Winning people to Christ

Dec. 07, 2013 @ 06:34 PM

To Bikers for Christ members like Robert Newton, the old anthem by Christian contemporary artist Steve Camp also says a lot about their mission.

They run close to Hades, and that’s the way they like it.

They don’t mind leaving the comforting “sounds of chapel bells.” Theirs is an active, dynamic faith that reaches out to some of the toughest guys on earth: other bikers.

The Flat River Chapter of Bikers for Christ also has a heart for reaching out to anybody.

Newton said Bikers for Christ members of more than a dozen North Carolina chapters, plus other chapters in nearly every state and 14 foreign countries, do make friends in the biker world.

They are also taught to serve in the churches wherever they’re at, to be responsible mature Christians although they are also true road warriors.

Having inroads to the biker world does not come by being preachy, nor is it by being timid about what they believe. Being real, standing up and having a big heart that can serve anybody and be there in the best and worst of times — that’s the test.

“The example you live is better than anything you can say,” Newton said. “We do try to share Christ at every opportunity we can, though.”

An honest and open boldness to share is what caught the attention of Rev. Eddie Mauldin, the Stovall Baptist Church pastor, about four years ago.

He and a friend happened by a Bikers for Christ kiosk booth at a local Harley-Davidson dealership event. What they saw led them to join up.

“We saw them working a booth at Shelton’s Harley-Davidson, and we were very impressed with what they were doing,” Mauldin said. “They were consciously trying to win people to Christ, and we just loved seeing that. To be honest, that’s our goal.”

They go more than a few extra miles to biker events. Bikers for Christ members have been seen at hospitals when a motorcyclist, club member or not, is injured. That’s their Downed Biker Ministry.

“We are there, and I think that causes a lot of respect for us,” Newton said. “They know that we’re there for them, and we care about them no matter who they are.”

Patty Ayers said she loves her husband’s biker group, and she’s a member also — complete with a road name.

The two, along with about 20 other members, volunteer at various church events including the unity breakfast events that are organized quarterly in the area.

“My road name is Dragonfly,” Ayers said. “My husband’s road name is Spatch, short for spatula,” she said of Clarence Ayers.

“He came in to help prepare for a unity breakfast one morning and his spatula broke,” she continued. “Next time, he brought his own Pampered Chef spatula, and Pastor Ed said he drew it out like a violin. They started calling him Spatch.”

Clarence Ayers rode with numerous groups, as many of the Bikers for Christ members did, like Outlaw, Hell’s Angels and the One-Percent Club.

“I hung around a number of groups in my early years,” he said. “Then I came back to Christ. I was surprised to learn that I could ride and also serve God. It is really amazing to me where I can go and serve God. It opened up a lot of opportunities for me to minister.

“Many of those clubs invite us to their events, and it says a lot,” he added. “You never know when you might be able to reach out and share Christ with one person. And it is worth it, for that one person.”

Patty Ayers said she is both proud and humbled to wear the Bikers for Christ vest and ride with her husband, who gave her the Dragonfly name.

“The vest reminds me of what I stand for,” she said. “I have such a love for Christ and other people, to share Christ with them. This is a wonderful ministry. We love the Lord. My husband has the tattoos and beard, all that — and it has become an opportunity to bring the love of Christ into places where many are not able to go.”

In the straight-laced business world, their appearances might suggest an undisciplined lifestyle. The truth is Bikers for Christ actually work on a vigorous discipleship program, working on the inner man instead of outward appearances.

They are to have a heart of true, personal faith in Christ. Prospective new members actually undergo a six-month discipleship program to make sure their dedication to be faithful is real, as Kerry Coleman is discovering now.

Coleman’s biker story is not unusual. His mother tried to instill Christian church values, but he took more after his dad. As a teenager he lived for himself. He’s returned to faith, but with a new vision for what it really means. He applied for permanent membership with Bikers for Christ about a month ago.

“I got my first motorcycle at the age of 6,” Coleman said. “I was 22 when I became a Christian.

“I’ve been going to the biker church,” he added, referring to an Oxford area church for bikers. “I still didn’t have the fulfillment in the Lord that I needed, so I’m going for it. I guess you could say it’s a calling.”

Bikers for Christ teach members to be the best, most involved members at their church. That means Coleman will increase his involvements at the biker church because of the added involvement with his biker group.

Tim Fontaine, a regional elder with Bikers for Christ, said that his biker name story says a lot about how his life was changed.

The short story is he missed a turn, making the U-turn signal brought on the name U-turn. It might have happened more than once.

“I meant to do it,” Fontaine said, joking. “You know, it also means I made a U-turn for Christ.”

Fontaine’s background, though, includes a past with the One-Percent Club, some truly hardcore bikers, before trading that exclusively awarded one-percent patch for a Bikers for Christ sword and Bible version.

“I do get on the road, and I get into a spirit of worship,” Fontaine said. “I see the miles roll by, so, yeah, I’ve missed a few turns. I call it a different kind of GPS: God’s Positioning System. I go wherever God wants me to go.”

The key is realizing that all Bikers for Christ members are changing, growing in the Lord, including, he said, Mauldin, who gladly wears the vest of his road warrior fellowship group.

“We are all changing, and that’s the point of the whole thing,” Mauldin said. “What the word of God says is we are being changed constantly, continually into the image of Christ.”

Local Bikers for Christ causes include teaching responsible, safe motorcycling, participating in parades, riding for fundraising efforts that include events in support of Relay for Life, and they plan to focus more of their attention on outreach to younger age groups.

Newton said the life-changing message he shares only starts with hope, and adds a solid grounding in the faith.

“I think it gives more than hope,” he said. “It’s knowledge. There is a true God, and God tells us in his word we are new creatures in Christ. It gives you a spirit that lives inside you. It’s like breathing. When you allow the Holy Spirit to have control of your life, you know it’s true.”

As Newton’s favorite song puts it, with everyone they meet, they take them the gospel and share it well. “Look around you as you hesitate. Another soul just fell. Let’s run to the battle . . .”

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.