ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


I am so glad I was the recorder on this ice bucket challenge! Tim is a good sport and always likes a challenge. Dumping ice cold water on his head was NOT on his bucket list, but he always keeps his commitments. When Bill Schade of Marlborough, Massachusetts, challenged him to join the hoopla to raise awareness of ALS, Tim didn’t waste a minute! We often have to improvise on our bicycle trip, so we chose to use our Camelbak for the ice bucket!

For those who would like to know more about TheHopeLine Tour that Tim mentions in the video, check out our status page.

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Prayer for a Generation

August 25, Day 54 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014

Stopping is hard to do, especially when our goal is to bicycle across the country and finish in a timely manner. But sometimes you just have to stop, look, and listen. And that is exactly what we have done during our extended stay in Sioux City, Iowa. We have also caught up on our sleep and our bodies are thanking us for that!

Our Friday night “date night” was looking better than ever. We rented a car and headed north to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We sped by some of the route we took on our bicycles last Sunday. What would have taken us all day on our bikes was reduced to about 70 minutes in a car. Amazing!

As we walked into Central Baptist Church where the dinner and Prayer for a Generation event would be held, excitement and anticipation bubbled up within. We would actually be attending an event we thought was out of our reach just a few weeks ago. Sporting our matching HopeLine shirts, Tim and I were greeted and instantly recognized by some who had seen us on the Sioux City local news and newspaper Friday morning.

At the dinner, longtime supporters were recognized for their commitment to TheHopeLine. Stories were told that spanned Dawson McAllister’s 40-plus years of helping youth in crisis. Seated at our table was a man who knew Dawson back when he was just starting out in youth ministry in 1967. We met other hope coaches and listened to their stories of gratitude for serving in the ministry. The dinner was delightful, but underneath was a tone of deep concern for this nation’s youth. One statement that startled me was that we are one generation from losing the church.

The statistics for this generation are alarming. Check them out on this press release for the Prayer for a Generation event.

Tim Altman at Prayer for a Generation in Sioux FallsAfter dinner, we joined about 400 people of all ages already gathered in the large auditorium for the main portion of the program, to pray and worship. It was powerful. The praise band led us in worship. CEO Tim Altman, pictured to the right, and founder of TheHopeLine, Dawson McAllister, spoke.

I loved the interaction between Dawson and the audience. He asked people to share their stories of those who had prayed for them over the years. Several young people shared how aunts and uncles prayed for them. A grandmother, a parent, and a spouse all were important prayer warriors for other people who spoke. Many had abandoned their faith in God for a time. Some were addicted. Two girls explained that they had been raped. I was amazed at their transparency, but not at their gratitude. What a privilege to hear that their prayers were answered: marriages mended, addictions eradicated, broken hearts healed, lives restored. Only God could do all that.

After that, we were led in prayer by several leaders in the Sioux Falls faith community. A hope coach prayed for the young people who already know and follow God. A University of Sioux Falls educator and a campus minister prayed for the teachers, principals and administrators who would be starting school this coming week. Another leader prayed for the hurting and hopeless young people who need help. Yet another prayed for youth pastors and ministers. Finally, and most importantly, a humble prayer warrior prayed that God’s extravagant love will ignite a mass movement of faith in Jesus across the nation.

We ended the evening by gathering in small groups and praying for this generation. I love it when we are given practical ways to help after a meeting like this. They had a list of youth ministries that service Sioux Falls and beyond, many of which had booths in the lobby after the event. Imagine if we started praying for, helping, and loving the youth in America on a daily basis. Imagine helping to save the lives of troubled youth so they could know God, follow Him, and make a difference with their peers!

The effect of one night of prayer will pale in comparison to what daily prayers will do for this generation. Most experts agree that all revivals and spiritual awakenings begin with prayer. God makes a promise in the Bible, in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Will you join us in praying for this generation?

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Surviving suicide

Have you considered the full effect of suicide? It goes far beyond the loss of one person’s life, potential, and dreams. The following guest post by our friend Rick offers another perspective.

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When we look back at our lives to discover how we got to where we are today, we likely recall people, events, or days that shaped us and altered our plans or course. A small number we would call “life changing,” so dramatic, drastic, or horrific that we are forever changed. We can never be the same again.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013, will forever be such a day for me. That is the day that I became a suicide survivor, a loved one left behind when someone takes their own life. Tim and Debbie Bishop asked me to put into words what it is like for me as a suicide survivor. Here is my story.

When I left for work that day, I could see that Seth, my 18-year-old stepson, had not come home the night before; his truck wasn’t parked in front of the house. It was unusual that he wouldn’t have let us know if he was staying at a friend’s place. Yet, it was not unusual that I wouldn’t know of his plans, since our relationship was often contentious.

Alarm bells started going off in my mind later that morning when I spoke with my wife. She also did not know where Seth was. Text messages and phone calls to him were not getting a response. We decided that I would come home from work to try to locate him while my wife continued reaching out to friends who may have known where he was. Before I was able to pack up and head home, a receptionist came and found me. She said that some people needed to speak with me and that … no … it couldn’t wait until tomorrow.

