On June 5, eight weary but inspired bicyclists arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, completing a 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) trip from Washington, D.C., in celebration of the work of Australian pioneer missionary Philip Reekie, who, in the late nineteenth century, delivered Adventist literature to remote locations by bicycle. Through Reekie’s tireless efforts, the family of one of the cyclists — Anthony Kent — came into the Adventist Church, and more than 20,000 Adventists in the South Pacific now trace their church roots to Reekie’s work.
In addition to distributing copies of The Great Controversy and Your Bible and You along the route, the cycling missionaries also raised awareness for a very special cause in the South Pacific Division (SPD). “The biggest challenge in our division, health wise,” cyclist and SPD president Glenn Townend explains, “is lifestyle diseases, and particularly type 2 diabetes. Every twenty minutes in the South Pacific, someone gets a limb removed. I grew up in Papua New Guinea; when I was a kid there in the seventies, nobody had type 2 diabetes. Now it’s estimated that one million of the eight million Papua New Guineans has it.”
Western diets and lifestyles have taken a toll on the region. “They sell their garden produce,” Townend elaborates, “to go to the shop and buy Western food because they think that’s the thing to do. It’s a huge challenge. The governments haven’t known what to do, and as a church, we’ve got a health message, and we know — scientifically — that you […]