UPDATE: Mission Accomplished! At 2:00pm on Monday, August 10, 2015, United Methodist pastors, Dennis Miller & Randy Shrauner, arrived at the Arctic Circle! The Arctic Imagine Ride raised approximately $11,000 for "Imagine No Malaria"! Glory be to God!
Donate to Imagine No Malaria in honor of Rev. Miller and Rev. Shrauner and their amazing arctic adventure: http://arctic2015.com/donate/
And they’re off! On Aug. 2, two motorcycling circuit riders will roar out of their suburban driveways and onto highways headed north. The Arctic Imagine Ride to benefit Imagine No Malaria is the daring dream of the Rev. Dennis Miller, superintendent, Foothills District, Ohio Conference, and the Rev. Randy Shrauner, United Methodist Church of the Servant, Oklahoma City.
“We’re just two guys who love Jesus, are good friends, love mission, love ministry and love motorcycles,” Randy said.
For three weeks and 10,000 miles, Dennis and Randy are taking the road less traveled on an awareness mission for Imagine No Malaria. Even before they rev the engines of their BMW r1200 GS motorcycles, the duo has raised $10,000, enough money to save 1,000 lives.
“Our gift is a small drop in a bucket, but it’s the drops that make the bucket,” said Dennis.
West Ohio Bishop Gregory Palmer approved the creative adventure ride.
“Literally every day, I am energized, humbled and transformed by the stories of individuals reaching out beyond anything ever imagined to eliminate deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said. In sub-Saharan Africa, one child dies every minute from this preventable disease.
With brain buckets snapped and armors secure, these two ordinary guys seek an extraordinary experience.
“We believe in going the extra mile for malaria prevention and eradication,” Dennis said. “The Arctic Imagine Ride is an invitation into the fullness of Jesus’ call to offer the gift of abundant life to God’s children in Africa.
Listening to the Spirit’s voice
Heading out of Fargo, North Dakota, the dynamic duo will be traveling through the wilderness on back roads and spacious highways, across creeks and borders and over mountains in search of spiritual gold.
“Of all adventures, this is the big one,” Dennis said. “I will constantly be praying to God … and listening, not simply to the hum of my BMW engine, but to the Spirit’s voice.”
The first several days will take them northwest to the capital of the Klondike Gold Rush in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. Then they will ferry their motorcycles across the Yukon River and ride across the “Top of the World” highway. The friends will cross North America’s most northern international border at Little Gold, Poker Creek, Alaska. Then, certainly saddle sore, they’ll ride north to the Arctic Ocean on the most isolated, most northern and most dangerous road in the United States – the James W. Dalton Haul Road, a nasty stretch of dirt and gravel.
“Everyone should do something once in a while that scares you a bit.” Randy said.
“I think the greatest danger is not fully living into the call upon my life,” Dennis added. “I don’t want to miss … God taking me to places we can make disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Along with dangers such as unpredictable weather, other drivers, and bears (black, grizzly and polar), the men will also share the best of times when they will fall asleep beneath the heavens and wake to the aroma of coffee and pine trees.
Randy, a lifelong camper and former cowboy, admitted, “There is nothing that will heal my soul like a tent and a sleeping bag.”
Hoping for hog heaven
Ironically, one of the biggest dangers they face are mosquitoes that infest the Alaskan tundra during the summer. Not quite an accident, the men will sleep inside mosquito nets for protection.
“Bears won’t eat you,” Randy said, “but mosquitoes will.”
Both cyclists look forward to stopping at diners, gas stations and campsites to make human connections.
“It won’t be about walking up to strangers to tell them about Jesus,” Randy said. “It will be about having conversations as icebreakers to talk about God’s work in the world.”
If all goes according to plan, Dennis Miller and Randy Shrauner will be in hog heaven.
“Part of an adventure is not planning everything,” Randy said. “Adventure doesn’t really start until something goes wrong on the road. I told my wife that if they can’t find me to look for me in Alaska!”
A celebratory toe dipping in the Arctic Ocean is on their bucket list.
“We’re not sure we will accomplish it, but we’re going to try,” Dennis said. Our hope is that we get into the river of God and trust God to use us for good.”
The trip is a gift to the West Ohio Annuall Conference and Imagine No Malaria. Dennis and Randy are paying all travel expenses and taking personal vacation time to make the dream come true. They will give 100 percent of all donations to eradicate malaria.
Follow Dennis and Randy’s journey at www.arctic2015.com. Support them with your prayers. If you see them along their way, toss coins in their motorcycle helmets, offer them a soft seat and support their journey at arctic2015.com/donate/.
*Susan Passi-Klaus is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tenn.