As I walked down the hallway, I learned that the police were waiting for me. Since we hadn’t been able to locate Seth, my mind went in so many directions, but not to what had happened. Moments later, when state and local police detectives and two pastors from our church met me, I knew something was drastically wrong. I could see it in the pastors’ eyes. I was right; Seth had been found. Furthermore, I learned that he had apparently taken his own life.

Instantly, a flood of emotions and questions raced through me: disbelief, sorrow, horror, guilt; Why? Are you sure? How am I going to tell my wife and his mother, and his brother and sisters? … and anger. How could he do this?

I was shocked and ashamed at the anger I felt, but I have learned from my therapist that anger is actually a common and normal response. If someone kills a loved one, there is grieving and sorrow for the loved one and anger towards the perpetrator. With suicide, the one lost and the perpetrator are one and the same.

I also learned why two pastors were sent to meet with me. Someone had to drive me home, to the house that Seth had left the day before and would never return to again.

Meanwhile, Seth’s mother had dropped our younger kids off with friends while she was driving around trying to find him. I called her, not to tell her over the phone, while she was driving, what I had just learned, but to get her back to the house. I also started working on getting our other children back home.

I can’t tell you how long I was waiting for my wife to get home, because I have no idea, but I can tell you it felt like years. I wanted her home for support. Yet, I dreaded the moment she would arrive and ask me what was going on. I can’t adequately describe what it was like holding her and telling her that her oldest son was gone, that he had committed suicide. I am not sure if I was holding her so she wouldn’t collapse or so I wouldn’t. Our other children, Seth’s two older sisters, younger brother, and younger sister, arrived home shortly thereafter. We told them the horrific news and held each other as we cried.

Word got out quickly. We soon had a houseful of folks to support us, including some of Seth’s teen friends, many of whom would speak at his funeral. We cried, laughed, looked at pictures, and told stories about Seth as the reality of his suicide sank in. Much of the day still remains a blur, but so many of the details of it will never leave me.

Seth’s death touched so many that day. My family and I are not the only suicide survivors he left behind. I suspect each will never forget that day and can tell you where they were and how they heard the tragic news.

My story doesn’t end that day; it only begins there. The impact of that tragic day will be with me, my family, and many others for the rest of our lives. The suicide of a loved one is, without a doubt, a life-changing event, one I pray you never experience. Sixteen months have passed and the tears still come (I won’t tell you how many times I have had to step away from writing this tonight), questions still linger, and the emotional floods still come.

The work done by TheHopeLine to help so many young people struggling in so many ways gets many of them off the path towards taking their own life. Each of those teens’ stories of success and continued life also means many painful stories of surviving suicide–like mine, my family’s and Seth’s friends’–isn’t written. Please support TheHopeLine through Tim and Debbie Bishop’s TheHopeLine Tour of 2014.

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Our thanks to Rick for his courage in sharing his very personal story in order to help others. If you would like to pledge support to TheHopeLine, please go to this webpage.

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God’s perfect timing

August 21, Day 50 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014

For the past several days, including the last few that we bicycled, I have noticed swelling and pain in my right calf. Of course, I ran to the Internet and diagnosed my problem: a stress fracture or shin splints.

Well, I was wrong. We scheduled a Tuesday appointment for an orthopedic doctor in Sioux City, Iowa, where we had bicycled to on Sunday afternoon. The appointment was at 8:30, as I was hoping we could get back to the hotel, check out, and be on our way. No such luck! The correct diagnosis of my condition is Chronic Compartment Syndrome. It is common in athletes UNDER the age of 30, and mostly runners, not bicyclists. This didn’t make sense!

The doctor’s recommendation was at least a week of rest and lots of ibuprofen. A WEEK of rest? I don’t think I have ever done such a thing!

However, God works in mysterious ways. Last week, Tim and I were talking about how great it would be to attend TheHopeLine “Prayer for a Generation” event on August 22 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But we figured we were not going near there, and by August 22, we would be long gone from South Dakota, let alone Sioux Falls.

Not only does God work in mysterious ways, but His timing is also always perfect. We have been biking for 2,296 miles. This could have happened anywhere along our journey…especially after climbing the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming or McKenzie Pass in Oregon, or even the rolling hills of South Dakota ten days ago. Yet, it happened here…and now.

When we shared my diagnosis with our contacts at TheHopeLine, their words were, “How can we get you to Sioux Falls?” They wanted us at the event. They will share our mission with others at a pre-event dinner. We will attend the city-wide event and meet with Dawson McAllister, the founder of TheHopeLine, Tim Altman, the CEO of the organization that runs the TheHopeLine, and other valued employees and volunteers of the organization. Sioux Falls, in fact, is one of the cities that hosts a physical call center for TheHopeLine, and we volunteer with some of the folks who work from that call center. We are truly grateful that this leg issue developed here in Sioux City, so close to the event on Friday night. Like I said, God’s perfect timing always comes through.

