Journey of a lifetime

Marten Holmes shared his faith with travellers he met along the way

It wasn't the journey Marten Holmes originally had in mind. Last autumn, his plan was to ride a bicycle from John O'Groats to Land's End. But his recurring heart problems put an end to that.

"I decided that, rather than focusing on what I can't do – which I had done for the last few years – I would focus on what I can do," explains Marten.

"I decided to buy a motorbike and do the trip with an engine."

The result was an ambitious ride to visit the four corners of Britain, stopping at the four cardinal points of the compass.

"I've always been up for a challenge and adventure," he said. "In some ways, my real journey started some 40 years ago. My sense of adventure has taken me to many different countries and brought many varied opportunities – canoeing, climbing and mountain biking to name just a few. It also got me into a fair bit of trouble at times.

"In my 20s I started experimenting with drugs, which didn't fit well as a submariner in the Royal Navy so I decided to quit the Navy whilst I had a choice.

"That decision would lead to another much bigger decision – and the real journey began. At this time, my parents became Christians and began not only to talk about how Jesus can change your life, but to demonstrate it too. I found it embarrassing and annoying.

"However, I couldn't deny the changes in them so I decided, secretly, to investigate further. I started reading the Bible with an open mind and, whilst there were many things I didn't understand, there was so much more that I did. I understood that God loved me deeply and, whilst all the wrong things I'd done hurt Him and had erected a barrier between us, He'd also done something to remove that barrier.

"That something was Jesus. He became a man and, by living a perfect life on earth, Jesus was qualified to take the punishment that I deserved. This work happened when He died on the cross and came back to life three days later.

"When I accepted God's love and forgiveness, I experienced a fresh start. I began a new journey and a new adventure."

Recently, this ambitious motorbike trip was part of a sabbatical from Marten's work as an Evangelist with OAC Ministries (Open Air Campaigners).

Marten also commemorated 20 years as an OAC Evangelist which involves sharing his faith in such diverse situations as New Age festivals and school assemblies.

"In some ways, the four corners bike ride was a pilgrimage. I was planning to pray about the areas on my travels. Also, I knew there would be opportunities to meet and speak with different people."

That's precisely what made this journey so remarkable. Bikers attract the interest of a lot of different people and many want to know what motivates a biker, especially one taking this sort of route.

"Marten had opportunities to share his perspective with like minded people staying at hostels. Often, they were seeing the country themselves. He was able to distribute close to a hundred copies of 'My Journey' which he had written for this trip.

Also, his four corners bike ride blog appeals to a variety of people. It captures the imagination as he describes everything from practical advice such as avoiding sneezing while wearing a helmet, to thought provoking spiritual matters.

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