In ‘hog’ heaven: Christian motorcyclists rev up for riding ministry season

Dennis Martin hardly needs to be an extrovert when he’s looking to simply share God’s love along the area highways and byways. He worries little about being a smooth talker or straining to get others’ attention when he stops for gas on his Harley Davidson 2001 Ultra Classic, for example.

“The bike really does it for you,” Martin said. “People just love to see the shiny bikes.”

Guys will automatically approach and regale Martin with memories of their first bike. Older women approach and grow teary-eyed remembering a late husband who regularly rode.

“I always say that God uses those two wheels as quite a tool,” Martin said.

With the Columbus-based interdenominational Wheels of Faith No. 155 Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, where there are wheels, there’s a way — a way to share the gospel. The chapter, launched in 1997, includes about 35 members and is just beginning its riding ministry season this month. The 66-year-old Martin is in his fifth year as chapter president.

“I never get tired of this,” he said.

Motorcycle ministry at rallies, rides and elsewhere unfolds a bit differently, members will say. Listen to a comment from a few years ago from Westport resident Richard Nugent, a Wheels of Faith past president and 14-year officer now serving as president of Cornerstone Riders No. 175 Indianapolis chapter.

“With bikers,” Nugent said, “you can’t just crack open a Bible and start reading Scripture.”

That’s why the chapter’s “rag tracks” emblazoned with Scripture are nearly more popular than the Bibles they give away. The local chapter’s biggest event, a 100-mile ride known as Run for the Son each May, raises nearly $30,000 for ministry outreach. That total covers resources ranging from dirt bikes for Third World pastors’ transportation to ministry equipment for rallies.

It also supports showings of “The Jesus Project” film that has been a world evangelism tool for years.

Nugent, 55, like Martin, wants to see younger members in all the chapters. In the Indianapolis chapter that dwindled to just three members last year, he and wife Loretta are the youngest by far.

“Indianapolis is the largest city in this state,” Nugent said. “You can’t tell me that there’s only three Christian people statewide who are riding motorcycles.”

A few inquisitive people showed up at the January chapter meeting, which gave him hope. In fact, the entire Christian Motorcyclists Association network gave him and Loretta hope when they lost their two sons, ages 21 and 25, in an auto accident eight years ago.

“So many people from CMA held us together during that time,” Nugent said.

In fact, representatives from 23 chapters, including from as far away as California and Canada, attended the boys’ funeral.

“So, I’ll be involved in this either until they put me in the ground,” he said, “or until the rapture.”