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Leather, Tattoos, and Jesus

by Janet Nesler

 

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They go where most Christian people won’t go, testifying and preaching to those who have never owned a bible.  They give thousands of dollars to different charities, their motto is: “Some wish to live within the sound of church and chapel bells, but we want to work at a rescue shop within a yard of Hell.”  They are called “Bikers for Christ”.

Roy Bennett, of Dogwood Ridge, is Elder of the Bikers for Christ Chapters in the whole State of Ohio.  Bennett had always wanted a black 1200 Harley Davison Sporster.  But he also was an ordained Christian Minister and he wanted God’s will in his life.  So he prayed a prayer telling God he would use the bike only for Him. 

“God laid on me and two other people a desire to start a biker ministry.” Bennett said proudly.  “So we did, and started trying to find a biker group to be involved in.  He led us to Bikers for Christ.  The Scioto County Chapter started out in March 2003 with 6 people and as of the last count now have 53 people riding for Christ.  Twelve different churches are associated with this chapter.  These include Church of Christ, Methodist, Church of God, Baptist, Christian Baptist, Pentecostal Church and Independent Churches.”

There are both men and women who ride.  Bennett’s wife, Ruth, rides with him most of the time and supports the ministry 100%.  There are other Bikers for Christ Chapters in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Zanesville, Springfield, West Virginia, West Union and trying to get a chapter started in Dayton, Ohio.  The Bikers are actually worldwide in 48 states and nine countries.  Pastor Fred Z of Ocean Side, California in August 1990, started the National Bikers Chapter.

The qualifications for the Bikers ministry are being a born again Christian, a love for the ministry, a love for riding the bike and a desire to see souls saved.  Another qualification is to be a member of a local church. 

“Once someone comes to know Christ we plant them in churches,” Bennett relates.  “We don’t just leave them out there.  It’s important since we are not a church.  We put them in bible believing and teaching churches and we take them and make sure the pastor knows who they are.  It has to be churches who are willing to accept a biker and will teach them.  We run into people who make the confession of faith and are baptized and they have no church background.  Some of them have never even read a bible.  They are like a brand new baby and as they are taught by the church they grow in Christ.  We are reaching people who aren’t being reached any other way.”
 
 “The biggest thing we do is to try and win people to Christ.  Of Course, we are not a church, we are a ministry.  We baptize after a person makes a confession of faith.  A lot of time the local church of their choice does that, but I am an ordained minister and have been for 18 years.  We have an organizational meeting every year in May and anyone who has not been baptized will be baptized there.”

The Bikers for Christ preach around the Tri-State Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.  Their group is booked every weekend until the middle of October.  They usually go as a group, but if there are two different events going on the same weekend they split up into two groups.

“We help charities too and right now we are raffling off a 2005 Harley Davison Road King.  We have never done this before, we are going to give it away September 17,” said Bennett.  “We are giving the money to the Pregnancy Crisis Center, which is a Christian organization in Scioto County and to the “Be 1 Outreach Center”.  The Outreach Center has no financial support except indudials.  They give out clothes and food and are located on Ohio River Road in Wheelersburg.  Mark Wyatt, one of the guys who rides with just had a burden on his heart to help them, so he came up with the idea.” 

“We are selling 2000 tickets for the giveaway.  The bike came from Bengie Harley Davison.  The first 960 tickets sold will go to pay for the bike and the rest will go to charity.  If we sell the whole 2000 tickets that will be $20,000.  We’ve had people from everywhere call for tickets, California, WVA, Mich, Oklahoma. A $20.00 donation will get you a ticket.  If the person is present when their ticket is drawn, Bengi Harley Davison will give them a $500 Gift Certificate to spend as they wish.”

The two main events that are fun times and still raise money for charity and save souls are the Charity Run also called a Poker Run, and the Bike Fests.  Tables are set up at most events to hand out Bibles and Tracts.  A prayer circle is formed before each ride and prayers are said for the biker’s safety and that God’s presence will help souls to be won.

“On a poker run or charity run they charge ten dollars a bike,” Bennett explains.  “They draw a card each stop and normally you make three stops.  You go to one destination and they mark your card and then you take a rest and go to another and they mark your card there too.  You make a third stop and they mark your card again.  When you come back they have a table set up where your name is written.  There you will draw 5 cards and whoever has the best hand receives a trophy.  They give a trophy to the youngest rider, the oldest rider and the largest group.  Our group has won trophies for the largest group.”

