After months of planning, gruelling training, and meticulous preparation, we were one week away from the start of the fourth STOP International Sponsored London to Paris cycle ride, when we heard the news. Paris was in the middle of a fuel crisis and there were protesters on the streets. The media informed us that the situation was growing worse by the day, almost all the fuel stations in France were dry and British travellers were finding it increasingly difficult to buy fuel to return home to England.
I checked the internet daily, only to learn that the situation was not getting any better. We had to question if we were going to go ahead with the cycle ride, so I prayed for God to show me what to do. My analytical common sense was warning me to be cautious and to cancel the ride, however something did not quite feel right about cancelling. Regardless, I emailed the team of nine and asked for their opinion. The feedback I received was mostly positive but there were a few lines which resonated with me the most, they read:
“I think we should go ahead with the trip in faith but be flexible according to the situation i.e. if Paris is a danger zone we can still do the mileage but in another town nearly or so. As for the fuel I think we are going to be ok. So much preparation and fundraising has gone into it, it would be a shame to cancel and doing it locally would not be the same. Let us continue to pray. God is ABLE!”
“Our Father in heaven is with us in this mission, so will take care of us. Prayers can remove the mountains, so with this fear too, therefore PRAY.”
Since God has never let us down before, I had an inner peace that all would be well because as God is in control. We had a number of friends praying for us and God is not short on hearing prayers.
Then on 29 May 2016, we drove to Tower Bridge in two support vehicles and after a short worship on Psalms 121 our journey began. On our first day we had three main challenges: Shooters Hill, Chatham Hill and the long climb on the A2 outside Canterbury, for which we needed divine help and we received it. All six riders, Ravi, Teddy, Jean-Paul, Simeon, Laxmi and I covered the 78 miles safely but a little worse for wear. We reached Dover with enough time to spare to catch the 5:20 pm ferry.
For the second day the weather forecast was heavy rain and none of us were very pleased about it. We woke up to heavy winds but unbeknown to us our prayers were being answered, as the storm clouds were blown elsewhere. Although, as we were upon our second destination, Abbeville, the rain that was due in the morning descended and we were all soaked. However, all that we needed was a good hot shower and dry clothes, and our temporary woes were forgotten.
When we woke up the next day we were disappointed as it was raining. The forecast indicated that the rain would stop at 9 am but the rain did not get the message, so the start of the ride had to be delayed. Due to the rain, the day’s cycle was extremely challenging as the terrain was not kind to cyclists; however, God provided us with the strength and energy to keep riding in spite of very cold and damp conditions. We covered 57 miles but it had seemed more like 570 miles by the time we arrived at Beauvais.
Day 4 was the final leg of our journey. As we approached the French capital, we were relieved that there is no sign of unrest, fuel shortage or the demonstrations that had been promised by the media. After a short stop for brunch we stopped to fill up with fuel (there was no queue or fuel shortage) and rode into Paris without stopping for lunch. Ultimately, we arrived at the Eiffel Tower, our final destination. God had brought us safely across the 262 miles from London to Paris, so we took the opportunity to thank him on top and under the Eiffel Tower.
We thought that this was the end of our story but only after we arrived in England did we learn that the River Seine had flooded and some of Paris was under water! By God’s wonderful Grace He protected us from the elements, gave us the strength to ride the 262 miles, led us through the fuel crisis, kept us from the protesters and got us out of the city before it flooded. We could not have been blessed more. This trip demonstrated once again that God is in control, just as Psalms 121 assured us.
Thank you for supporting the 2016 STOP International London to Paris cycle ride this year with your sponsorship as well as your prayers. We pray that we have raised sufficient funds to put 50 orphan children of the Way to Life Children’s Home through school for one more year.
If you would like to make a contribution to help us reach our target of £5000 please follow the link below.
Kish Poddar 2016
Assistant Headteacher of Stanborough School