Interview
07 October 2020

Cycling the Tour de France and swimming the channel – without leaving the UK

This autumn and winter, Nick Gerrard will be taking on a massive challenge to fundraise for the persecuted church. In this article, he explains what motivates him.


Nick

Nick Gerrard

Tell us more about the challenge you are taking on? 

I am cycling the equivalent of the 2020 Tour de France route (21 stages totalling 3,479.7km or 2,110.75 miles) and swimming the 23 miles of the English Channel (La Manche) to raise badly needed funds for a cause very close to my heart: to support Christians who are being persecuted around the world for their faith, especially in countries like North Korea. Persecution has got even worse during the pandemic, where many Christians are being denied vital food aid, on top of everything else they suffer. 

What prompted you to take on this challenge?  

Last year, I took part in the Muskathlon cycling challenge in South Korea. This was a huge challenge for me to raise the enormous sum of nearly £10,700 to support North Korean Christians, thousands of whom are supported by Open Doors’ secret networks in China. I’ve met many of our persecuted brothers and sisters, and taking part in the event with some truly inspirational fellow Christians from the UK, Holland and several other countries made this one of the most purposeful things I had ever done. 

As we entered lockdown, I took to heart the prime minister’s permission to have an hour of exercise a day  – and I used this time to cycle the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats (1,084 miles). When I had finished, I decided I needed another challenge.

This time, I more than doubled the cycling distance with the Tour de France. And, since I needed to ‘get to France’, I decided to also swim the English Channel – albeit virtually! I took on this massive challenge with the aim to raise £5,000 for the work of Open Doors. 

"Supporting persecuted Christians is one of the most worthwhile things I feel I can do with my life." Nick

During lockdown, however much suffering was going on in the UK, and however much I was being deprived of things I’d taken for granted, all of this paled into insignificance compared to the awful stories of layer upon layer of additional persecution being added onto the burdens of persecuted Christians around the world. It broke my heart. To be honest, I wanted to do something really worthwhile – we have provided support to our neighbours during lockdown, but supporting persecuted Christians is one of the most worthwhile things I feel I can do with my life and it is a superb motivation to me.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges? 

As I will be undertaking this over autumn and winter, I cannot expect the weather to be as kind as it has been during lockdown and this summer. It’s going to take a long time, as I am working full-time. But, as with the Muskathlon, the biggest challenge is going to be raising the sponsorship – so any support Open Doors supporters are able to give will be massively appreciated!

Which parts are you looking forward to?

There are 21 stages in the Tour de France and I have now finished two – I am looking forward to metaphorically rolling into Paris and completing it (not forgetting the swim, of course, which I will do on really bad weather days).

Are there any stories of courageous faith that have inspired you? 

Many! Particularly Hae Woo* and Kim Sang-Hwa*, both of whom I have met,as well as another lady, Nina Lim*, whom I met in South Korea. I cannot answer this question without referencing Corrie Ten Boom, whom I never met, but I’ve read nearly all of her books and heard many talks and visited her house in Haarlem – but perhaps the greatest tribute of all is to say that we named our first daughter after her.

What would you like people to know about the persecuted church? 

That it really exists and that we can do something about it by praying, giving and supporting the work of Open Doors – the verse I love to use to describe our brothers and sisters whose names we do not know is from Hebrews 11: ‘the world is not worthy of them’:

'And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets.... There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated — the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.' (Hebrews 11:35-38)

*Names changed for security reasons


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Find out how you can take part in volunteer fundraising for Open Doors, even if you can't leave your town! There are so many ways to support the persecuted church.

 

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Support Nick

You can support Nick's fundraising goal at his JustGiving page, where you'll also find updates on his progress.

 

Nick's JustGiving page

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