Hello, my name is Brad Mertz and I want to share my testimony with you and a calling that I have on my life. I was raised in a Christian home but always just went through the motions, never really taking my faith seriously. For most of my life I used and abused drugs and alcohol trying to escape the realities of life and the guilt that I felt from letting my family and children down, I was a mess and it all hit rock bottom on Father’s day when I was picked up on an outstanding warrant. It was then that I was sentenced to 1 yr. in Menard Correctional facility. I started attending church services and bible study classes and it was at that time I asked Jesus to come into my life, but as I was praying a “please help me God” prayer one evening a light like a thousand neon lights lit up my cell and I heard nothing audible but in my heart I heard God say “That he would never leave me nor forsake me”. That was it from that point on my life changed, I could feel the strength, courage and healing power of Jesus working in my life and the “Sleeping Giant” of the Holy Spirit was alive in my life. It was amazing the peace that I felt, the compassion and love I suddenly had for others, and the “Word of God” was opened up and revealed to me in ways I never possible. Many nights’ tears rolled down my cheeks as the love of Christ and his sacrifice for me became a reality to my life. For the first time in my life I felt a purpose, hope and the material things of this world became insignificant to me. As I was counting the days down to being released it was a very scary time in my life as I felt that I would rather spend the rest of my life in that cell with Christ as opposed to being free and spending one day without him. Since my release the presence of God is alive in my life and though I have lost everything I feel that I have gained it all! God has truly shown me “The Kingdom” and it is within us all. Until we have God in our lives we have nothing, but the very moment we have God, we have all that there is in the world.”I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God”.(Gal.2:20) I am currently homeless but I have no fear of the future and I am no longer tormented by my past, I have given up all comfort in exchange for a cross, I have learned obedience through suffering and this cross that I am carrying has brought me to my knees but Christ is there just as he promised. His eyes pierce my heart into knowing that I must go on. Not in my strength but in his. I must carry my cross all the way to the end! I believe that I have a calling to bicycle across this country and spread the good news of the gospel one pedal at a time, to proclaim that there is hope and there is a God that loves you! I need the support of area churches to help me on my journey as I plan to “Ride for Christ” the 4,200 miles across this country planting seeds and proclaiming the “Good News” everywhere I go. I have so much compassion for the hurting and needless suffering that is going on in the world today, I have been there and I have my story to tell, his story to tell, God is the ultimate definition of truth and the only way to true healing is living moment by moment with him. I truly believe that every step toward self-sufficiency is a step away from God. My goal is to raise the $1000 I need to upgrade my bike and for the provisions and equipment necessary to ride 4,200 miles. I would also like to partner with a group or organization to raise money and bring awareness to their cause. Please help me to carry this cross!