That’s what First Simple Church (FSC) of Williamsburg, Virginia, did May 10 by hosting the annual Road to Hope bicycle ride for Law Enforcement United (LEU), a charitable organization with more than 1,000 members in 40 states and Canada. Each year, law enforcement officers ride with one of LEU’s six sanctioned divisions on a three-day, 250-mile ride to Washington, D.C.
This is exactly the type of niche group that FSC was created to serve. Planted in 2012 out of Christ Community Church in Toano, First Simple’s mission is to deliver and teach a simple gospel message in a complex world. Led by founding pastor, Dr. Sam Frye, FSC seeks to reach nontraditional people groups: military, first responders, motorcyclists and hunters.
LEU’s mission is to honor the fallen, remember the survivor. To ride in Road to Hope, participants must be a certified law enforcement officer, or a survivor of an officer killed in the line of duty. Monies raised go toward sending children and surviving spouses to an annual week-long family camp where they can heal with other families whose loved ones were killed in the line of duty.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, each division scrambled with planning their own in-state ride so they could still carry out LEU’s mission. As a charter member and LEU’s chaplain, Dr. Frye understands the significance of this annual event and its positive impact on hurting families. He and his congregation stepped up to provide an alternative for LEU’s Virginia Division.
With 30 days’ notice, FSC opened its small campus and hosted both the sendoff and arrival ceremonies for more than 250 officers, survivors and support personnel from locations as distant as Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Virginia and across the Carolinas. State Senate dignitaries and executive personnel from the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPs) national headquarters in Missouri were also included.
Law enforcement officers raved about a small church’s willingness to host strangers with open arms and the love of Jesus Christ. FSC’s congregation rallied to serve the cause by making over 300 sandwiches for riders to eat at the 50-mile mark, as well as dozens of outreach crosses with inspiring scriptural verses, and cooking a full country-style fish fry and BBQ after the race.
Showing the love of Jesus also involved listening. Dr. Frye, a certified police officer, understands the pressure first responders experience. He learned that one officer on the ride had been contemplating suicide and was able to talk with that officer. Dr. Frye said, “They [riders] know they can come and talk to us, and it won’t get back to their departments.”
Dr. Frye said of taking Christ and His church to the community: “It doesn’t matter the size of your church or the number of giants in the way, as long as you trust in the ‘size’ of your God to make a difference in people’s lives, and then give all the glory to Christ, it’s simple.”
Jennifer Jones is the district administrator for South Carolina District of The Wesleyan Church.
Andrew Peterson is assistant pastor of First Simple Church in Williamsburg, Virginia.