Pastor to peddle "Coast to Coast" for Mali

CADYVILLE The Rev. Bruce Overstreet, pastor of the North Country Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Plattsburgh, and his 21-year-old son, Isaac, pulled out of their driveway in Cadyville before the sun rose Monday morning. The two headed west for Clam Beach, Calif., where the pastor will begin his almost 4,000-mile Coast to Coast for Christ and Kids bike ride to encourage people to pray and give funds to help mothers and children in desperate need in Mali. Overstreet is hoping his passion for helping the women and children of the West African nation will spread as he peddles across the U.S., and donations and pledges will come in to meet his goal of raising $1 million to expand and improve the facilities of the CMA hospital for women and children in Koutiala, Mali. The Koutiala Hospital was built two years ago, and is the only facility in a 250-mile radius equipped to deal with serious gynecological, obstetrical and pediatric conditions. It is one of the two worst countries for women and children, Overstreet commented. One out of 4 children die before the age of 5, and 1 in 10 women die in childbirth. All women and children, regardless of their faith or ability to pay, are welcome at the CMA hospital where treatment is free for those who have no means. The small hospital is a bright spot in a dark place for women and children, and the addition is expected to make it considerably brighter. The North Country Alliance held a send-off service for Overstreet May 25, which church members enthusiastic about their pastors journey. This is an exciting day for Pastor Bruce and our church family, said assistant pastor the Rev. Tim Koffkey, who plans on cycling the last leg of the bike trip with Overstreet from Plattsburgh to Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Early in the service, Koffkey handed Overstreet the telephone. It was a phone call from Craig Hanscomb, director of the Koutiala Hospital. We are thinking about you out here as you launch out, said Hanscomb, as the phone conversation was sent through the church sound system. The entire hospital staff will be watching your progress on a map on the wall and we will be praying you across the United States. Overstreet has received many phone calls from Hanscomb who is ecstatic about the Bike for Mali project. Hanscomb is making arrangements for Overstreet to continue his pedaling beyond the coast of Maine. He has arranged for Overstreet to take a flight out to Mali in October to bike 250 miles from the capital city of Bamako to the hospital in Koutiala. Four-thousand miles is a daunting ride, but the 52-year-old pastor has prepared well and the support of his family and friends is expected to help. His 17-year-old daughter will keep a Web site updated and his wife, Sheryl, will work on publicity. The whole family will join him for several weeks, and his youngest son, Jeremy, a 7th-grader, will pedal along part of the ride. However, he said it will be his thoughts and prayers for the women and children in Mali that will give him the daily strength and motivation to keep on pedaling no matter how hot, cold or wet the conditions become. Though his journey has now begun, Overstreet continues to accept donations and pledges toward his goal. Whether you pledge a penny, a dollar, or any other appropriate amount, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many women and children throughout the land of Mali, he stated. Donations and pledges may be mailed to North Country Alliance Church, 7 Northern Ave., Plattsburgh N.Y. 12903, or through the Bike for Mali Web site, www.bike4mali.org. Those making donations are asked to specify if the money is a donation for general expenses or a pledge to be sent directly to the hospital. For more information about the Koutiala Hospital, visit www.koutialahospital.org.

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