Captain Patrick Richmond Successfully Completes Division-wide Motorcycle Tour
There are many reasons why people ride motorcycles. At the top of some lists are camaraderie and adventure. Captain Patrick Richmond of The Salvation Army of Danville, Kentucky agrees with those reasons and adds a few more motives.
When Richmond decided to organize and lead a motorcycle ride around The Salvation Army’s Kentucky Tennessee Division, he said his goals were fourfold: “To spread the gospel of Jesus Christ; to fellowship with other believers; to carry The Salvation Army flag across this great division and to pass it on to the Carolinas.”
On July 10, Richmond was presented the “Whole World Mobilizing” Flag by Captain John Sikes and Advisory Board Member Robert Huffman of The Salvation Army of Clarksburg, West Virginia, representing the Maryland West Virginia Division, as part of the General Andre Cox’s initiative to “Mobilize the Salvation Army.”
Richmond documented his 1981.0 mile journey on his Facebook page and began it with a prayer that he would be able to touch many lives with the teachings of Jesus Christ. If the thousands of views he has received on his Facebook posts in the past week are any indication, Richmond’s prayers have been answered.
“God is so good. I’m excited for the seeds that have been planted for Christ’s love through this tour,” Richmond said after completing the tour.
Richmond traveled from his home in Danville, Kentucky to Bristol, Tennessee on July 10 to begin a 4-day ride that would take him to nine of the communities served by the Division – Bristol, TN, Ashland, KY, Lexington, KY, Louisville, KY, Owensboro, KY, Paducah, KY, Memphis TN, Nashville, TN, and Chattanooga, TN. Each stop gave the delegation a variety of opportunities to minister including a mobile food unit, a thrift shop, a children’s day camp, and even the road itself when they prayed for people involved in traffic accidents.
“Even at every gas station, God put people in our path to pray with them and share the gospel. In Kentucky, a diabetic homeless man nicknamed Kentucky and his dog wanted food. Thanks to a gift we received in Frankfort, we were able to give him cinnamon loaves that met his dietary needs. These moments of being able to bless and encourage made it a trip worth taking,” Richmond said.
Roger Fowler of Jackson, Tennessee, joined him in Bristol for the entire journey. Three additional bikers Jeremy Warf, Tony Bellis, and Melvin McMonigal.– joined them in Louisville.
“I’m excited for the relationships that have been grown and fostered through this and the fellowships that have happened. God truly blessed me on this trip,” Richmond said.
His daily Facebook video post’s all included a message asking viewers to pray for him, the other travelers and the people they met and ministered to along the way.
Near the end of the tour, the bikers faced a dangerous stretch of road known as Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, North Carolina. It has 318 curves in 11 miles and is known as America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road. The road is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest.
“My anxiety was through the roof but God is good and his grace and his peace is overwhelming,” Richmond said after completing the stretch of road that contains a “Tree of Shame,” a monument made of bike parts from those who have crashed their motorcycles along the Tail of the Dragon.
“To me personally, it meant a lot for me to share my passion for motorcycling and to marry that with my passion for the ministry and my passion for Christ. Some of the people we met on the route may not have known Jesus Christ but they know motorcycling. This ride gave me the opportunity to explain how I relate those two subjects together. That blesses my heart tremendously,” Richmond said.
“For the communities, I hope it was a new experience to see that bikers don’t have to be rough and tough. Bikers can also be Christians and enjoy the open road,” Richmond said.
When the tour began in Bristol, Major Art Fultz joined Richmond on his first Facebook video and described the tour as a “creative initiative.” He also expressed that he wished he had a motorcycle instead of just a 12-passenger van so he could join in the adventure. Richmond joked that Fultz could always join as a chaser, an automobile that follows behind and acts as a type of buffer with other vehicles when necessary for safety.
“Captain Carl Melton was our chaser – he and his five-year-old, Carly. She was a great co-pilot according to her Daddy,” Richmond said.
Although Richmond said the journey was sometimes uncomfortable with asphalt and engine heat combining to create temperatures over 100 degrees, along with sunburns and cracked lips, he would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, he’s already planning a motorcycle tour for next year and invites interested folks to contact him at email@example.com .
“We continue to share on Facebook how life-changing this experience was for us and how to do this next year and allow other people to experience this. Any discomfort was worth it because the ride fulfilled our goal of carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ to people who may not otherwise have heard the message,” Richmond said.
On July 13, Richmond presented the flag to Captain Robert Long of The Salvation Army of Orangeburg, South Carolina. With that task completed, all of Richmond’s goals were met and as he rode his motorcycle home, he felt blessed knowing that God was with him every mile of the journey.