Tim and I have also been thankful for this time of rest. It would be easy to feel sorry for myself with this leg condition, but since we arrived in Sioux City Sunday night, we have been on local television, in the Sioux City Journal, and on a radio interview in Maine. These media connections allowed us to share TheHopeLine tour and our desire to raise money to help young people from ages 13-29.

To top it off, the outpouring of God’s provision showed forth one morning this week, when we sat in amazement as donations rolled in from the Dead River family, Tim’s former employer. They pledged support of over $1,700 to TheHopeLine on that morning alone. That was so encouraging to us.

We’re choosing to believe God is going to heal my leg and allow us to finish what we started–a bike trip across America to raise awareness and funds for TheHopeLine. Whether He does so only time will tell. Regardless, what a privilege we’ve enjoyed thus far to be part of His work through TheHopeLine.

Our hearts’ desire is to help save this generation. Tomorrow night’s event will focus on praying for teens and young adults growing up in the world today. We will pray for them to seek God and find the love, hope, and faith that come from a relationship with Jesus. For those who have already made their peace with God, we will ask God to raise up strong leaders who can come alongside their peers who are in need.

Whatever comes from the Prayer for a Generation event will be a blessing. It is easy to sit idly by and talk about the world’s problems and how troubled some kids are today. Yet, we can do something about it. Dawson McAllister has dedicated his life to helping young people. He will be sharing His wisdom and desire to use prayer to help change our world. Won’t you join in that effort? Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” To me, that describes our work on TheHopeLine.

If you have not yet pledged your support to TheHopeLine, please consider doing so now at this webpage. If you’re not comfortable filling out the form, please email Tim or me, or use the contact form, with your intentions and we will take care of the administrative piece. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could move that thermometer up with your help? We are hoping and praying for God to work in mighty ways. He always does!

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Coasting to a rest day

August 17, Day 46 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014

On a bicycle tour, as in life, some days are easier than others. Today was one such day.

A much needed sleep in a bed last night after two consecutive camping nights served us well. We bicycled back toward downtown Vermillion for the 10:45 service at Grace Baptist Church. After the service, we engaged the pastor, the youth pastor, and a few others on the work of TheHopeLine. The pastor then invited us to lunch. When you have eight children as this pastor and his wife do, I suppose you expect many people at the lunch table!

We ate lunch at Mister Smith’s, a legendary bakery in town that triples as an inexpensive sandwich shop and deli in the ACE hardware store. I know that hammers and hacksaws, turkey and gyros sounds like a strange combination, but the locals don’t seem to mind. Seems the hardware store moved in when the grocery store left. Mister Smith just stayed put. There was no need to move once people knew where a good eatery was located. Heck, even Oprah likes their bread. After eating our sandwiches, we concurred.

There’s something refreshing about good Christian fellowship. When you spend time with kindred spirits like these people have, you feel like you’ve known them all your lives and can share what’s on your heart and mind. Although our time together was short, it seemed mutually encouraging for all involved…just as it should be.

Another South Dakota fieldThe pastor corroborated the suicide risk on the state’s Indian reservations. He said that the church has reached out to one of the reservations, lending assistance with building projects and the like, despite the difficulty in gaining their trust of white people. There’s a long history behind the mistrust that has nothing to do with those who are reaching out at this time. This is a common issue that Debbie and I encounter with youth on TheHopeLine. Many often find it difficult to trust even safe and well-meaning people once the afflicted have already experienced exploitation. Their “truster” has been broken, and it takes time to put it back in working order.

Iowa SignBy midafternoon, we were off to Sioux City, Iowa. The adverse wind of the past several days had changed course. Now, it was from the northwest, and proceeded to hasten our departure from South Dakota. Several massive corn and soybean fields ushered us all the way to the state line. The cycling was so easy, smooth, enjoyable. Cruising in high gear on flat terrain with long, easy pedal strokes is just the way you draw it up on the pre-tour chalkboard. There’s less strain on the muscles and the saddle sores.

Bicycle path into Sioux City, IowaI’m always struck by how the terrain can change almost immediately when entering a new state. When we crossed the Big Sioux River into Iowa, gone in an instant were the massive fields (although I understand we’ll be seeing our share of those in Iowa), replaced by trees and bluffs as we journeyed through the river valley to Sioux City. A leisurely stroll along the riverside bicycle path called the Lewis and Clark Trail deposited us downtown.

Riding along bluff in IowaAlthough today was an easy day compared to other recent ones, a rest day is on tap. It’s as important on a bicycle tour as it is in everyday life to take a break from the routine and rest. That’s why God made the Sabbath. In our case, we need some time off the bicycles. We will be taking some chats tonight on TheHopeLine, catching up on the blog and fundraising efforts, and scheduling an appointment for Debbie, as she has been experiencing some pain in her right shin area. We’re in a good place to address these matters.

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