FORMER SPARTAN TO CYCLE FROM BELGIUM TO INDIA FOR CAUSE
LANGLEY, British Columbia – Former Trinity Western men’s soccer player Joel Friesen (Calgary) is less than two months away from embarking on an unprecedented cycling adventure that will take him and a friend from Belgium to India with the goal of raising funds to help free women and children in India and Nepal from situations involving sexual exploitation.
Friesen, who played with the Spartans in 2013 and 2014, will be joined by Brad Dornian, who is studying at Columbia Bible College, for what they anticipate will be a five-month, 14-country and 10,000 kilometre journey across Europe and into Asia.
In conjunction with Lighthouse Voyage – a non-profit organization that was started by TWU student David Punnamannil and whose main purpose is to “bring hope, freedom and new life for women and children in the brothels, slavery and slums of India” – the cycling duo is raising awareness and funds through their “Into the Silent Planet” campaign.
The goal for the campaign is to raise $20,000, which will go through Lighthouse Voyage directly to two local organizations, Believers Active Mission and Mercy Missions, which are already established in providing care across India and Nepal. So far, the Into the Silent Planet campaign has raised $4,000.
“Last summer I had a huge identity crisis,” Friesen said. “I was working on my own in Edmonton, doing water and sewer construction and I wasn’t really into it and was just trying to figure out what my passion was. I had two things put on my heart: travel and social justice for the sexually exploited. So I thought, ‘why don’t I do a bike ride?’ I had this healthy sense of peace and fear. I hadn’t really had any fear in my life before and something about this – to do something that actually scared me a bit – seemed right.”
For the adventurous pair, they are trying to play a part in helping raise awareness and funds to help those women and children who have been victims of sexual exploitation both abroad as well as closer to home.
“This is going on everywhere and all the time,” Friesen said. “We just want to encourage and challenge people to look around for ways they can have an impact in these areas. It’s simple and it doesn’t always take a lot of money. It’s about connecting with the right people and becoming aware and actually deciding that this is something worth investing time and money into.
“It’s about the freedom of all people. That’s spiritual. That’s emotional. That’s physical. That’s not being trapped in a room and being driven around in vans without a choice of where you’re going. People have the power to change this.”
Friesen and Dornian will have occasional help and companions along their journey, but the cross-continent trip, which will see them leave for Europe on June 20th, will largely be just the two of them and their bicycles.
“It’s most likely to be a pretty solitary ride,” Friesen said. “But if people want to join and are passionate about the cause, we’re very open to talking to people.”
The name Into the Silent Planet is a reference to a C.S. Lewis novel titled Out of the Silent Planet. In the novel the Silent Planet has become corrupt and evil. Those living on the other planets are aware of the current condition of the Silent Planet, but choose to let it to remain as it is. In a similar manner, we in the Western world tend to be the ones living comfortably from a distance, often turning a blind eye to the evil and exploitation experienced in other parts of our world. We do not want to turn our backs any longer. This is our journey into the Silent Planet. (from the Into the Silent Planet website)
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