A prayer for Winfred

The children are the ones who receive Bibles and a kind word during the Word Riders tour, but the Word Riders take away just as much, if not more from each tour.

One of the special memories of this year’s tour is that of Winfred Smith.

Ben van Aardt engages with pupils from Sederberg Primary.

While visiting a school on Thursday, Marelize du Plessis was approached by a woman from outside the school grounds.

She said that her son had just a received a Bible from the Word Riders. He has dyslexia and this has led to him being made fun of at school. Her son’s condition prompted the mother to read up a lot about dyslexia and child development. She learned that children, and even more so children with dyslexia, should know what they want to become by the age of 10.

Sederberg Primary in Clanwilliam was one of the last schools the Word Riders visited.

So when Winfred turned 10, his mother started prodding him to find out what he wanted to be one day.
“From the beginning he wanted to be a pastor,” Marelize relays the story.

His mother thought this a ridiculous notion given his reading disorder.

Her young son, however, knows the Bible and he has faith that he will be succesful in pursuing this godly calling.

He said, “Mom, Moses couldn’t speak either, yet God sent him Aaron to help him. The Lord will send me an Aaron as well to come and help me.”

Burger van der Westhuizen listens as a child reads aloud from his new Bible.

Winfred’s mom asked the Word Riders to keep her son in their prayers so that he could fulfil his calling of becoming a pastor.

And that is all that we can do now – pray. We have sowed the seed of God’s Word, the Bible. It is now up to the children to make the choice of reading that Bible and allowing God to work in their hearts and lives.

Children page through their new Bibles.

So this is our prayer for Winfred and all the rest of the 4 537 children who each received a brand new Bible:

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

The 2018 Word Riders group.

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Learners helping learners

To be a Word Rider requires time, effort as well as a financial commitment. Without the support of these members of the public that make up the group, the tour will never happen.

Dawie Oosthuizen prays with a learner from Augsburg  Agricultural Gymnasium in Clanwilliam.

The Bibles that are distributed during a Word Riders tour are mostly sponsored by these individuals. People from all walks of life who raise funds through their churches, friends or by approaching businesses for sponsorship.

Last year, a new project was introduced to complement the Word Riders outreach tour. The #BibleBubbies initiative is aimed at Word Riders approaching schools in their respective home towns and then asking them to raise funds for Bibles. These Bibles are then distributed to Grade 7 learners at other schools. By having learners help other learners in this manner, they are made aware of both the work of the Bible Society as well as the need for Bibles among their peers across the country.
Pietersburg High School in Polokwane was among the first schools to get on board with the #BibleBubbies project. Willem and Dawn Swiegers were the Word Riders  instrumental in getting this school and its learners involved.

Dawn Swiegers illustrates to learners the importance of fully engaging with the Bible. 

Today,  the first of these Bibles were given to learners at schools in St Helena Bay, Velddrif and Clanwilliam.
Apart from the Bibles, the pupils from Pietersburg also made bookmarks for and wrote letters to the recipients of the Bibles.

In this day and age of digital communication, it was quite special to listen to Dawn as she read some of the handwritten letters aloud.

Handwritten notes from pupils of Pietersburg High School accompanied the Bibles they donated to schools along the West Coast.

“A school in Pietersburg decided to generate money to buy Bibles for you in St Helena Bay, for each and every one of you to take it home, to keep it with you. We are so, so blessed,” said the principal of St Helena Bay Primary, Mr Williams.

The R21 000 raised by Pietersburg High School will provide four schools with 380 Bibles.

Word Rider, Willem Swiegers, played a pivotal role in getting the #BibleBuddies project off the ground.

“I’m convinced that the #BibleBuddies project will go from strength to strength,” said Francois Sieberhagen, organiser of the Word Riders tour.

Eager for a Bible.

Blessings from babes

Distributing Bibles to Grade 7 learners of schools in mostly rural areas is the main focus of the Word Riders tour.

Yet, as it is such a unique and impactful way of reaching both students and teachers,  for the last couple of years the tour has also been used to highlight the Bible Society of South Africa’s Bible-based literacy project.

