Rally to Ridgecrest challenges bikers to share their faith in Christ
About 7:30 a.m. on May 21 Ed Carter and I left Summerville to follow Highway 176 into western North Carolina and connect with routes108 and 9, taking us to Tryon, Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Black Mountain and our destination, the Lifeway Conference Center at Ridgecrest. We were there for the annual Rally To Ridgecrest Memorial Day weekend motorcycle rally, and were joined by more than 600 bikers who rode in from states as far away as Texas, Maine and Florida.
Here’s a short summary of what Rally To Ridgecrest was about and some photos Ed shot. It’s not like being there, but it’s the best we can do. – Dick Peterson
For Lt. Col. Oliver North, speaking to a “motorcycle gang” was a first, but judging from the welcome he received, it probably won’t be his last.
North spoke during the Sunday morning worship service at Rally To Ridgecrest, Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center’s annual Memorial Day weekend invitation to bikers from around the country to gather in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. North talked about his faith in Jesus Christ, the senior officer God used to introduce him to Jesus, and how important it is to “know where you’re going and why you’re going there.”
The theme of commitment to purpose as followers of Jesus Christ permeated the talk, which resonated with the more than 600 motorcyclists who at times interrupted the speaker with applause, cheers and a scattering of “hoo-rah” for the retired Marine officer.
The bikers were there to encourage each other as they use their passion for motorcycles to tell other bikers about Jesus. North called them an “affinity group” that God could use to build relationships and ultimately win souls to Christ. North’s keynote speech followed an early morning parade of motorcycles to the veterans’ cemetery in Black Mountain where he recognized the supreme sacrifice of men and women in service to their country. But North’s speech was hardly the only highlight of the four-day weekend, which began with a Friday night performance by comedian Jeff Allen. As a member of the touring Apostles of Comedy team, Allen said he was happy finally to be off tour – “Seven men in a bus for six weeks. There was enough methane in that thing to blow up a third world country.” While his stand-up had his audience doubled over from laughter, his personal testimony of how Christ changed a man who couldn’t live with himself to one who could live for Jesus had them in tears. He described the depths of despair it took to get him to look up at the Savior.
Florida Baptist Convention Director of Evangelism Dave Burton, himself an avid biker, spoke Saturday night about the desire Christ has put in every Christian to tell other people about Christ. “We may not be doing it as faithfully and dramatically and as boldly as we’d like, but down deep in the heart where we meet Jesus, we want others to know Him.” He said that as different as we are, with different gifts and abilities, as believers, we need to be all we can be for Jesus Christ at any given moment.
“Christians can talk the talk, but until they back it up with action, people cannot see the Jesus in them. They’re looking for something in our lives. They want to see if there is a consistency there, because they have models of inconsistency all around them.”
On Sunday night, Lifeway’s national event planner, Ron Pratt, talked about motivation and the real motivation that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “We do what we do because we love Him. It’s that simple.” But the bottom line is action, he said. “Christians can talk the talk, but until they back it up with action, people cannot see the Jesus in them. They’re looking for something in our lives. They want to see if there is a consistency there, because they have models of inconsistency all around them.”
Saturday and Sunday afternoons offered self-guided rides along mapped-out routes of beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain scenery. Also scheduled were seminars that included Motorcycle Ministry in Your Church, Connecting as You Go, Living and Leaving a Godly Legacy, Intentional Evangelism, Accident Scene Management, Ride to Protect your Hide, Road Photography and The Care and Feeding of Your Motorcycle, to name a few.
Perhaps the most rewarding opportunity of the rally was meeting bikers from as far away as Texas, Maine and Florida, who love to ride and love the Lord. They rode on virtually every kind of bike and shared the joys and heartaches of ministry on the road with other believers.
By the way, here’s a short-term mission trip for anyone with a passion for motorcycles and evangelism: Sturgis 2009. Marc Merritt, an associate in the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and lifelong biker, is leading a mission of F.A.I.T.H. Riders from his state to the Sturgis Bike Rally, August 1-9. Visit sturgisbikegiveaway.com for details about this Dakota Baptist Convention outreach to bikers at what is probably the biggest motorcycle rally in the country.