Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 1, 2018

My Heart Takes Me Places

A defining moment — these are the words that describe what happened to my heart as I traveled by train across the Gobi Desert in 1998. As the train made its way from Ulanbator, the capital of Mongolia, to Beijing, I read the book of Acts and reflected on the movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

The last command of Jesus was simple and strategic — tell the story at home and then move toward those who have yet to hear the good news.

Although it took the stoning of Stephen to get the ball rolling, it did not take long for the church to embrace the last command of Jesus and for the movement to pick up steam. The church scattered and the gospel started to make its way across Asia Minor and beyond.

As my train rhythmically swayed its way toward Beijing, I sensed a new resolve in my heart — to move in the direction of those who had yet to hear the good news and to use my influence to motivate others to do the same. My heart was being drawn toward people with limited or no access to the gospel.

This past week I ventured to Rwanda to work with David Leatherwood, a Kingsland member who moved there to do kingdom work and who shares my heart for hard places. My friends James Meredith and Jay Jackson joined me on this kingdom adventure to strategize on how to reach those who subsist in villages along the Congo-Nile Trail in Rwanda’s Western Province on the eastern side of Lake Kivu.

Our plan — to use mountain bikes to venture into the mountains in order to connect with the people who live there. Simple. And when these bikes are not being used for this purpose, to set up a business to rent the bikes to adventurers interested in biking the Congo-Nile Trail. This will generate money to help this new ministry to become self-sustaining.

My friends and I assembled fifteen mountain bikes and outfitted them with panniers. Then we ventured out to personally see what it will take, logistically, to pull this off in this beautiful country known as the land of a thousand hills.

We began with a trip to a point on Lake Kivu where we met the boat that would take us to the starting point of our trek. A thunder storm showed up ten minutes after we did and turned our one-hour boat trip into a two-hour-plus excursion on a lake caught in the teeth of a storm. We arrived shivering and soaking wet and lost our first opportunity to visit the villages.

The next morning we had an early breakfast, packed our wet gear, and started our trek. It became immediately apparent that we had dived into the deep end of the pool as we mostly peddled and pushed our bikes up steep trails. Starting at mile-high elevation, we gained more than 1,700-hundred feet in elevation in the first mile and a half. Painful. Before the end of the day we peaked at an elevation gain of 3,900-feet. Also painful.

The people in the villages along the trail live in one of the most magnificent places I have ever visited — and one of the hardest. The sad reality is that it takes longer for the gospel to make it to people who live in hard places. And unless we are willing to be inconvenienced and do hard things, then people who live in inconvenient and hard places will likely not hear about Jesus. Very sad.

We met lots of beautiful people along a forty-mile stretch of the trail. This involved a lot of technical riding in what can only be described as an epic trail in mountain biking lingo. This was the hardest ride any of us had done to date. But, painful as it was, every mile gave us greater insight into the possibilities of reaching people.

I have learned over the years that the best insight comes when we are onsite. This scouting mission confirmed as much.

At the end of the day we sat around the table, exhausted and dirty and without much appetite but hungry to converse about how to reach the villages along the trail. We now had a better and totally realistic idea. But it all hinges on connecting with people who want to do something hard for the kingdom — whose heart is leading them to venture to inconvenient places.

Our partner has already submitted his business plan to the government. This next week a government official will visit him to look at his stable of bikes and to ask a few more questions before approving the business. Once that is done then he will set things in motion — hosting kingdom-minded adventurers who will saddle up to take the good news to hard places.

The story of Acts is still unfolding as the gospel continues to make its way to the ends of the earth. We have the incredible opportunity to be a part of that story as we join countless Christ-followers through the centuries whose heart took them to hard places. Because they were willing to do so the gospel reached us. May we allow God to use us to do the same for those still waiting to hear along the Congo-Nile Trail and beyond.


  1. Omar: That is so neat. Glad to see James and Jay going along to help the Leatherwoods. Love the pics and I can’t believe this one was harder than Chihuahua dessert trails.

    • Hey Selim. Thought about you and how much you would have enjoyed riding and meeting the people along the way. Definitely much harder than the Chihuahuan Desert.

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