Price Hill.

On this Monday night, the worship is on fire. The Lord’s spirit moves individuals to sway and raise hands in praise. The vocals, on par, are heartfelt and soulful. It’s a beautiful sight.

But even more beautiful are the lives touched.

Each week Celebrate Recovery in Price Hill sees 60 or more people coming in for support and guidance to walk away or keep away from addiction, said LGM Director of Ministry Partner Development Tom Lipsey.

“Celebrate Recovery and FOCAS/Lord’s Gym is committed to helping people live above their hurts, habits, and hang-ups,” Tom said. “We want to see them live in victory – sober and whole.”

Mark, 61, has been a part of Celebrate Recovery for a few years and started coming to the Price Hill chapter a few months ago.

“It helps me stay sober,” he said. “You’re around sincere hearted people who want the same thing. I will fail if I’m around fake people not learning. All I’ve worked for will have been in vain. The people here are true people.”

Tiffany, 38, started coming to Celebrate Recovery several months ago. She chose to be apart of the program because “the principles are biblically-based and that goes along with faith-based recovery. Recovery won’t work without God.”

She also loves that the people in the program are consistently there for her during her recovery.

Zach, 33, who has also been coming for a few months appreciates the “integrity of the program and people he’s surrounded by.”

“I love that you’re with those who’ve been through it,” he said. “The accountability is awesome. You can reach out and get prayers when needed and there’s no judgement. This group really walks with people and keeps Jesus at the center – that’s the most important thing.”

Scott’s YRA Week 12

Journal July 27, 2021: Finished

Take-a-ways

  1. Keep at it and you’ll get there. Lynn from Love, VA.
    1. The bicycle is a good metaphor for the church or an organization 

How God Showed Up

In my last week of riding, I was so appreciative of the willingness of a friend from college who worked their schedule around my ride from Eugene to Astoria. Her husband, Steve, rode with me the last three days while Betsy, Deana, and her daughters made each afternoon and the arrival in Astoria a most memorable experience. They selflessly gave of their time and resources to accommodate Betsy and me. 

Overview

1 – I think back to meeting Lynn in Love, VA my first week on the TransAm trail. She lived on a 10-acre farm along the Blue Ridge Scenic Hwy in the Appalachian Mountains. She and her husband let me camp in their yard that night when I was low on water and realized I was not going to make it to my planned destination. During our many conversations she said, like everything, you stick with it long enough and it will get done or you will get there. While I cannot remember her exact quote at the moment, her practical advice was to be persistent and not give up. It was great advice and a conversation I thought of from time to time while riding, alone with my thoughts, across America. 

2 – The bicycle is a complex yet simple machine once one learns to ride it. It becomes more complex when more gears and components are built into the construction of the bike. In its most basic design, it consists of components that include a frame, two wheels, crank, chain, seat, and steering mechanism. 

With that said, consider each component and their relationship with each other. The frame can consist of different materials that are precisely welded together to withstand weight, velocity, and stress. The wheels are made of lightweight metal, spokes, bearings, and rubber. The crank is usually made of a metal or durable material and bearings. The steering mechanism is similar to the crank in its durability and bearings. The chain, simple and taken for granted, is a series of small, connected links that must work flawlessly and in unison to complete countless revolutions over its lifetime. Add to this understanding the necessity of cables, levers, pads, and lubricants. 

The above parts are assembled, balanced, torqued, aired, and adjusted to create a precise and comfortable and durable riding experience. 

IF ANY of the components are not cared for or begin to show nonalignment, imbalances, binding, fatigue, or failure the result(s) can be serious for the rider. Let one or more bearings of eighteen, inside the axel of the front wheel fail and problems will occur. (Water will wear out a bearing(s). One or more rusty chain links will bind the entire chain. A worn brake pad will prevent the bike from stopping when demanded. Sometimes we must replace parts to keep things running. 

Each of these components represents people within an organization. Each has a responsibility to perform to expectations for the entire entity to function at peak performance. If any of the components, or parts of the components, are not watched and taken care of, the ensuing result will be a decrease in performance of the component and in turn, the department, and the organization ultimately. Some parts are more noticeable than others, but all the parts are important and necessary. We must make and take the time to maintain the bike that translates into taking care of the body, church, and organization. 

