An Introduction to BikeMovement Asia: The Journey Has Begun
Welcome to BikeMovement Asia and ‘Hello’ from steamy Cambodia. Two of us, Nicole Cober Bauman and Tim Showalter, have been in Cambodia for over two months now. Despite the relative length of our stay here, we have had very little time to devote to preparation for BikeMovement Asia. At the same time though, our reflection on the Cambodian – and more broadly the Southeast Asian – church is well underway. Nicole and I have talked with representatives from Church World Service – one of the oldest NGOs in Cambodia, Mennonite Central Committee representatives and many other individuals who are working closely with the church in Cambodia and SE Asia. Personally, I have had the privilege to worship with three different churches here – New Born Assembly, during my time in Phnom Penh; Ban Lung Christian Church in Ratana Kiri Province; and a small indigenous church just outside of Ban Lung in O’Chum District. But on top of our interactions with the more explicit Christian movement in SE Asia, we have been forced to consider our own brands of Christianity – and Mennonitism – in a brand new context. And so, already, we have stories and reflections to share. In that light, I want to say that ‘the journey has begun.’
For those of you who don’t know, BikeMovement Asia has been roughly in the works since last summer’s successful BikeMovement in the United States. Starting in early May, 2007, six young people from the United States and Canada will start a similar journey – this time in four different countries in SE Asia and then into southern China. While this summer’s adventure will look incredibly different than last summer’s – both from our saddles and from your desk chairs – we hope to inspire the same type of critical thinking and reflection about who we have been, who we are now and who we would like to become as a part of the global Mennonite Church. We will reflect from, inevitably, specific perspectives – so it is important that you join the conversation. Those of us who are cycling (link to bios) are young people, between the ages of 20 and 26 (I’m not sure about ages), from the US and Canada. We have all graduated with or are working on undergraduate degrees from expensive universities. We come from middle-class backgrounds and were all raised in the Mennonite Church. We are all white. We all have varying degrees of official and unofficial association with the Mennonite Church and with Christianity itself. Some of us call ourselves Christian and Mennonite, some don’t. But the Mennonite and Anabaptist Churches constitute significant parts of who we are today.
We, along with the collective Mennonite and Anabaptist Church, are on a perpetual journey to discover and re-discover the complexities of our relationships with one another and with God – in the context of the globe. BikeMovement is just that – a movement, a journey – which, because it actively participates with world around it, is forced to ask critical questions of history, identity and vision. We are embarking, and we’re inviting you to come along, on a journey into Asia. Through personal reflections, interviews and images we will attempt to share our experiences with you – who we have been, who we are and who we hope to become. We hope that you will follow along – responding to us, and with us, along the way.
This is at once, then, a greeting and invocation from SE Asia – so “Hello. We are here and hope to begin communicating soon” and “Welcome. May God grace our journey together.”
Tim Showalter – Ratana Kiri, Cambodia