So when a group visits a school, one of our team members asks to chat to the foundation phase teachers. The teachers are then introduced to the two Bible-based literacy booklets, My first Bible Do and Learn Book and My 2nd Bible Do and Learn  Book. These books are intended for use by Grade R, 1 and 2 pupils.

Word Rider, Andrea Sieberhagen, presents one of the school principals with the Bible-based literacy booklets.

It was during an occasion like this, that Alta van Aardt, experienced another first today.

Elaine Matchett chats to a teacher about the Bible Society’s literacy project.

When Alta was introduced to the foundation phase teacher at Dirkie Uys Primary in Moorreesburg, she was asked to go to the class because the little ones knew about the motorbikes but weren’t allowed to go to the hall with the Grade 7s to see what it was all about.
“When I got to the class, they asked me a number of questions about who we are and what we are doing. After explaining our visit, I told them that I have to leave now. That is when the children all got up and surrounded me. The teacher then asked them if they would like to pray for me, and they said ‘yes’ lifting their little hands and placing it on me.”

Two boys then took turns to pray.

“One prayed for our safety – that we musn’t fall and be injured (his father also rides a motorbike so he knows all about falling) and that we musn’t get caught in the rain. The second boy was very specific in his prayer request and asked that we should have enough to eat along the route.”

Very happy to receive a Bible.

They also asked if they, too, would receive Bibles when they are in Grade 7.

Alta says it was a remarkable to see and hear a bunch of six- and seven-year-olds pray like that.

“I have never experienced something like that.”

Alta with the Grade 1 class that spontaneously decided to pray for her and the rest of the Word Riders.

Water from a rock 

The Western Cape is in the midst of a severe drought and nowhere is this more evident than across the parts that we travelled through today.
Hopefield and Moorreesburg lie within the Swartland region. Its grain and wheat country, but at the moment the fields are bare. A simple glance will tell you all you need to know. It’s dry, and the chances of anything growing in this dusty soil are near zero.

Expectant fields

Yet, we saw fields being churned, a testimony to the farmer’s hope of help from above. Rain, that glorious blessing from the heavens that ensures growth and life in abundance.
It is much the same with the task the Word Riders have this week. We are sowing the seed of God’s Word in the hopes that it would fall on fertile soil and be blessed with growth. 

Christo Pieters and Magdaleen Grobbelaar connects with a group of children.

One can look at the schools and the children and the difficult circumstances that they find themselves in, and think that there is no hope of a positive outcome. Although these schools are in the rural areas they are not excluded from the same social ills that plague their big city counterparts.
“Last year we caught learners smoking dagga (marijuana) in front of the school during breaktime,” one principal told us. “Alchohol abuse is a big problem in our community. We warn the children against it constantly and tell them that it’s not worth it. But there is peer pressure, much of it comes from older children (grade 10 and 11) who dropped out of school and now work on the surrounding (wine and fruit) farms. They influence the younger kids,” he adds.

A learner of Mount Rouge Primary in Tulbagh hands over a collection tin to the Bible Society’s Quintus Heine. The school collects funds for Bibles.

The school was thus very grateful for the positive message and the Bibles that were brought to them this morning.
Alta van Aardt recounted a special moment between fellow Word Rider, Wida van Vuuren and a child, that nearly brought her to tears.

“Wida took a seat on this small bench among the Grade 1s. A small girl came to sit down next to her, and the next momement she hooked her arm around Wida’s arm. And Wida sat quietly. After a while she took her other arm and placed it on top of Wida’s arm. I just sat and watched them. We forget what impact we have on these children through physical touch. That was what that little girl needed today – a special touch – and it is one of the most importance things that we can give these children.”

Wida van Vuuren quickly became this little girl’s favourite Word Rider

A humble token of gratitude also had Gerhard Genis fighting back the tears.
“At one school the children welcomed us by waving these little flags. After we finished and we were getting ready to leave this small girl came up to me and said, ‘You have brought me a Bible. I have nothing to give you, I don’t have anything but take this flag. That was very special.”

God’s view of us

As the ultimate parent, God can and does give us, his children, spectacular gifts. One such gift is Mother Nature with all her beauty and intricacy.

Travelling up Du Toitskloof in the mist.

