Heads turned, people stared, and children pointed in excitement as the unmistakable vibrating rumble of scores of motorcycles riding in tandem sounded down the city streets and connecting highways. But there wasn’t anything to fear; it was quite the opposite. The riders were there to help raise funds for a very unique ministry — the Adult & Teen Challenge (ATC) Family Center in Minden, Louisiana.
The ride, named Run to the Cross, was the brainchild of Jay Valentine and Craig Spence, both who attend Central Assembly of God in Haughton, a city located about 20 miles east of Shreveport in northwest Louisiana. The church has regularly supported the nearby Minden ATC Family Center, but Valentine and Spence got an idea that wouldn’t let go.
“Craig Spence and I ride motorcycles for a hobby,” Valentine says, “and both of us have a burden for Teen Challenge. About six months ago, we were out eating breakfast, and we decided we should try to have a motorcycle event to raise money for Teen Challenge. We decided to call it, Run to the Cross.”
Although many motorcycle rides incorporate the word “run” into their names, the addition of “the cross” into this event’s name was particularly appropriate not only because Adult & Teen Challenge is an AG U.S. Missions ministry, but because Central Assembly has a 199-foot cross on its property that can be seen from miles away.
Andy Jenkins, who has been director of the ATC Family Center with his wife, Christy, for the past seven years and is a 1992 graduate of Teen Challenge, explains that this ATC is relatively unique.
“We have a very large facility where we can house 31 women plus their children,” says Andy Jenkins. “A lot of times ladies know they need help [with life-controlling problems], but if they leave to get help, who’s going to take care of their kids? We are one of only two facilities (run by any organization) in the state able to provide the avenue where a mother doesn’t have to choose between help and her kids — she can have both.”
Valentine and Spence began promoting the April 10 event and talking with businesses in the community about partnering as sponsors. In the end, they were able to raise $6,000 for the Minden ATC Family Center and see 68 motorcycles participate in the ride that began at the church and ended at the center.
Jenkins expressed his deep appreciation for the efforts of Valentine and Spence, explaining all he had to do was show up.
“They took the bull by the horns and made it happen,” Jenkins says. “I can’t express the gratitude . . . to put something on like that took time, energy, initiative, and for it to be successful like that, that’s just amazing!”
“The night before, we had really bad weather, so I think that kept some riders away,” Valentine says, “but for a first-time ride, it was still a very good turnout. I look for bigger and better things next year.”
As the riders arrived with a police escort at the center, the kids came out wanting to see the motorcycles, with a few even getting a chance to sit on some. But more importantly, many people, from sponsors to participants, were made aware of the work ATC Family Center is doing.
“I believe we were able to create awareness of the center, where it was, and the need that is there,” Valentine says. “I think some of the people (who participated in the ride) will end up being contributors to that ministry.”
“Plenty of people who had not heard about us, were impressed with what we were doing,” he says. “I believe that long-term connections were made . . . and that’s going to turn into something good in the future.”