When Alec Offenberger is lost, he consults his personal compass.
“When I’m lost I just listen and my compass tells me where to go. God tells me this is the right way.”
Having a spiritual GPS can come in handy, especially for a man named Alec who is riding his bicycle from Maine to California for a cause greater than himself. Horrified by the beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Libya as well as the ongoing violence against Christians and Muslims in the ISIS-controlled territory inside Syria, and Iraq, Alec felt he had to do something to help. He was familiar with Mercury One’s Nazarene Fund and the #NeverAgainIsNow campaign to save persecuted Christians in the Middle East and decided he would do all he could to make an impact.
(Pronounced “noon” the symbol tattooed on Alec’s leg is the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet. It stands for “Nasra” or “Nazarene” and used as a pejorative word by ISIS for Christians. ISIS uses the symbol to mark Christian homes and business in its territory.)
(Alec (second from right) and members of the Mercury One team.)
So after considerable soul searching, the twenty-five-year-old, Eagle Scout left everything behind in his native Cincinnati, Ohio, drove to Bar Harbor, Maine and on September 26 of last year, his Operation Pedal Patronage began. “My mom actually just dropped me off, she drove away and I started pedaling.”
Alec’s goal is to ride his specialized AWOL Elite bicycle across the United States, from Maine to California to raise awareness and money for the Nazarene Fund. Through his GoFundMe website, he has raised over $4,000 dollars to date but states, “I am trying to raise $25,000 because that’s the average cost to help move and support a family of five,” Alec said. “One hundred percent of what I raise goes to the Nazarene Fund.”
“But it’s not about the money,” Alec said. “It’s the message. I get to talk to people about what is going on. (I am) raising awareness and getting conversations started about this genocide.”
(Noon has now become a symbol of solidarity and hope as well as the logo for Mercury One’s Nazarene Fund.)
But Alec is not taking the direct route. His journey from Bar Harbor has taken him along the Eastern Seaboard, down the Atlantic Coast to Miami, through the Florida Panhandle and across the Southern U.S. On Wednesday, Alec dropped by Mercury One headquarters to meet with the team and to share some stories from the first half of his trip on the road. His adventure has included helping a rancher birth a cow in Richards, Texas and an attempted mugging by a transient in Miami, which resulted in Alec getting stabbed in the leg. But one of his most affecting moments came from a young child helping his mother in a diner in Poughkeepsie, New York.
“This little boy was cleaning tables for his mom and she would give him a dollar from her tips for each table he bused,” Alec said. “His usual routine was to use the money to buy something or to play video games. But instead he gave his money that day to me (for the Nazarene Fund).”
Alec is also moved by the support he has received and the diversity of the people with whom his message resonates. “I have had the privilege of meeting and to talking to people across all social classes, ethnicities and beliefs. This is something that really unites people. It is really special.”
Alec, we think you’re special. We at Mercury One are humbled and honored to be a part of your mission. Thank you for your commitment and service. May your compass always guide you. #NeverAgainIsNow!
UPDATE: Thanks to the generosity of many of you, Alec was able to surpass his $25,000 goal on Friday evening. We’re so inspired by your action! #NeverAgainIsNow