With hopes to give back to local children, Fargo teacher, Paul Shol is cycling across the country, raising money for education, and sharing Jesus Calling along the way.
Paul: My Name is Paul Shol, I am 29 years old. I am a teacher up in Fargo, North Dakota and I am doing an awesome, exciting bike trip this summer, very excited, cross country bike trip starting in Oregon and going all the way over to Maine.
I think we all have opportunities every day, to make a difference and some of us make a difference without even realizing it. In fact, all of us do, just by being witnesses of Christ in our world here. Just our actions and attitudes and so forth, but this might be one great opportunity for me to make a difference, a big difference, in one big event.
Narrator: Welcome to the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast. Paul Shol is a 29-year old math teacher who grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. He had always dreamed of making a cross-country bike trip. However, this dream was not only fueled by accomplishing that physical task, but he also wished to make a lasting difference with the trip for his local community and for the lives of those he would encounter along the way. Here’s Paul:
Dreaming of a Fund-Raising Cycle Trip
Paul: When I first started to think about the trip, I think it actually was a long time ago, I don’t know 5, 6, 7, 8 years ago, I recognized a couple of people that were going cross country on their bikes and we had stopped for lunch or something and they were coming by and they stopped too and anyways I made some effort. I probably ran them down or something, I was so excited to see people coming through with bike packs on, I was like “Oh my gosh what are you doing? This looks awesome!” They told me they were going from one side of the country to the other and I was just amazed. I just thought what a cool idea. I’ve always really liked biking. I always enjoyed outside, I’ve always enjoyed camping and that sort of thing, so that’s how it kinda started. It just fits into who I am. It’s going to be very exciting.
I plan on doing a cross country trip. It will go from Oregon; so Pacific Ocean over to Bar Harbor Maine. So Atlantic across the Northern States. It’s gonna start on July 5th.
I plan on averaging, oh, about 80-100 miles a day. Some days it might be more aggressive than others, depending upon the terrain or the weather, you know, but I hope to average about 80-100 a day.
Narrator: Paul knows the trip won’t be easy, but he hopes the mission of the trip and what he aims to accomplish will inspire others to lend their help and support. His church is behind him, as are his immediate community of family and friends. Again, Paul.
Biking to Support Children with Basic Needs
The Legacy Children Foundation is a non-profit organization up here in Fargo that’s just awesome, just awesome. I think they make a world of difference for the kids that they support. A little bit about their program, they were started a few years ago, 5-6 years ago as a local organization right here in Fargo that supports 42 kids at the moment and just continues to grow as they get funds–funded more and more. And it started by another school teacher, a friend of mine at first Lutheran church. She used to teach at the middle school that feeds into my high school. Mary Jean is her name and she started the program. She noticed that there were kids, that there wasn’t enough support at the school, so there needed to be something else outside of the school. There needed to be some sort of organization setup to help kids that needed that extra support.
Legacy supports the kids academically, that’s the first thing. They make quite a difference in their academics. They hire college age kids, we have got three colleges up here in Fargo Moorhead; NDSU, North Dakota State University, Concordia College and Moorhead State. So the college age kids are the mentors and academic coaches for the high school and middle school kids and so they meet with the middle school and high school kids before and after school each day of the week, working on school work, keeping grades up and keeping up with their classes. Obviously the younger kids get so much out of it, but the college age kids do too. You know, the younger kids would rather listen to college age kids than to one of us teachers or adults. So they really look up to their mentors. So they support them academically–100% of LCF kids have graduated, that’s pretty awesome. Not only that, what is so cool about this program is that they help the kids develop in a well-rounded way. It’s beyond just academics. So kids have many opportunities to grow in character, character development.
I guess behind it all, Legacy becomes like another family for these kids. There is a family of people, who watch out for them, who help hold them accountable who give them the support they need. So I really feel like it’s just an overall awesome program. My goal is to raise 25 thousand dollars for Legacy and I met that goal a couple of weeks ago and I am above that goal now. I’ve had such a great response from the community. I’ve really really enjoyed talking to people and telling them about my effort and they have been pretty darn interested. Both the Fargo Moorhead community and the Fergus Falls community so some of the people back home, have been pretty excited to help support it.
