A Mile or a Mite

Brad Aldridge, a former Young Life staffer and now pastor at Christ Community Church in Paris, Texas, set out on his bike from Paris and traveled more than 1,000 miles (climbing 20,285 feet) to Young Life’s Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, Colo., raising nearly $11,000 in camp scholarships for area kids. Aldridge pedaled his way to Frontier over 13 days in a ride that was both physically depleting and spiritually exhilarating. And along his route, Aldridge met old friends of Young Life and new supporters too.

Aldridge met one Young Life alumnus, Todd, at the Dairy Queen in Shamrock, Texas. Todd is a 39-year-old with Down syndrome. The two were talking about Aldridge’s ride when Todd asked if Aldridge had a gun to protect himself from bad guys. When Aldridge shared that his defense was prayer for God’s protection, Todd responded, “Well that’s good, but if that doesn’t work, you need to shoot them!”

Aldridge went on to tell him that he was riding to a camp in Buena Vista owned by Young Life. At the mention of the name, Todd jumped up and gave Aldridge high fives and hugs, saying, “I LOVE Young Life. I do Young Life. I go to camp called Woodleaf. They even made me a junior leader! Me and you, we be Young Life buddies!”

Like Todd, Aldridge has special memories of Young Life camp. He met the Lord at Windy Gap (a Young Life camp in North Carolina) in the summer of 1978 because of a leader who persisted, telling Aldridge, “I’d do anything for you to go to camp.” Thirty-two years later, Aldridge was doing all he could to make certain that kids like Todd could go to Young Life camp.

He was explaining that goal to a waitress at the La Junta, Colo., Pizza Hut unaware of two diners listening in. Later as Aldridge was at his bike organizing his gear for the next leg of his journey, two elderly ladies quietly approached, startling him.

“Excuse me,” said a petite woman. “I wasn’t trying to listen to your conversation with the waitress, but I overheard what you said. I think it’s wonderful what you are doing. More kids today need to know Jesus.”

With that, the woman reached into her pocketbook and pulled out two crumpled dollar bills. “I know it’s not much, but I want to help those kids hear about the Lord.”

Aldridge was touched by this simple gesture. “I could tell by her attitude and actions, if she’d had more, she’d have given it. Of all the generous gifts I received, none were more significant than hers. She gave what she had.”

Aldridge had hundreds of miles ahead of him to consider her generosity. “It was a sacrificial gift like the widow’s mite or boy’s sack lunch that Jesus used to feed 5,000. Two dollars isn’t enough to change a kid’s life until it’s placed in the hands of the Lord.”

Aldridge replaced the donation with two dollars from his wallet. He’s framed those two crumpled bills with the photo of the donor. Aldridge said, “It’s a reminder to be faithful, trusting that it’s not what we do, it’s what the Lord does with what we give Him — whether that’s two dollars or a thousand miles. We’re just called to do what we can.”