“Dustin, God has given you gifts and abilities in unicycling, and we can see that He’s using that.” When Dustin Kelm’s professors pulled him aside one day, they knew that his recently won, unicycling world-championship gained him attention. Youth groups, churches, and AWANA clubs asked him to perform his unicycling talents, dynamic speaking abilities, and Christian messages. Dustin’s professors also knew, however, that he struggled to maintain good grades while pouring energy into unicycle shows. So they advised him to stop college. “You don’t have to have a college degree to do the ministry that God has called you to do.” With his professors’ encouragement, Dustin pursued his unicycle ministry full-time. Since then, he’s seen God work through him in amazing ways.
Only a few months ago, my uncle loaned me his unicycle. Riding it reminded me of Dustin. I’d first heard of Dustin about a year before, when he and his wife came to stay a few nights at the camp where I live. My dad got to have breakfast with them, but I missed them altogether. Recently, I wondered if I should feature him in one of my clay articles. From tidbits I’d already heard, I knew the unicycling missionary would have great stories. So I contacted him to find out.
As I had figured, Dustin does have great stories. One that Dustin likes to share tells of how God works through all sorts of people:
A few years ago, Dustin, his wife Katie, and their team of missionaries travelled to a place Dustin had never thought he’d perform in: Iraq. Before they arrived, the city that they would perform in had busied itself advertising his upcoming show; banners hung over the streets, and the radio and television had announced the event. The city government would sponsor the event, so, before the show, Dustin met and ate lunch with the mayor. As they ate, Dustin’s event organizer told the mayor that Dustin and Katie were Christians. The mayor was a Muslim; most people in Iraq are Muslims. But the event organizer spoke on, saying that Dustin and Katie often include a message in their performances about their faith, and then asking if they could share the gospel in this show. Astonishingly, the mayor answered “No problem!” Now, Dustin not only had the opportunity to perform in a country he’d never thought he would go to, but he could also share his faith with people who may have never heard the gospel. The mayor’s enthusiastic reply strongly hinted that God had a hand in Dustin’s show, but the next events would affirm Providence even more.
Fifteen or twenty minutes before his show, Dustin scanned the crowd waiting for him to perform and noticed that everyone from child to adult was male. Women couldn’t come because of Iraq’s cultural rules; instead, they shopped, attended business at home, or performed other chores. Among the men, only the women on Dustin’s team and one woman who worked as the mayor’s clerk could attend the show. Dustin soon heard that the mayor’s clerk would translate his message for the crowd, and he became a little nervous. He says, “The mayor had told us we could share freely, but his office was also providing the translator/interpreter, and so we thought our message might end up getting filtered or the person (the translator) wouldn’t know what we were talking about.” Not wanting the spectators to misunderstand the message, Dustin began telling the interpreter about what he’d share. About a minute later, the interpreter grinned widely and put up her hands to stop him. Then, Dustin says, she astonished him. She said, “I am a believer too. Just this morning I prayed and I asked God to give me a way to share with my own people.” Whoa! Remembering how he felt, Dustin shares that, “Right then and there I knew that God’s hand was in all this, that he was going to be protecting us, and that in an amazing twist of events, God was going to use this woman, a woman, to share the love of Jesus with 1500 or 2000 men who normally wouldn’t give her the time of day.” And she could share her faith without fearing for herself because she would be speaking Dustin’s words and not her own.
Dustin displayed a variety of unicycle skills. He performed freestyle stunts, rode a double-wheel unicycle, a 6-foot tall unicycle, a 10-foot tall unicycle, a unicycle without a seat, and conquered an obstacle course. And he shared his faith without any problems from the crowd. In fact, the crowd responded favorably. Everyone wanted to hear more, and they gathered around him to hear what else he had to say. The mayor even remarked that, “The message was great,” and invited him back. Unfortunately, Dustin has not returned due to current uprisings, but he still hopes to.
During his experience in Iraq, Dustin saw firsthand how God can work through all types of people in all types of ways. Whether an interpreter or a professional unicyclist, God can use anybody for his glory!
Throughout his travels around the globe, Dustin has had amazing encounters with people and has brought the hope of the gospel to many places. He has competed at world level unicycling competitions and has ridden his unicycle across America. Learn more about him and what he does at unishow.org.