To God Be The Glory!
By Donna (& Clint Van Hooser)
My husband Clint has always loved two wheels. When we met in the late 1970’s he was riding a street bike that he had worked on all by himself and made him the envy of all the guys in our high school! When we got married a few years later and turned to more family-oriented dirt bikes and quads, Clint never lost that longing for riding back on the pavement. But with a busy life raising children, a 60 hr. a week job, a mortgage, and all the trappings of debt prevented him from having the motorcycle of his dreams.
One day I offhandedly made him the promise of getting him a Harley for his 50th birthday. Flash forward 34 years later in 2012, a few years after his 50th, while scouring classified ads looking for a project for my newly retired husband’s idle hands, I recalled that promise I’d made so many years ago. Since Clint was recovering from some major health issues I knew he really needed something to focus on during his recovery and I just really prayed the Lord would lead us to a project my husband could enjoy. Clint had found a few motorcycles that we dutifully went and looked at but none had really sparked his interest. Until the day I spotted a sweet turquoise and cream 1992 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail in the classifieds. Of course, turquoise is not only my birthstone but my favorite color as well. It was so vibrant it practically leaped off the screen at me saying “ This IS THE ONE!” I showed it to Clint and despite that we had to drive 200 miles to check it out he called on it right away.
I always have believed that the Lord causes all things to work together for Our Good and in His timing. If something is not meant to be then the door will close, and likewise if it is, the door will swing wide open! We tried not to get too excited on our way to look at this one as we had gone to look at a few bikes that certainly were not what we expected them to be based on photos or the description by the owner. But seeing it sitting in that driveway, we fell in love at first sight… and a new ministry was born. The bike had been left outside in the elements and needed some small restoration, a good cleaning and some elbow grease with a good waxing, and refreshing the motor as it had not been really ridden in years, but it was obviously well loved and taken care of by its owner.
The owner had actually passed away several years before and his son, who had a young family, could no longer keep it. How honored we felt that he would sell it to us with such a special sentimental attachment to it. We had a great report with this young man right away and we promised to give the bike a good home. Talk about an answer to my prayers! We signed the papers and loaded this new prize on our trailer heading for its new home. As I looked at the pink slip we noticed that the Harley was originally bought and registered on Oct. 21st – my husband’s birthday – in 1992, which is also the year our son was born! Think there is a coincidence there? Hmmm, with the Lord there are no coincidences! Maybe God-incidences but no coincidences!
We got the bike home and over the next several weeks while Clint was busy enjoying restoring the saddle bags, cleaning and polishing the original excellent paint, and adding some of our own nostalgic touches – like the wide beach bars and true dual exhaust – I was looking for a side car. I really wanted to add a sidecar to our bike that would give our retro-looking Heritage Softail that final fun touch! I found someone selling a bucket and frame of an undetermined year. Again, it seemed, we had found a piece of Harley history being sold by a son who had lost his father. And this young man wasn’t sure what year he had, other than it was a sidecar with a Harley decal. Clint did some on-line research on sidecars and found that Harley-Davidson had never made a sidecar for Softail models but somehow we just knew that if we could find one it could definitely be modified to fit our bike! So when we went to look at the one I found for sale we went armed with our research so we could date it and found it was a perfect original 1979 Harley Davidson sidecar!
When Clint ran the numbers on the frame and saw it was made the same year we were married, 1979, we knew it was the one meant for us! Too many ironic God-incidences with this bike that have definitely made it our most treasured project to date. We soon found a machinist who helped us make the front mounting brackets fit perfectly to our Harley frame and with some other small alterations, a matching paint job, a new white wall tire and upholstery work on the seat made this sidecar and motorcycle look like it rolled right off the Harley-Davidson assembly line! We also had a leather gas tank panel tooled with the 3 crosses on Calvary added to testify to others of our Savior’s love and sacrifice.
Clint and I have been involved in ministry work for over 20 years with church worship, music ministry, traveling outreaches, Christian Hot Rod groups, etc, and always believed we needed to seek those places where we could use each situation to touch folks for the Lord. Right away we saw this new motorcycle was a perfect tool, sent by the Lord, to reach out to an unreachable group of people by going out beyond the church walls to people who may be too broken, too hurt, to step inside a church but still need to hear about the Lord’s love and grace. It is amazing to us how this bike draws attention, and opens conversations for the Lord to use and plant seeds of hope. No way can you miss our RIDN4HM license plate and the “To God be The Glory” license plate frame on our bike and not know where we stand for Jesus.
Our own life experiences, various seasons of service, and seeing the Lord move so greatly in our own lives has taught us it’s all really about giving thanks and praising the Him! So we make it a point to witness by simply finding a way to put God’s name some place very visible on all our vehicles! You can imagine the terrific conversations that have started when people see that not only are we bikers but we are Christians and we have fun! We’ve had the opportunity to offer impromptu biker blessings, randomly pray for the needs of riders and their families, and receive opportunities for helping folks right where they are in life! We wanted to find a motorcycle ministry that cared about reaching out to people and making a real difference in their lives and we found CMA: Christian Motorcycle Association. Using what the Lord has given us, looking every day for opportunities to witness and give Him Glory, reaching out and showing others the Love of Christ- now that’s changing lives- one heart at a time.