Today, we had the pleasure of steering our motorcycles over two beautiful passes as three groups headed out to distribute Bibles in the areas around Franschhoek, Simondium, Klapmuts, Wellington, Villiersdorp, Touws River and De Doorns.
An early start saw the bikes making their way through some low-lying mist which only added to the wonderful spectacle that is the Du Toitskloof mountain pass. As we descended on the other side, the town of Paarl spread out in front of us.

Winding up Bainskloof Pass.

As we returned to Slanghoek in the afternoon, it was time to test both the nerves and the riding skills along the narrow, twisty bends of Bainskloof. This pass proved a bit too much for some of the group members as they visibly had to fight their fear of heights.

Breathtaking views await one at the top of Bainskloof Pass.

As fantastic as the views from these majestic vantage points were, there were even more glorious sights awaiting us at the schools we were visiting.
At West End Primary in Franschhoek, the Word Riders were welcomed with some praise and worship music during their weekly assembly. The joy and warmth radiating from the faces of these little ones warmed our hearts straight away. Definitely the perfect way to start a tour.

This cutie was only too eager to help Maryke de Bruyn teach the children a Bible verse.

At one school, Pastor Bennie Francke decided to mix things up and asked the children to point out the four naughtiest girls (as opposed to the naughtiest boys, which is usually the case) in the school. Very quickly four, slightly embarrassed girls were singled out. Bennie then proceeded to tell them, that this is the view other people have of them, but in God’s eyes each one of them is a perfect 10.

Her very own Bible.

Two of the girls started to cry. It might sound strange, but that was undoubtedly another beautiful sight to behold.

To see the a child grasp the truth that he or she is so very precious in the eyes and heart of the God Most High, is truly the best view of all.

These are words and truths these children need to hear and someone needs to tell them, and that is why the Word Riders tours are so powerful.

Paul Maddison and his team from the Bible Society’s Finance department joined the Word Riders today to experience this outreach project first-hand.

The call to follow him

What was it about Jesus that could cause a complete turnabout in people in an instant? What attracted people to him in such a powerful way, that they would abruptly leave their lives and follow him, seemingly without a moment’s thought?

The views of the vineyards and mountains in Franschhoek

This was the topic of this evening’s devotional by Nelis Janse van Rensburg, moderator of the ‘Ned Geref’ Church’s General Synod. Nelis was one of several guests that joined the Word Riders at the Slanghoek Mountain Resort near the town of Rawsonville, where they spent their first night on tour.

Nelis Janse van Rensburg

“You are people with a calling to carry the Gospel to others otherwise you wouldn’t have been sitting here,” Nelis addressed the group seated on the grass in front of him.

He said that as the Church, the Bible means everything to us. Our faith is centred around it.

“It is what our existence is about, it’s the testimony of Jesus Christ, the testimony of a Triune God who wants to be in a relationship with us. And we would not have had any of that if we did not have the Book. The Book gives it credibility, it tells the specific stories, it gives us the content – Jesus Christ. ”

This special message once again highlighted the importance of Bible distribution. Without the Bible out there, people can’t read and get to know the story of Jesus and this God who loves us so much. It is a message that should be heard far and wide.

When the Word Riders set out to distribute Bibles at schools tomorrow, it will be with the same fire that stirred inside the hearts of the first disciples to go out into the world and tell this story of Jesus.

We pray that these Bibles will also be instrumental in introducing these children to their Saviour, Jesus, and in finding their godly calling.

Our travels included a visit to the Franschhoek Motor Museum 

The West Coast beckons

The pristine beauty of the West Coast with its wind-swept landscapes and tranquil atmosphere will be the backdrop for the Word Riders tour this year.

The journey which starts on 15 April from the Bible House in Cape Town, will first take the group through the well-known wine regions of the Cape Wineland and Breede River Valley before heading towards the coast.

However, as is the case every year the beautiful route with its sights and scenes take a backseat to the true purpose of the trip which is spreading the Word of God.

To this end 4 537 Bibles will be distributed to Grade 7 learners from 54 schools in these rather  scarcely populated and rural areas.

This year the tour group will comprise 40 motorcycles and close to 70 people.

Be sure to follow this blog for a daily update for the duration of the tour.

The route of the Word Riders 2018 tour