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Spinning her wheels: Oklahoma Baptist missionary is biking for a good cause

Oklahoma Baptist missionary Alisa Duncan was touched and inspired to help when she saw how abandoned and at-risk senior adults were being loved and cared for by the Bet Shalom ministry in Guerrero, Mexico.

Duncan said she tried to think of ways to raise money for the ministry and her bicycle came to mind.

Her love of cycling got the wheels turning, so to speak.

Duncan, 50, left Oklahoma City on Thursday, July 20,  for the ride of her life.

As part of  her “Finish Well” bike ride, she plans to bike more than 2,500 miles to Canada in the next 50 days.

Duncan, a native of Crescent, said she made a similar ride in 2004 and again in 2009 from Mexico to Oklahoma, for the same worthy cause.

Now, she's back on her bicycle for several reasons:

 -- To raise awareness about the Bet Shalom ministry and to ensure that it continues to flourish. Duncan said part of the money will be used for operational expenses so that Bet Shalom can open a new wing to house 12 more people. The other part is earmarked for the purchase of a senior-friendly vehicle (an adapted van).
-- To raise a fundraising goal of $75,000 (or $100,000 in Canadian dollars).

Alisa Duncan and Tara Harp-Brown pose for a photo at the "Finish Well" bike ride launch event on Thursday outside the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]
Alisa Duncan and Tara Harp-Brown pose for a photo at the "Finish Well" bike ride launch event on Thursday outside the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]

 Thursday morning, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma held a launch party for Duncan and a group of people who planned to bike along with her for a portion of the ride.

She has lived and served in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, for more than 15 years and many Oklahoma Baptists have met her and worked alongside her during their mission trips to Mexico. 

Many of them were on hand Thursday to speak with the cyclist and pray for her as she prepared to depart on her journey. Some of them,, like Tara Harp-Brown, made one of the previous bike rides with her. 

Duncan said she's biking to Canada because there are many Canadians who are now aware of Bet Shalom and have they have become supporters of the ministry. 

She said she hoped to ride to her hometown of Crescent on Thursday where she planned to spend the night. She said she expected to ride longer distances each day through the plains and shorter distances through the mountains.

 Along for the ride

One of the people who started out the ride with Duncan on Thursday was Mike Hand, Ph.D., partnership missions strategist with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

He said he has been to visit Bet Shalom's nursing home in Mexico and "it's pretty incredible what they do."

Hand said many of the individuals living in the nursing home are not physically able to fend for themselves. 

"These are senior adults whose families have basically abandoned them. If Bet Shalom didn't take care of them, there's no one to take care of them," he said.

Hand said he is also of one the people who has come to admire Duncan for her passion and commitment to helping the Mexico nonprofit as it seeks to care for the elderly.

Meanwhile, Duncan said she asked people to pledge donations for every mile she rode on her last trip but she's keeping things much simpler this time. She said she is encouraging people who feel compelled to give to the effort to simply give what the Lord has placed upon their heart to give.

"I've just said if you want to give, give," she said.

Duncan said donors are encouraged to make donations to Christian Missions in Many Lands by making checks payable to Cmml Inc. Donors will receive a tax deductible receipt. 

For more information about the Finish Well Ride or to make a donation,  go to www.finishwellride.com or visit the initiative's Facebook page: "Finish Well Ride" 

--

Look for updates in future editions of the Religion & Values blog and The Oklahoman's Saturday Life section.

Bright orange T-shirts featuring the "Finish Well" logo sit atop a table at the bike ride's launch event on Thursday at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]
Bright orange T-shirts featuring the "Finish Well" logo sit atop a table at the bike ride's launch event on Thursday at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]

Carla Hinton

Religion Editor

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<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-82653f4a7533bfe038498d703c2d78e7.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e610e4272aafbf276ddc88aa06f487d1.jpg" alt="Photo - Alisa Duncan and Tara Harp-Brown pose for a photo at the "Finish Well" bike ride launch event on Thursday outside the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]" title="Alisa Duncan and Tara Harp-Brown pose for a photo at the "Finish Well" bike ride launch event on Thursday outside the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Alisa Duncan and Tara Harp-Brown pose for a photo at the "Finish Well" bike ride launch event on Thursday outside the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e610e4272aafbf276ddc88aa06f487d1.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b477aef259852ac705374cc35397d39c.jpg" alt="Photo - Bright orange T-shirts featuring the "Finish Well" logo sit atop a table at the bike ride's launch event on Thursday at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]" title="Bright orange T-shirts featuring the "Finish Well" logo sit atop a table at the bike ride's launch event on Thursday at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Bright orange T-shirts featuring the "Finish Well" logo sit atop a table at the bike ride's launch event on Thursday at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›

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