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Taking Christ to the open road

Strapping on a pair of boots, putting on a leather jacket and taking to the road on a motorcycle can be a spiritual experience.
“To me, I see the beauty of what God has created everywhere, from the wind to the smell of the flowers,” said Shirley Morris, a Christian biker.
Looking at Morris, one wouldn’t immediately think she was heavily involved in church. Like her biker friends, she enjoys black leather and walks around with a helmet tucked under her arm.
Morris and other bikers like her, however, believe their rebelliousness is in the spirit of Christ.
“I think if Jesus was alive today he would be a biker,” said Eddie “Dunior” Dean, who founded the Lincolnton chapter of the Uncaged Biker Ministries at Christian Life Church of the Nazarene.
“The government didn’t like Jesus. The church didn’t like Jesus. He rebelled against everything.”
This past week, Dean’s church held a special “Biker Sunday,” and bikers from surrounding counties came for fellowship, food and the blessing of bikes.
“It’s a way to reach people for Jesus Christ, and it’s a way to open the door of the church for people who normally wouldn’t be accepted in a church,” said the Rev. Mark Wotjal of the Christian Life Church of Nazarene.
Bikers wore jeans, leather pants and vests with patches stating “These are my church clothes” to the service.
Dale Brooks, a former hard living biker, was a special speaker. He originally fell into the lifestyle because it was a place he felt accepted. Eventually, however, he knew things had to change.
“After a long time of drugs and alcohol, I knew I needed to get away from it because it was really killing me,” he said.
One night he saw an advertisement for a Billy Graham book, and he picked up the phone to order one. He ended up telling the operator his life story, and she told him he was a sinner.
“Right there on my living room floor on the telephone, I gave my life to the Lord,” he said.
Not every Christian biker went through such an extreme experience. Dean grew up in the church and has always identified as religious.
That said, he enjoys the biker lifestyle, including the risk he takes when riding.
“That’s part of it,” he said. “Danger’s everywhere.”
When he learned about biker ministries at Hog Happening in downtown Lincolnton, the idea immediately appealed to him.
He eventually found his place in “Uncaged Biker Ministries.” The organization’s name comes in part from the feeling of independence people have when riding motorcycles.
It also has to do with the freedom that people have found in Christ.
“You’re not hemmed in by sin, you’re not hemmed in by what people think about you,” said David Middendorf, a biker pastor with Uncaged Ministries.
Middendorf believes that religion should be taken to the streets, which is what Jesus did.
“Jesus hung around with the common people,” he said.
Uncaged Ministries also gives bikers a place to feel comfortable as they are.
“The average person that rides a motorcycle down the road, it’s hard for them to just walking into a church,” said Brooks.
For more information on the Lincolnton chapter of Uncaged Biker Ministries call Eddie Dean, Jr. at (980) 241-9598 or Pastor Mark Wojtal at (704) 241-2699.
by Sarah Grano

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