Paul Shares Jesus Calling on His Journey
So I thought why stop there, let’s try to make a difference along the way, that’s where I thought, well could I speak, could I share my story, really, to people along my route. In hopes that, you know, just by sharing my story and people seeing my passion and energy and excitement, enthusiasm for what I am doing, that they might get a feeling of that as well. You know, like let’s do this, let’s make a difference and get a sense of making a difference. What is God calling me to do? How can I wake up each morning and know that God wants to be part of my day and know that by having God in my daily presence, that I will make a difference for others, just by being who I am. Then looking for opportunities to actually, consciously thinking about, who can I serve today, how can I help others? So I hope that my trip and my opportunities to speak, by my meeting with people, might just inspire people to think about that. So that’s my goal with speaking. I hope to speak about that and that leads into Jesus Calling Book.
How Jesus Calling Impacted Paul
I got my first copy of Jesus Calling from my Aunt Audrey and Aunt Fay, my great Aunts in Fergus Falls. I was at their house for Thanksgiving or Easter or something like that. I don’t know, I saw the book, I opened it up and started looking at and they noticed me looking at it or something and they asked me if I would like it. I said “really?” and they said, “Yes we would love to give this book away.” And they do, they give this book away all the time and so that’s how I got my first copy, and the top two things that affect me that I get from the book, enjoying peace in his presence, the double P’s. Peace and Presence. And it, just, oh man. You know as you grow in your faith you just learn a lot of things and you just continue to learn and this has been, like hit me in between the eyes about how to find peace and presence every day with God. Especially that presence piece. I’d say that’s the number one. I think it speaks to me, as I have heard others say, differently every day. You know, the devotionals are obviously different every day. But it seems to somehow say something that’s like, that’s what I’m struggling with right now, or that’s an anxiety I have right now. I’m nervous about that right now or I’m scared about this or why is life kind of tough right now? Why am I facing these trials? There’s plenty of devotionals in here that talks about trials and to give thanks for trials. So the book speaks to me in a lot of ways in ways that pretty much are endless, because they keep speaking to me in ways that every day is just different.
An Ambitious Goal
The majority of the reason for it being part of the trip is to give it, to just give it. I would just love to leave a huge trail of books. I would love to use this effort, my physical effort, translate it, into books. Like I think of like every 100 pedals, that’s a book. That’s what I equate it to. If I could just, every mile is worth a book somehow. If I could get a book to somebody for every town once a day. If I could give a 100 books to a community. That would be so worth it, it would be so so worth it.
Jesus Calling has resonated with me like a gong, just like boom, so I just so want to see this book placed in other people’s hands. And so that’s my second effort, my second effort is to fund-raise for books and ship those books out to towns along my route and gift them, just gift them, give it away and say this is, I hope this is meaningful to you like it has been to me.
What I’m most excited about is the opportunity to make a difference. Opportunity to intentionally make a difference and unintentionally make a difference. In giving my effort and time for the communities that I’m riding through and people for God’s work, you know, doing his work and bringing his presence. The opportunity hopefully to bring his presence to people, I love that chance. That is just awesome.
Narrator: Paul is embarking on an incredible journey; not only physical, but spiritual. His great heart for his community is matched only by his desire to help others find what he’s found through the words and inspiration of Jesus Calling.
Our featured passage today comes from the June 13th entry of the Jesus Calling Audiobook:
I am creating something new in you, a bubbling spring of Joy that spills over in others’ lives. Do not mistake this Joy for your own, or try to take credit for it in any way. Instead, watch in delight as My Spirit flows through you to bless others. Let yourself become a reservoir of the Spirit’s fruit.
Your part is to live close to Me, open to all that I am doing in you. Don’t try to control the streaming of My Spirit through you. Just keep focusing on Me as we walk through this day together. Enjoy My Presence, which permeates you with Love, Joy and Peace.
Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.
Next time on the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast, we hear from Emily Ley as she discusses how she found grace when she abandoned the fruitless pursuit of perfection.
To follow Paul along his trip or to find out more about how to help him, please visit the “Paul’s Legacy Tour” facebook page for more information. Look for upcoming updates from Paul on JesusCalling.com/blog as he shares stories from his trip.