A group of motorcycle riders across the U.S. are passionate about sharing the gospel. Though they don’t look like typical evangelists, they are intentional in sharing the message of Christ.
“Could a bunch of guys wearing jeans and leather really make an impact?” asked Mike Stewart, the national director of F.A.I.T.H. Riders, at a recent commissioning service at North Highlands Baptist Church in Hueytown.
The answer is a definitive “yes.” In the last 15 years, over 100,000 have heard the gospel one-on-one, and almost 13,000 have decided to follow Christ, all due to the riders.
‘It’s about reaching people’
However, as Buddy Newsome, the late founder and former F.A.I.T.H. Riders national director, said in a video about the ministry, “F.A.I.T.H. Riders motorcycle ministry really isn’t about motorcycles. It’s really about reaching people for Jesus Christ. F.A.I.T.H. Riders is really structured to help the local church fulfill the Great Commission. When we start a chapter in a church, it becomes a ministry of that church and it comes under the authority of that senior pastor.”
On July 18, North Highlands Baptist became the 39th Chapter of F.A.I.T.H. Riders of Alabama and the 379th chapter in the U.S.
Before the commissioning service, Michael Wallace, pastor of North Highlands, explained a few reasons why they wanted a chapter at their church.
“[F.A.I.T.H. Riders] meet together weekly for Bible study. They show up at community events to pray with people. They hosted a ride to raise money for one of our mission partners: Sav-a-Life. Once a month they’re having bike nights for the purpose of sharing the gospel with the people of our community. So, when the opportunity came up for us to become a chapter of F.A.I.T.H. Riders over the last few months, this was a no-brainer for us.”
Phillip Cook, F.A.I.T.H. Riders’ state coordinator for Alabama, is a firm believer in how powerful your testimony can be to someone else, even if it doesn’t feel that way to you. The riders are trained how to share the gospel and include their own stories.
Cook’s role is to encourage the chapters’ churches to stay involved and keep moving forward. One way is through events.
A few years ago, Cook felt the Lord lay on his heart, “Hey, I’ve got guys who like to ride. Why don’t we just ride and pray for these pastors and the communities and the churches as we’re riding — give our ride a purpose.”
On July 15, one of these “prayer rumbles” included 26 members from eight chapters who rode from their communities to a location near Montgomery. They stopped at 38 churches and prayed for the pastors, church members and communities.
Prayer rumbles often have powerful testimonies. Cook told of one where, after the riders had finished praying, they saw a man walking by the church’s cemetery. A member of F.A.I.T.H. Riders shared the gospel with him as he was mourning and crying over the loss of his brother and the decisions in his own life.
He was angry with God because his brother had just died, but after hearing the gospel, he immediately accepted Christ. The following Sunday he went to a local church and publicly professed his faith.
“Fast forward to today. I was at the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville (in June). We had a display set up with the F.A.I.T.H. Rider information. This guy came by and said he was a pastor of a Baptist church in Alabama. He [told] me the same story that our guys had told me two years ago,” said Cook, and confirmed it was the pastor of that church.
The pastor told Cook, “It was all because some motorcycle guys pulled up and decided to pray at a church.”
Cook gets a lot of feedback from people wondering why one would take time to pray for another’s community. After the last prayer rumble, Cook said, “I was overwhelmed at the phone calls, the emails, the thank yous, and the ‘Hey, how can I be a part of this?’”
After the commissioning, Stewart asked the congregation of North Highlands to imagine an event.
“You’re driving in your car and you come up to a red light. Then all of a sudden you hear this, ‘potato, potato, potato,’ this big rumbling noise, and you look to your left and you see this big burly biker all covered in tattoos, probably with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He might have loud rock music going on. And you’re reaching over, rolling up the window to your car and you’re locking the door. I know you are.
“Next week that same person is sitting right next to you in this church because one of these F.A.I.T.H. Riders was willing to step out and share the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ with that person and his life has been transformed. That’s what F.A.I.T.H. Riders can do,” Stewart continued.
“We are a motorcycle ministry — not a club, not a gang — passionate about sharing Christ with the world.”
All chapters play a supportive role in a Southern Baptist church. For more information about F.A.I.T.H. Riders or how to start a chapter, go to faithriders.com. In Alabama, contact Phillip Cook or F.A.I.T.H. Riders of Alabama through their Facebook pages.