It’s been so cold lately- I’ve been worried about this lady. Wondering where she is and how she’s doing. Once, someone read about her on the Ooze and shared their experience with her. I wonder what other lives she may have touched in her travels.
It was Saturday afternoon, sunny, hot and breezy, so Bev and I thought we would take a drive into the Maryland mountains, maybe find an inexpensive hotel and then get a nice dinner somewhere. My car was having battery problems so we decided to take her big van. Since that car has these great big head rests (six of them) that tend to block my rear vision, I decided to lay all the seats flat.
We packed a cooler with cold drinks and ice (something we never think to do) and hit the road. We got a later start than we would’ve liked but that’s pretty much SOP with the Beyers. By the time we got to the scenic mountain area of west-central Maryland it was already after 3:00 pm. Bev said that we might have a hard time finding a hotel and she was right, everyone was booked up. The folly of our intent was apparent to us and, disappointed, we headed on home.
We still had about an hour’s drive ahead of us when, rounding down a steep hill, we were surprised by a lone figure walking along the side of the road. It looked to be an older woman and she was pushing a bicycle. She was carrying at least four bags what looked like a tattered shirt wrapped over the top of her ball cap, kind of like a scarf. Her appearance was everything one would expect of a homeless person and she looked out of place in the middle of farming country. As we drove by she began to jerk her thumb in the classic hitch-hiking style. Since she couldn’t let go of the handle bar we almost missed the gesture.
“She needs a lift.” Bev said. We continued on down the hill and I concentrated on keeping the big car on track through the S-curves.
“You’re kidding” I said.
“I think we should turn aroun?” said Bev
“Hmmm.” That’s all I said and we drove on. As it was, there were no turn-outs or side roads prestent. After a couple of miles I made a right onto a farm lane.
“We’re going back, then?” Bev asked.
I had been thinking of that scripture where Jesus said that when he was hungry someone fed him, when he was sick someone visited, when he was naked someone clothed him. I was imagining him saying to me; “When I was hitch hiking, pushing my bike and carrying a heavy load on a hot day, you didn’t stop to pick me up.”
“That was you, Jesus? I thought that was an old lady!”
When we got back to where we could see her trundling down the hill we pulled into a nearby drive and waited. There was no shoulder to the road. She must have recognized our car or figured out what we were doing because when she saw us she began jogging down the road, her over loaded bags swinging and her bike wobbling back and forth.
She was a skinny little thing, wearing too-big athletic clothes; sweat pants, sneakers, socks, sweat shirt and ball cap. The sweat shirt said “Messiah College”. Her sun glasses were as big as scuba goggles and her skin was sun browned and wrinkled, like and old life guards. In spite of the heat and her recent exertion she was as dry as a Methodist’s pantry.
As it turned out that she liked to be called Sherri and she had been riding her bike from Hagerstown, a good 20 miles behind us, when she got a flat tire. She’d been having a lot of flats lately and someone told her that there was a Wal-Mart 10 miles on up the road in Frederick, where she might get them to fix her bike (seeing as how she had bought it recently from another Wal-Mart). She said that she had been praying hard for someone to come and pick her up. She blessed and thanking us both for coming through.
We stowed her bike easily in the back of the van, where there was plenty of room with the seats already down. She said the bike was new but it looked a little beat up. It was the same brand as my first bike, a Roadmaster, except hers was the girl’s version. The rear wheel looked bent. We opened up one of the middle seats for her and she was surprised and grateful as we handed her an ice cold Diet Coke Plus (with vitamins!) from the cooler. We cranked up the A/C and headed off to find Wal-Mart.
As we drove she told us, in a genteel Southern draw, that she was originally from Richmond Virginia and had raised two daughters, both now in their thirties. She now had grandsons and granddaughters and they lived in different parts of the country. For the past eleven years she had been riding her bikes (she’s been through quite a few) across the country, from Florida to California and up into Canada, preaching God’s word. Raised a Methodist, she was now Pentecostal by choice and a speaker of tongues. Standing on street corners in small towns and big cities she preached a sermon of salvation from eternal damnation through the acceptance of Christ’s love.
She rarely slept indoors and tried to coordinate her travels with the seasons, going south in wintertime. She asked about Baltimore and Washington where she said (amazingly!) that she felt a lot of concern for all the homeless people that she heard lived there. Many of the homeless that she met on her travels seemed to be so hopeless and this saddened her.
She was very much interested in the two of us, our jobs, our family and our faith, but in a sensitive and genuine way. She never pried or preached. She said that she might visit the church we attend outside of DC and asked when we held services. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see her some day.
