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Motorcycle rally offers camaraderie & scenic roads

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–The hills were alive with the sound of throaty engines as approximately 200 motorcycle enthusiasts converged on LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains for the inaugural “Ride to Ridgecrest” motorcycle rally.

Bikers from as far away as Beaumont, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio, traveled to North Carolina for a weekend of seminars, worship and biking on some of the most scenic roads in the Southeast.

“Our mission for this gathering is to ultimately help build community among Christian bikers and present a place where unbelievers will hear the Gospel and find a place of belonging,” said Ron Pratt, national event planner for LifeWay Conference Centers. “We also want to help existing motorcycle ministries develop outreach opportunities through frequent, safe and well-organized motorcycle events.”

Evening worship sessions were led by evangelist and Christian counselor Dale Brooks from Charlotte, N.C., and international speaker and author Richard Headrick, president and CEO of The Headrick Companies, Inc., based in Laurel, Miss.

Evening worship at Ridgecrest’s newly opened ARC (Auditorium and Recreation Center) was led by Direct Message, a Southern gospel rock and praise band, and Second Chance, a Christian band often featured at motorcycle rallies across the nation.

Brooks, who rides with the Carolina chapter of the F.A.I.T.H. Riders Christian motorcycle group, gave testimony to how God saved him from a life of drugs and crime.

“Satan speaks lies to us to keep us from Christ,” Brooks said. “I lived the lies that God isn’t fair, that I would have to make it through life on my own, and that I couldn’t trust anyone.

“Little did I know that the sovereign God of the universe was with me all the time. I was just a mean person. And people [without God] like to be with the tough kid. I went from alcohol to drugs, and got worse and worse,” he said, recounting how he got involved with a motorcycle gang.

“I’m not talking about guys that drive down to the Dairy Queen and get ice cream,” he quipped. “These were bad men.” After years of trying to remove himself from that lifestyle, “I found out that people can’t straighten up without the sovereign Son of God changing us.”

Acceptance is why motorcycle riders mired in negative lifestyles have trouble finding freedom, Brooks said. “The gangs accept them, and churches say, ‘We don’t want people like you.’”

Brooks said everyone has four basic needs: to be loved, accepted, secure, and to have significance. It is only when “we understand that we are loved by God and it doesn’t matter what the world thinks” that a person can find freedom, he said.

After enjoying the mountain roads of North Carolina with organized rides to scenic locations such as Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and the winding Blue Ridge Parkway, participants attended various workshops to reinforce their camaraderie.

Danny Moats, a Verizon employee and chaplain of the Florida F.A.I.T.H. Riders based at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., led a seminar on effective ways to share the Gospel with bikers.

“Don’t get caught in a trap of thinking what you do is important,” he said. “It’s because of Whose you are and that you’ve asked Jesus Christ [to be] your Savior that matters. The most powerful witnessing tool is your own testimony. We’re all different; He’s allowed us to walk the walks because He’s going to bring someone to us that connects with our story.”

Buddy Newsome, a former motorcycle police officer who started the first F.A.I.T.H. Riders chapter at First Baptist Church in Lakeland, led a workshop on how to begin a church motorcycle ministry. “It must be a motorcycle ministry about Jesus Christ, not a motorcycle ministry about motorcycles,” he said.

Other workshops were led by employees of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., who rode together as a group to the Sept. 22-24 gathering. Topics included how to plan a motorcycle trip and tips on motorcycle maintenance.

Overlooking a parking lot full of Harley Davidson, Honda Gold Wing cruisers and a range of colorful chrome cycles, Brooks observed from the porch of Ridgecest’s Pritchell Hall, “Motorcycling is at a peak right now. The Lord has literally blown the doors open on ministry to this segment of the population. This is a perfect event for the body of Christ to be involved in.”
The next Ride to Ridgecrest motorcycle rally is scheduled for the 2007 Memorial Day weekend. The Florida F.A.I.T.H. Riders will serve as hosts for the event. For more information, contact Ron Pratt at [email protected].

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  • Russ Rankin