I get enthused when I learn of great social enterprises that endeavour to be just in our world—to do worthy and distinguishable things in sustainable revenue-generating ways. It excites me as I watch the growing success of the Thankyou Movement and the innovation they continue to drive. Recently, it’s been the milestone success of 25,000 Spins that’s had me celebrating the cause of Craig Shipton [see photo above], from Springwood Church in south Brisbane. As of July, 25,000 Spins—a guy and his bike with some mates and their bikes in five different countries—has raised more than a million dollars for vulnerable children living in poverty. That’s $1 million—cash! For cycling on your bike, throughout the world—sign me up.
In fact, I did. Twice. On both occasions I had to commit to fundraising some heavy targets to participate in the 25,000 Spins cycling event along the Great Ocean Road, riding more than 300 kilometres each time. So it is with saddle-sore curiosity that I’ve been eager to learn and note some insights from Craig as to how he charts the success of this journey with it’s social-driven pursuit.
Step 1: Desire for something Different
Before there was an idea or a concept there was a circumstance. Craig had moved to London, like many Aussies, lured to the opportunity to work and then travel around Europe. But focusing on his career and job while living in the UK eventually brought him to a point in his life where something had to change. “To the outside observer all would have looked amazing. I worked at an investment bank. Was overpaid for what I did and travelled for pleasure every few weeks into Europe. But the adventure, spontaneous approach, surrender to God, giving back had been lost along the way.” According to Craig, “Working every day was not enough [to feel satisfied]. I didn’t know what exactly would work. I just knew I needed more than that.” Deep reflection led Craig to these conclusions. “I knew I wanted an adventure, and I knew I wanted to do something that would give back to the community.” These were the desires that eventually led to 25,000 Spins.
Step 2: Action!
Not one to sit still for long, Craig took an active step in seeking out what change might look like. “I would take my lunch break, leave the office and walk along the River Thames reading Too Busy Not To Pray. For almost four months, I spent time by the Thames praying every day about all sorts of things, as is often the case in times of uncertainty.” Eventually, ideas and desires started to come together.
Step 3: action?
When he started to think about cycling from London to Paris and getting people to sponsor him and maybe get some others to ride too, Craig’s keen to admit that it “was not a very clear idea to begin with.” He recalls that “most people thought it was silly and I, myself, didn’t think ‘yes, this is what God wants me to do’, I just thought very practically: this could probably help some people, God could bless this, and it seems like it might be a good idea.” Eventually though, the idea had to move into reality and action needed to be taken. “OK, am I going to book accommodation [and actually make something happen] or am I just going to talk about it?” The first trip was to take a group from London to Paris with a goal to raise 25,000 pounds to help solve the problem of 25,000 children who die every day from things money can solve. Hence the name 25,000spins.
Step 4: Action.
Craig has now run more than 15 cycling events for charity through the UK, France, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand with more than 900 people participating and fundraising along the way. His friendly, laid-back personality makes it look easy but he is adamant that it takes a lot of effort. “Yes, I have to take an active part and be organised, using my weekends and work breaks many months throughout the year. I can’t just sit back and do nothing—but the success is not based on my master plan.” Craig is earnest in trying to explain an important balance in his experience of following what God call us to do. “I would say that God is very much a partner in the trips. Much more than just an influencer. Every trip has some mini-miracle that isn’t from me. Another huge thing I have learnt about God is He is a massive risk taker and, given He wants us to be like Him, He desires us to stop playing life safe but to get out there. ‘Sail away from the safe harbour’ (it’s a Mark Twain quote). Love is by its nature a risk.”
Step 5: Reflection
So while Craig can look back on how his cause-fuelled adventure all began, he can see that often times all of us have ideas on what we can do to serve God. He observes that sometimes we end up quickly thinking ‘How am I going to make this happen?’ “Well, you’re not,” says Craig, “God will be the one to make it happen. Trust God, stress less, use the skills you have, even the ones you don’t have. These skills will come—they certainly had to for me.”
“Sometimes we have really good ideas but we never roll the dice. At 90 years of age, God doesn’t want any resources left un-used in us.” For Craig, this endeavour has not been without its sacrifices. “But,” he emphasises, “you have to chase after it, just like you would anything in life.”
For those hungry with a desire for something different, this sounds like very good advice.
Check out videos from the 2015 Great Ocean Road adventure, the upcoming Christchurch Classic, and much more, using the link <bit.ly/1UwLMlD>
Bryan Roberts seeks to find and share healthy life practices, though sometimes thinks of just giving in and becoming a sporty royal billionaire.