A little apprehensive, perhaps hesitant, or even scared…these words might describe the feelings I had when I found myself in the presence of bikers. I will never forget my first experience with bikers as a child. The bikes were loud and the bikers were frightening. Needless to say, I learned my feelings from parents as they said, “Don’t look at them and they might leave us alone.” For all I knew, they could have been Christians; but the stereotype of mean and irreverent bikers overshadowed any possible thought that they might be Christian bikers. I got a feel of a bike in my hands when I was a teenager. A friend allowed me to ride his dirt bike around the farm. What a thrill! I never quite got over that feeling; and eventually, in adulthood I bought my first motorcycle and have never looked back. Actually, I have looked back, reminisced and reflected on my viewpoint of bikers.
The compassion that God gave me for bikers started with an invitation to mingle with a group of radically changed individuals. A biker from my congregation asked me if I would like to meet a bikers’ ministry in Dothan, Alabama. I agreed and soon met some of the roughest, yet loving group of Christian Bikers that one could ever meet. Yes, the bikes were loud and the beards were long, but the love I felt that day superseded any hesitancy. I learned that looks do not give a good description of the heart. Black leather, loud bikes and long hair can describe a Christian to the same extent as a suit, finely cut hair, and a meek countenance depicts a God-fearing person. The bikers took me in and made me feel at home. Soon, I found my erroneous, preconceived mind-set about bikers diminishing. Before long, I found myself seeking out any biker, regardless of their relationship with Christ. I was inclined to make conversation with bikers because I saw it as an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Sometimes I found they were believers but often they were not. Yet, because I had broken down the walls of prejudice, I could speak freely. In fact, God led me to begin my church’s first B.A.D. Sunday (a.k.a. Biker Appreciation Day). The second year of the event we invited, now deceased, Barry Mason who was a former Hell’s Angel who shared his life’s story. On the front row of the sanctuary were a group of 1%ers. A biker by the name of Indian, who was their sergeant of arms, heard the Gospel message that day and in time accepted Christ into his life. Indian later shared that he was packing a pistol in church that Sunday! Not too long after his conversion, he was instrumental in leading a Buddhist female biker to Christ. Look at what can be accomplished when we put aside our intolerances.
It was not long before I patched out with the Bikers For Christ and connected with this ministry that was concerned about their fellow bikers. These brothers and sisters had one goal in mind—“to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” Isn’t this what Christians are supposed to do? Of course! The Scriptures state in Mark 16:15, “…Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” The term “world” does not limit our ministry focus to foreign countries, but encompasses our own communities as well, which includes the world of bikers. According to this Scripture, we have just as much an obligation to minister to bikers as we do to persons who speak other languages.
I am different now from when I was a child who huddled down in the back seat of our family car as bikers raced by in a thunderous roar. Now, when I hear a group of bikers coming next to the car my heart begins to pound as I picture myself riding with them. I pray for them and wonder what past life they might have lived or if anyone has told them about Jesus who saves us from a life of sin. And at the same time, I wonder if they just might be my brother or sister in Christ!
Mark D. Berry, Ed.D is the district superintendent of the Alabama South District Church of the Nazarene and a member of the Bikers For Christ.