Dear Hopesters

Steve WeldonBlog

I was minding my own business when it all began with a rather odd phone message from a complete stranger. After coming across our 2018 Ride 4 Refugees website, this stranger really desired to speak with me about refugees and riding bicycles across the United States. Refugees, bicycles, and the United States… this stranger had my attention!

The stranger was Carl Gaede, the CEO of Tutapona. (A Swahili word meaning, “We will be healed.”) As we talked, he explained his vision of recruiting a group of 8 riders to cross the United States from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida in 8 days, with each rider taking 2-hour shifts, riding 24 hours a day. All to support refugees. Crazy! Beautifully epic!

What’s really crazy is that this was very similar to a plan I had concocted several years ago. Now he really had my attention. Before he hung up, he asked if I wanted to be his first recruited rider. Oh no! This was getting serious! Was this from God? What would Sharon think? What would Nick think? Would Hope support this? Is this something an old guy like me could do? Would we once again unite to provide generous help to the least of these on the planet in Jesus’ name?

After having conversations with God, Sharon, Nick, and others while pondering how this all came to be and the state of our world, I agreed to join. I also enlisted the help of another Hopester and avid bicyclist, a young buck you probably know, Jeff Seal. Jeff and I now make up Team Hope representing all Hopesters. It’s our desire to enlist as much support as possible to show the love of Jesus to these refugees who are personally traumatized by the devastating consequences of war.

From it reads, “Tutapona is a Christ-centered organization that works with some of the world’s most war-affected communities who have persevered through countless traumatic events to provide quality mental health services. Since our beginning in 2008, we have been able to support more than 50,000 people in their journey to emotional recovery. We see exciting results among program participants with a measurable reduction in their trauma symptomology, increased well-being, and resilience to face future challenges.” — “Two years ago, you helped us launch our children’s program Heroes Journey in Uganda. Since then, countless lives have changed and hundreds of children living as refugees have gained HOPE. Now, we are inviting you to join us again- this time to EXPAND our children’s mental health programming to Kurdistan Iraq and support our ongoing programs in Uganda!”

Hopesters, in these trying and divisive times, hear my heart.  Let us join together in doing this positive and beautiful thing for the Kingdom. To help us reach our $50,000 goal, please give generously by going to and then navigate to Team Hope.  You may also give through Hope – just write “refugees” in the MEMO line.

Also, this is important: Carl Gaede the CEO of Tutapona is going to be at Hope on Sunday, August 29th at 5:00 pm in the Barn to share his heart, his call from God, and the ministry of Tutapona. Along with Jeff and myself, we will also answer questions about our 8-day ride. There will be snacks. Please, please don’t miss it! Let’s have a large and excited crowd. Please! Together, with the help of Jesus, we can make it happen.