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Christian Motorcyclists association aim to help bikers get Jesus in hearts
OREM The sun shone brilliantly on the chromeplated Harley, as seven leatheranddenim clad men and women stood in a circle around it in the SCERA Park parking lot, holding hands in a spirit of loving unity as they collectively invoked a blessing of safety and security on a biker and his bike.
We ask you to bless Randys tires, Lord, said Bob Stringham, his arm lovingly draped around Randy Conklins shoulders as Randy stood near his motorcycle. Bless them that they may be sturdy and strong. Bless them that they may grip the road and keep Randy safe. Whisper in Randys ear if he forgets to check the tire pressure as often as he should.
Surround Randy with a bubble of protection, Lord, Stringham continued, as others in the circle nodded their approval of the blessing. Extend that bubble around his motorcycle, and around his home when he goes home. Randy is retired, Lord, so bless his finances and his health.
Conklin was clearly moved as the blessing ended and the men and women in the circle took turns hugging him and patting his bike. A decal was placed on his taillight that says I was blessed in 11 and Jesus Loves You. After a moment of shared affection and appreciation, he started up his Harley and headed for home, as Stringham and the others in the circle moved toward the next biker who wanted a blessing.
Thats sort of the way it is on Biker Sunday, said Stringham, who, along with his wife, Gale, are Utah State Coordinators for the Christian Motorcyclists Association CMA. We meet people on their bikes everywhere we go, and we invite them to come. We have a nice ride and a nice lunch, we have a few moments of worship and then hopefully theyll let us bless their bikes. I always ask them at the start of the blessing, What would you like Jesus to do for you today?
For me, he said, thats what this is all about: helping bikers get Jesus in their hearts and in their lives.
Stringham is not a minister or a pastor, although there are at least two pastors who ride with the Kings Crusaders, the Utah County CMA chapter. One of them is Tom Ramsey, who was recently injured while moving some machinery and wont be able to ride his motorcycle this day, so he will be following the group in his truck. Ramsey is president of the Kings Crusaders and is actually retired as a pastor, but today he will be filling in for the groups regular chaplain, who has another flock he needs to tend today, Ramsey says.
Well gather here for a while, he said. Then well have a prayer and head out.
The group plans to ride from Orem to Fairview and up around Scoffield Reservoir, then back to Orem, where a lunch of barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs awaits them. After lunch well have a little worship service 10 minutes or so, I promise Ramsey said. I just want to be encouraging, and to open their hearts to the Lord.
One biker who has already opened his heart to the Lord is Tom Walsh. Tom is going to be the road captain for this days ride he and his wife, Linda, drove the route the previous day, just to make sure it would be safe for the group but it wasnt too long ago that he was riding with a completely different kind of motorcycle club.
They werent clubs they were gangs, he said, simply, directly. Ive been riding since I was 15, and I experienced a whole lot of He paused, searching for the right word, then continued: I was looking at prison time when I met her. He gestured toward Linda. She was always talking about Jesus. She was different than the other people I knew. There was something special about her, and I wanted to have what she had. Shes the one who led me to the Lord.
That was back in 1993. Tom said hes been clean, sober and out of trouble ever since. In his 50s now, he still has the same long hair and beard of his biking past, but his voice and manner are quiet and gentle. Im just glad I woke up and smelled the coffee, he said. Everything is different for me since I turned my life over to Him.
As the appointed hour for the motorcycle ride approaches, other bikers begin arriving at the park, including four members of the Templar Knights, a serviceoriented motorcycle club headquartered in Pleasant Grove. Although not specifically faithbased, the Knights are comfortable riding with the Kings Crusaders. In fact, Awwen Tysson, who goes by the nickname Viking, sees an interesting connection between todays Crusaders and Templar Knights and their historical forebears.
Back then, the Templar Knights protected religious pilgrims, he said. And were here today to support the Crusaders in what they are trying to do.
Plus, Scott Munson Tank added, were able to do something we love to do: ride our bikes.
Robin Stintsman isnt specifically affiliated with either the Crusaders or the Knights and she likes it that way. She has recently moved to Utah from New Jersey she goes by the name Jersey Girl, and she finds that driving with various different motorcycle clubs is a great way to meet people. Still, she feels a spiritual calling to all of the clubs.
Even in the clubs that are you know less desirable, they know me as a Christian, she said. I dont preach, but I live a good Christian life. Youd be surprised how many people come up to me and ask me about my beliefs. I always have a chance to minister.
Eventually Tom calls the group together and gives instructions for the days ride. Then Clancy takes over to offer a brief prayer for the trip. He prays for the safety and wellbeing of the bikers, and then intones: Lord God, we turn this ride over to you. We pray that people will see your glory in us as we ride. May you be glorified in us today.
Within minutes the group of about 20 bikers are lined up behind Tom and Linda, and ready to roar onto Orems State Street. Someone mentions to Tom that they have a beautiful, balmy day for a ride. Tom winks and smiles.