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Biker church is where Jesus can ‘clean you up on the inside’

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–As the general manager of a supply house, much of Gary Davis’ job was delivering equipment. On his route he routinely delivered to three different shops — each owned by one of three brothers.

“One brother drank from lunch on, the second brother was rough and the third brother was a total mess,” Davis remembers.

One day Davis delivered equipment to the youngest brother and was surprised to see that he was clean and alert. A few weeks later when the man was still “clean and shiny and bright,” Davis asked, “What happened to you?”

He told Davis he was getting to know who Jesus Christ was and had accepted Jesus as his Savior.

The answer didn’t mean much to Davis, since as the child of a California real estate developer, he grew up “doing anything but going to church on Sunday, although,” he adds, “I did do Sunday school one summer when I was 5.”

The two began to talk and when this younger brother began telling Davis about guys named Isaiah and Paul, Davis rearranged his schedule so he could take his break with the man and hear more stories about people in the Bible.

Davis was heavy into biking — he got his first Harley-Davidson right after high school — and was participating in mandatory runs for his biker club. “They had some evangelist there,” he remembers.

When the evangelist said, “Someone here needs to know the Lord,” Davis was among about 25 bikers who made professions of faith in Christ.

“My whole life changed,” Davis says. He left the woman he was living with — “The Lord opened my eyes” — and not long after that he “literally walked out of that life.”

The only thing he didn’t leave behind was his love for motorcycles. He found a church that welcomed him, but wanted him to change. “You know, cut the hair, get rid of the bikes.”

Davis questioned that. Why does it make a difference? When one church member told him he wasn’t putting forth the proper image for the church, Davis left.

“I didn’t leave the Lord, but I was sure upset with his people,” he says.

He tried other churches, but felt that his bike was a detriment to the way people saw him. Eventually, he found a Bible-teaching church where he was generally well accepted.

“I know I looked kind of tough riding the bike, but the Lord just didn’t take it away,” he says.

Then in 1994 Davis met with Rick Ferguson, pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Denver. “We needed to find someone who understands bikers,” Ferguson shared with Davis, to start an outreach to them. “That was me,” Davis discovered.

He started a weekly Saturday night Bible study in his home that grew to about 25-30 bikers. He also began attending biker shows and rallies with his wife, Diana.

At the first biker show they attended, a girl stripped her clothes off right in front of them. “Diana wasn’t convinced this is where we were supposed to be,” Davis recalls. “She was a yuppie when I met her,” he quips.

But the couple persevered until Davis’ life took an abrupt change. In 1996, he lost his job as an insurance adjuster. In the midst of that change, Davis set up a Riverside church-sponsored biker rally.

Two weeks later he used that event — about 100 bikers participated — to start Church in the Wind.

It was a place where “people know that they don’t have to cut the hair, cover the tattoos, but can come to Jesus as they are,” Davis says. “Jesus will help clean up the rough parts, clean you up on the inside.”

Today Church in the Wind, with Davis as pastor, has an average attendance of about 100 bikers every Friday night. (And Diana has her own motorcycle.)

“We meet on Friday since most biker events are on Saturdays and Sundays. That means we’re available to be at the major events and share the Lord with people,” Davis explains.

The church also sponsors an annual Riverside Biker’s Rally on the fourth Sunday in July. They play biker games in the church parking lot — like “Road Kill Toss” in which the driver rides as slowly as he can so the passenger can heave a stuffed animal in a garbage can as they pass by. Then the church feeds everyone a free steak lunch.

At Church in the Wind, Davis hopes to give the biker community what he found at Riverside: a place that understands grace, accepting people as they are.

“You know, we’re all saved by grace,” he says.

Reprinted from the Winter 2000 issue of Church Planting & Evangelism Today, published by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

Additional photo posted in the BP Photo Library. Photo title: HEAVEN’S ANGELS.

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  • Sherri Brown