The money made on the run goes to the chosen charity.  If there 100 bikes, that means $1000 to charity.  If there are two people on a bike it’s 5.00 for each passenger.  On June 18 the Scioto County Group went on a run to Jackson, OH and all the money went to the cancer fund.  It’s usually an 80 to 100 mile real fun ride to raise money for a charity.

“Last month we rode on a charity run to a place called Jim Bo’s, which was a bar & hamburger place in the middle of nowhere and they allowed us set up our Bikers for Christ tables outside the door and we handed out bibles and tracts and sold tickets for the giveaway bike,” said Bennett.  “Recently part of us went down to the American Legion and we had a charity run, we had a prayer for the bikes that went on the run and then we were asked to pray for the veterans at the traveling wall,” Bennett continues. 

“It’s a fascinating ministry because God just keeps opening up doors.  Last year we were on a lot of different rides and met bikers that had never been to church or had been to church and gotten hurt and ones who had no interest in Christ.  Biker’s are good people.  They are good hearted, they are the first one’s who will stop along the road to help you and God open’s up the door for us to minister to these people.  Last year we did a worship service at the Laid Back Bar in Ironton, OH.  We sang and had a worship service during a rally on the river there.  The only facility available was the Laid Back Bar.  A lady came out of the campgrounds and made a confession of faith just by us being there.”

The Biker Fest is a fun thing, but it’s a ministry.  Most of the time Christian bands will come to play.  The bands take the old 70’s rock and put Christian words to them and the secular bikers come in and they really like that style and to listen to the music.  A couple of the songs are like “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Born to Be Wild” but they put Christian words with them. 

At a Biker Fest, bike games are played, like who can ride their bike the slowest, driving skills around barrels, pulling things with bikes, fellowship, cookouts.  On a Saturday night there will be a praise and worship service and a speaker will come in and will be preaching.  Then on Sunday morning the bikers go back to the church for another worship service.  After the service there will be a dinner and then there will be a big ride somewhere.  The Fest always involves a charity ride.

“It’s an awesome, awesome time,” smiles Bennett.  “We can have 500 people and sometimes plus.  Anywhere from 160 to 2000 bikers come and a variety of people who have no hair, long hair, pony tails, tattoos, all in leather and jeans.  But they come in with one mind. They come to worship the Lord, and be fed the word of God.  Hopefully and prayerfully to see souls saved.  It’s amazing cause they don’t worry what they look like, they come decent.  So that’s what biker fests are about.  It doesn’t get much better than that.”

This past year the Group has been to the Easy Rider Bike Show in Coumbus, Ohio and set up a booth to hand out tracks and Bibles.  They passed out 1,400 bibles to bikers over that weekend.  This year they will have passed out close to 3,000 Bibles.  One of the tracks is a Jesus Wanted track about how Jesus wants to be in their life.  They also pass out a Gospel of John Pamphlet.  They minister to the people about Christ have been privigled to be asked to have special prayer at the bike rallies and poker runs.  They have done biker funerals and weddings, as well.
They also get calls for prayer chain prayers and visits to hospitals.  A prayer on the prayer chain will go out in a matter of minutes to 48 states and nine countries.  

“Every time you get on your bike and go out, there is somebody you are going to run into, Bennett said humbly.  “Every time we go into a restaurant to eat, people try and shun us until they see our patch that says Bikers for Christ and then they come up and talk to us.  They have that mindset that bikers are bad.  We were up to Piketon not long ago in a gas station and a guy came out and his grandbaby was real sick and he asked us if we would have prayer for the child.  So we sat there in the middle of that parking lot and prayed over that child that it would be healed, and it was.”

In July the group will be helping Fellow Biker, Jerry Horton, Youth Minister at the Church of God.  They are trying to reach the Inner City Kids in Portsmouth with what is called an Out Loud Fest on July 30 at the Portsmouth Municipal Stadium.  The bikers are going down to help them minister to the kids.  It is a free event that is going to run from noon to 10 at night.  Music groups will be coming in from out of town and they will have a special youth minister to come in to talk to the kids.  There will be free rides and free food.  For more information on the Out Loud Fest call Jerry Horton at 259-5586.

The bikers are available to preach or speak at various churches and events.  There is no charge at any event or church.  If a love offering is taken, it either goes to buy bibles or to a charity.  They all have day jobs. 

Roy Bennett is Evening Coordinator for the Adult Education at Scioto County Joint Vocational School.  He is over the Industrial Maintance and Industrial Electricity.  Bennett’s wife, Ruth, works at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Medical Records.

If interested in having a biker speak at your organization or church or you have a prayer chain need call Roy Bennett at 740-574-6364.

 

 

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