Andy Hill (Part 2)
Director – For Goodness Sake
In Part 2 of our interview, Andy Hill, Director of For Goodness Sake, explains how he ended up running a bicycle touring company and discovered that solutions God gives are peaceful. He also shares how he learned to deal with those who expressed anger and bring healing to difficult solutions by seeing everyone as God's child. Read on to learn more.
What experiences of yours have prepared you to run the non-profit organization, For Goodness Sake?
When I was first approached about running the organization, the idea was a bit daunting. But having once been thrown into running a bicycle touring company at the last minute set me up for knowing I could run an organization on a practical level.
How did you end up running a bicycle touring company?
I was working for this touring company in 1993, supporting riders cycling all the way across the U.S. Somehow I became the transport coordinator – helping everyone get to and from the airports, etc. In '95 and '96, I helped with tours of the national parks. In the winter of '96, I found myself working at the head office answering calls. During this time, the company fell apart. The brother of the founder bought the company, but didn't want to run it, and the founder left. Since people had already booked tours, I stayed on and ran the whole show. I knew enough about the tours to make them happen, and it went very well. After that summer, someone else bought the company and I continued working there another two years.
What helped you succeed, and what did you learn in the process?
My reliance on God, prayer, and trust that there is always a solution to everything got me through. I learned that in the end, the solution is always peaceful. It's not a compromise; it's all-embracing and includes everybody. Quite often we don't like the solution because it doesn't fit in with our preconceived idea of what the solution should be. But if we let the problem go, the solution is already there.
Were there any challenges leading the company?
Yes. The original owner later set up a competing company and then proceeded to go out of business again. He asked us if we could run all of his tours. We said we couldn't do that, but we could buy his company and give people the option to come on our tours. He couldn't give them refunds because he'd already spent their money. But we would honor their deposit.
Instead of being honorable, he told his clients that we had aggressively taken over his company and cancelled their tours. He put the blame on us. This was my first experience of mass unhappiness, and I had a really tough summer dealing with very angry and confused customers. We were trying to do good things. I tried to help them see that it wasn't the end of the world. I had the opportunity to be gracious and graceful. I had to pray constantly to keep my composure. It taught me to be patient and understanding. It was all about healing really.
Are there any particular healing instances that stand out to you?
There was one very angry guy who really wanted to come to our place with a gun, but said he didn't know if he could get a gun on a plane. So I started to talk to him about cycling, the tours, and the Tour de France. I told him that I had been at the Tour de France in 1986 when Greg Lemond from Reno, NV became the first America to win the Tour. His teammate, Bernard Hinault, who should have been helping him win, was too competitive. They became intense rivals. But on the particular day that I stood on one of the intermediate passes on the stage to the Alpe d'Huez, Greg and Bernard went across the finish line holding hands.
As I talked to this angry customer, I told him that we were going to ride through Glacier Park across the summit of the glacier called Logan Pass and that we'd ride across it holding hands. He said, "Yeah, we'll do that," and was much more amenable to accepting the offer and tour. We did ride together a little bit on the tour, but I didn't see him in the morning on Logan, so I went on ahead and I ended up being the first one. But as I neared the top, I looked back and saw a man climbing up. I waited, and sure enough, there he was; we went across together.
What did you learn about dealing with people who are angry?
I learned not to take it personally. They had no reason to be angry at me; they didn't know me. Most people are angry because of a misunderstanding and don't really know the facts. If you know all the facts, you can make a decision. This was true of our situation. As I immersed myself in constant study of the Bible, I gained inspiration. I learned not to assume responsibility for the problem or the solution. Rather, I handed everything over to God who is truly responsible.
Anger and fear go together. Anger is an expression of helplessness – the feeling that we can't do anything about what's happening outside of us. But we can always do something: we can either feel helpless, or we can dig into our innate wisdom, which is really the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that guides us, and gain a sense of peace. The wisdom of the Holy Spirit is very different from the wisdom we try to get from our own intellect and experience, which is limited.
How has Scripture helped you work with people, both at the bike tour company and at FGS?
1 John 3:1-2 has really helped me a lot:
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
It tells us we're all children of God right now. My understanding of God is that He is a very peaceful, fair entity and influence and takes care of His children. And even though there's diversity, there really isn't any difference between us. We're all God's children. I do my best to see the true, spiritual, God-given nature of every individual and not to get caught up in whatever a person may be presenting that doesn't fit in with the true idea of God's child.