Memphis based bicycle ministry inspires man in Iowa - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis based bicycle ministry inspires man in Iowa

(Source: Joe Laslo) (Source: Joe Laslo)

When you have a passion for something, it’s always inspiring when that passion helps others. Pastor Tommy Clark  had a passion for serving people, riding his bike and eating Mexican food. In 2013, while studying at the Memphis Theological Seminary, one of his class assignments called for ministry project of his choice.

He began making burritos, riding his bike and handing them out to people on that streets of Memphis; anyone who was hungry. He called it Urban Bicycle Food Ministry (UBFM) and it became a ministry to help feed the hungry and homeless in Memphis. Over the course of two years, it grew from a ministry at his home to a location at First United Methodist downtown. Today, two groups of volunteers ride on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. 

But last winter, Clark got a call from a man in Des Moines, Iowa. That man wanted to talk to Clark about his ministry and how it began.

“We had a long conversation on the phone and he was inspired by what we do and started Urban Bicycle Food Ministry Des Moines,” said Clark.

That man was Joe Laslo, a long time cyclist himself, he had just recently been in a bad bike accident.

“I nearly died, I shattered my clavicle and broke six ribs,” Laslo said. “So I decided to go to church and I felt like God was calling me to start a ministry.”

Laslo found Clark after he googled “Bike Ministry” and Memphis’ UBFM popped up. It didn’t take long for Laslo to form his own UBFM Des Moines group.  They currently ride on Thursday night’s near downtown Des Moines, and they’ve adopted the same “serve everyone who’s hungry” mentality.

“We just go up on our bikes and say ‘have you had supper tonight?’ and we just build a relationship from there,” said Laslo.

The relationships help feed people, get them access to services and in some cases can connect them with housing and employment. But it really just starts with a conversation on the street.

This week Laslo drove more than nine hours to Memphis so he could see the original UBFM in action. He hopes to take the experience back to Iowa and continue to inspire the ministry there too.

“Memphis and Des Moines have a lot of similarities. Really, the names and the faces change but need still remains the same. There’s a lot of people out there that go to bed hungry every night and they really do appreciate what we’re doing on the back of our bikes,” said Laslo.

Clark remains humble about everything, giving credit to God for helping guide those who are called to help.

If you’d like to learn more about UBFM Memphis click here.

And UBFM Des Moines also has a Facebook page.

Both groups operate entirely on donations and volunteers.

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly