Our evangelists (lay pastors) are modern day incarnations of the circuit riders that spread Methodism and God's kingdom though out the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. My own great-grandfather was a circuit rider in Arkansas, operating out of Little Rock. My grandmother would sometimes ride behind him on his white mule. George T. Ashley gives us a good explanation of this phenomenon when he writes of a circuit rider:
"He was thoroughly consecrated and devoted to his work. His sole equipment usually consisted of a horse, saddle and a pair of saddlebags – now a rare sight indeed- in which he placed most of his earthly possessions, usually consisting of but one change of clothing, a Bible, a hymnbook, and possibly a few tracts; and maybe a few books to sell. His home was on his horse and among the people whom he served. Thus he went from place to place, from village to village, from settlement to settlement, from house to house, preaching every Sunday, sometimes two or three times; and almost every night in the week at one of the larger homes in the remote settlements; preaching to and praying with a mere handful of people; burying the dead when occasion called for it; holding prayer and giving admonition at every house at which he stopped. The circuit usually required a month to get around in this way; and then the circuit rider would at once start again."
We are still doing this here in Tanzania. In the picture at the right you will see that a Chinese bicycle has replaced the horse, but the Bibles are still there on the back. We have given about 30 bicycles for our Methodist evangelists over the last seven years. It is a proud moment for an evangelist to receive his bicycle but it is also an expectation that he will found new churches, and these dedicated men have started thirteen churches. A man came by yesterday from Majita and wants to start a new church there, so we have dispatched an evangelist to help him. A bicycle costs a little over $100 and five Bibles cost $50, so for $150, we can continue to spread the Kingdom as long as we have dedicated men and women to do the work. We have the people, we just need the bicycles and Bibles. If you want to give, we will receive to keep and expand this vital program going.