Monday, December 9, 2013
What Are We Doing Here: The Story of our Mission - Part 2
I really had no idea what it meant to be a minister, much less a motorcycle minister, but here I was, riding my Yamaha 1600, and hanging out with a group of guys that I really had little in common with. I say little, because there were some things in common, we all loved to ride, and these guys were absolutely sold out to serving God no matter where that lead them. After only a few months, I was given the position of vice president and asked to help lead the ministry. I say given, but it was more like appointed, there was a nomination, and a vote, but I was never really asked, they just said, "you are the vice president now, here are your duties".
The Biker Church that we were trying to start had begun to grow, and then we heard that there was another group that had started a biker church at almost exactly the same time, so we decided to go visit them instead of having our own church service one Saturday. At the conclusion of the service it was announced that this was the last service as the church that was hosting the Biker Church was closing and they could not find another place to meet. I spoke with the leaders of this other group and offered that we would join their church and that they could use the building we had been using. We combined the two Biker's Churches into one and I was asked to join the leadership team to replace the outgoing Pastor of the closing host church.
We regularly attend poker and charity motorcycle runs, we go into biker bars, we go to local club events, visit hurting and sick bikers in the hospital, and attend biker funerals and memorial services. We live our lives alongside many who have been shunned by society and who in turn have often shunned polite society themselves. We answer their questions, we listen to their stories, and mostly, we just develop friendships with those in the motorcycle community God allows us to meet, whatever color patch they are wearing.
During this time, God began to open my eyes to some of the great needs that existed in my city, most of them I had driven by and either not noticed or wagged my head at before. Little Dawg, an old biker from California, and Six our Road Captain joined me on ventures into the homeless camps that dotted Fountain Creek at the time. At first, most of the people in the camps were reluctant to allow us in and some did not even want to talk to us. Slowly over time their suspicions waned and we were most often welcomed to come sit around their fires and talk sometimes we were even offered a cup of coffee from the communal pots.
As we developed relationships with the campers, we were able to meet needs that could not be met by the soup kitchens. We provided lamp oil and Coleman propane to help keep them warm in their tents on cold Colorado nights. We searched out boots and shoes in hard to find sizes. But mostly we got to know them, we learned about difficult lives, bad choices, wounds from abuse and war, and we learned to just listen and hear their stories without having to come up with a cure or fix for them.
We began to work with other groups already serving the poor and homeless in poor city, coming alongside to provide an extra hand serving, a listening ear and even sometimes a little security in tense situations. We discovered an underlying animosity toward the homeless from many in the city, particularly those in city government. Ordinances banning camping on public property in the city limits were passed, police officers and code enforcement began visiting places where homeless people were being fed and threatening to fine those doing the feeding. We spent time helping homeless people get to city council meetings so they could advocate for themselves as well as speaking and advocating for them. More and more anti-homeless laws have been passed, including an anti-panhandling ordinance and yet, we still continue to advocate where we can.
After a couple of years of praying for God to give us a place to send people struggling with addictions, we celebrated the opening of a Set Free church and recovery center here in Colorado Springs. The center was opened by a group from Phoenix who had come from various Set Free programs around the country. Biker church and Set free [partnered together to get a building and in only a few months, we had a number of residents living in the church, and going through the sober living program. It has been nearly two years since the doors opened, and we have been able to witness and be a part of God delivering many from various addictions.
Somewhere along the way, I received an ordination from Set Free as a Pastor and I preach there whenever I get the opportunity. The Colorado Springs Biker Church has since moved on to another building and I continue to lead and preach there once a month. Some of the homeless ministries have gone, some got tired of fighting the city government, some lost their funding, but some continue to serve, and we continue to help wherever we can. We still advocate for the homeless, although it seems that many in positions of power are not listening. We continue to build new relationships and find new needs every day and look for ways to help meet those needs either through community resources or from our own limited funds. And lastly, WE RIDE, we love to ride, we ride to church, we go on poker runs, we ride in toy runs, we ride year around whenever the roads are clear enough to keep the bikes upright and we serve Jesus Christ and our community wherever we go.
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES
"Charity" on Incarnating Love: The Story of our Mission - Part 4
What Have We Found Here: The Story of Our Mission - Part 3
What Are We Doing Here: the Story of Our Mission - Part 2
How We Got Here: The Story of our Mission - Part 1