We parked at Wal-Mart and helped with her bags as she chained up the bike. I asked her if she was OK with money, if she even had enough for a new bicycle inner tube. She hemmed and hawed a bit so before she could answer I asked if it was alright if we could contribute to her ministry. I gave her some cash and she was obviously grateful. She then surprised me by asking suddenly if this was something that I would like for her to repay some day. Humbled, I told her no, that it was part of my tithe, since it was obvious that she took Jesus’ commission to heart.
As Bev and I drove on down the highway, we couldn’t help but chuckle. God sometimes has a very dry sense of humor. What a coincidence. that on the spur of the moment, we decided to take a day trip to western Maryland, in the big van (which we never take on road trips), with the seats down, spare cash in our pockets and a cooler of cold drinks in back. How unfortunate for us that there were no hotel vacancies in the area (most probably because of our own chronic tardiness) which resulted in our having to drive down that one particular road, so far from home. How gallant of us, to grudgingly turn around and help someone more ‘unfortunate’ than we were.
Somehow this older woman is able to travel across this huge land, cheerfully spreading the Good News, carrying everything she owns on her back. Eleven years of pedaling up mountains and through deserts, and she is as clean and bright as a new penny, sharp as a tack. It was obvious that God looks out for her and I bet she wasn’t the least bit surprised when we came back for her. We were just two more supporting actors stepping on to her God-directed stage.
I can imagine her praying as she rides or walks along our busy highways, “OK Lord, I wonder who you will be putting into my life next” – confident that she is safely in His hands.
And I can imagine God smiling down on her, “Hmm…Looks like Sherri is having a little trouble today. Who can I send…who can I send…..Oh! I know…the Beyers! I’ll bet they’re just wasting another Saturday. I’m sure they could benefit from a little time spent with one of my faithful servants.”
“Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
In her passion for God, and her love for others, neither does Sherri.
I Have an Article on the Ooze About Sherri
Some of you may remember the story about Sherri, one of God’s itinerant workers and how we met one day in Western Maryland. She’s the lady that has devoted her life to spreading the Gospel across this country on the back of a bike. TheOoze has decided to publish this story and it comes out today; “The Apostle Sherri: Bicycle Disciple”. Please check it out on: http://www.theooze.com/articles/article.cfm?id=1818
If you’ve never visited that web site I think you’ll be pleased with what you find there.
An Update on Sherri
This couple read he article on the Ooze and sent this e-mail. What an amazing ‘coincidence’, eh? Since July 14th Sherri has traveled from Frederick, Maryland to Seneca, South Carolina, over 547 miles. Gott ist Gutt! (For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Sherri you may read the original story here; https://sharpiron.wordpress.com/2007/07/14/the-apostle-sherri/ )
I wanted to share an experience Ceph and I had over the weekend. We left on Sunday morning to see Ceph’s mom for her Birthday. It was a day trip and we always go the back way up 123 through Gainesville to Seneca and then Easley. On the way up outside Seneca, Ceph had to swerve the car to miss hitting an older lady that obviously homeless. She had long grey/blonde hair, baggy clothes and pushing a bicycle. She had everything she owned attached to the bicycle handlebars. We both commented on her appearance and the fact she was pushing the bicycle. We spent about 5 hours at his mom’s and left about 2:00pm to return home. We are heading towards Tacocca and were amazed to see the same lady pushing her bicycle again down the road. She had travelled about 25 miles in 5 hours. Both us said at the same time we should pick her up. There weren’t any turnarounds so Ceph parked in a driveway and waited on her to get close to the car.
I personally have never picked up a hitchhiker but something said pick her up. We had the minivan with the seats down and knew her bicycle would fit perfectly. (the parallel here is amazing – CB) If you know the area, there’s nothing for miles until you get to Gainesville. She didn’t give us her name but explained she got the calling from the Lord about 11 years ago and she traveled from place to place preaching the gospel. She didn’t have a destination and we explained we lived in Roswell and that was ok for her. She wanted to go to a 24 hour Walmart. Ceph said that the Roswell police weren’t too keen on varagrants and Cumming might be a better location. We talked the remainder of the trip about her children, her faith and travels. After we let her out in Cumming, I haven’t been able to get her off my mind. Ceph and I both said, God wants us to be thankful for the little things we have. I guess she was our angel that day. This morning I wokeup thinking about her again and did a google search on “homeless lady on bicycle”. I immediately got a response from another couple that had exactly the same experience. This article is from theooze.com.
Ceph and Elaine