Blessings and Stand Firm,

Scott

To see Scott’ videos, visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCydubq7KuWFE_3ZUD5mPdxQ

Scott’s YRA Week 11

Journal July 22, 2021: Feeling Small

Take-a-ways

  1. I am grateful.
  2. I feel sort of small.
  3. Where can you go that God is not there or with you?

How God Showed Up

In one word – water! I was riding through Hells Canyon and about eight miles outside of Baker City. My last bottle of warm water had a few gulps left. I could make it to Baker, but I was thirsty. I was drawn to a roadside point of interest revealing the actual Oregon Trail, complete with worn tracks. I rolled to a stop and proceeded to explore. Moments later an RV pulled in and the couple joined me in the exploration. While walking back to our vehicles I asked if they had an extra bottle of water, they could part with, which they obliged me. In another instance, prior to departing Baker City, I was invited to dinner by a young couple, and we discussed my route across Oregon. He was a firefighter and schooled me on the local fire scene. In addition, he told me about a particular campsite and natural spring in Austin Junction where I planned to stay. The only store there was closed, and I was out of water. The spring was on the side of the road across from the campgrounds. People from the community were stopping and getting water too. It was not necessary to filter the water. 

Overview

I am sitting in my hotel room in Eugene, Oregon reflecting on this past week (11) and my last 11 weeks of riding. While I have many racing thoughts and things I still have to say, I calmed myself and prayed for words at this juncture. The words gratitude, grateful, and appreciative of a host of people come to mind. 

 As I head into my last week of riding to Astoria, Oregon I need to express my gratitude to God for making this marvelous experience a reality through His grace, traveling mercies, and abundant presence. He has blessed me with, what it seems to me, a praying army! Your prayers have and continue to sustain me. Betsy, my wife, has been such an encouragement and daily supporter. Yolanda Carter, Burr Robinson and our FOCAS board both approved and encouraged this undertaking with words and sweat equity. The ministry has not skipped a beat in my absence due to a highly competent and compassionate staff of Christ followers and comparable volunteers. Vicky Gentry has been in daily contact with me handling my traveling administrative details while sharing words of prayer and encouragement. I am grateful to Melissa who has kept you informed through emails and social media. My TransAm Cycling advisory team who checked in with me, especially through social media, throughout my trip. The many selfless and generous investors who made this TransAm experience a reality. My church at KBC and all the churches and individuals whom the Lord uses to support me and the ministry. For all of you I am grateful and thankful to God. My prayer is that God will bless each of you and the ministry in a most meaningful way that draws you closer to Christ and presents you more mature in Him. 

Blessings and Stand Firm,

Scott

To see Scott’ videos, visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCydubq7KuWFE_3ZUD5mPdxQ

What happens at football camp changes lives

Learning about Jesus, football and life...

Raising your grandchildren alone is tough.

Theresa is thankful for Lord’s Gym Ministries for their support and care.

“I’m trying to make things good for my grandchildren,” she said. “They deserve good things. Lord’s Gym is a big help.”

She’s especially grateful for this year’s football program.

“I think this is a great thing,” she said. “Without programs like this, there’s nothing for the kids to do. It’s not good for kids to get bored. Sometimes it even causes trouble. This is a much better way.”

She signed both her grandchildren Gannicus, 5, and Kaydence, 8, to be a part of the Lord’s Gym Panthers Football Team. Last week, both attended the Panther’s football camp organized by Lord’s Gym, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Sports Reach.

On Tuesday morning, Theresa sat on the sidelines as volunteers taught the football basics to her and many others on the field at Idea Park in Price Hill.

“This is really a good thing for my grandkids,” she said. “Gannicus is a bit clumsy an he doesn’t follow directions very well. I believe this will help with that and burn off some of this energy.”

The camp and program is a good outlet for her granddaughter, she said because she is naturally competitive.

“This program will teach her how to win and lose right,” Theresa said. “Right now whenever she loses at anything she cries and gets very upset. This is going to get some of that out of her.”

Best of all, according to Theresa, she knows her children are loved here.

“They are cared about at Lord’s Gym,” she said. “The football program and this camp is also teaching them a lot. The are learning about respect. That can be something that’s hard to get through to a kid, especially these days.”

Zach Arington, with the Arington Foundation and Sports Outreach said the volunteers at the camp played in college and “love the Lord and want to help the kids in Price Hill.”

“These kids are great,” he said. “We’re super glad they are here. This camp is more than just about teaching them about football, but also that there are people who love and want to spend time with them.”

To Dennis, a dad in Price Hill, this means the world to him and his son Josh, 7.

“This is really a great thing,” he said. “We appreciate it. Not only is Josh learning about football but he’s learning about God and Jesus and that’s awesome. I really like that. That is really cool.”

Josh’ sister Alyssa said she’s excited for her brother to be in the football program.

“He has a lot of energy,” she said. “This will help and maybe he won’t tackle me!”

According to Dennis the football program gets kids in the community off to a good start in life.

“Football really teaches you a lot about life. It shows you how to be a team player, be disciplined and how to take constructive criticism. It also keeps the kids busy doing something positive,” Dennis said.