Greetings to All Azusa StreetRiders and friends, in the Name of Jesus!
It’s no secret that Azusa StreetRiders has been under attack for a while. This article is to address that “elephant in our midst” and to assure everyone that we have now turned the corner and are moving forward with God’s help!
As most people know, Azusa StreetRiders was formed to be a “Oneness Apostolic” motorcycle ministry. Prior to its formation, Diane and I searched hard to find a such ministry to join and use for Apostolic outreach. We couldn’t find any semblance of a motorcycle ministry that embraced those two words, the cornerstone of our beliefs in Jesus—“Oneness” and “Apostolic.” Although many so-called motorcycle ministries professed to be Apostolic, all revealed themselves to be Trinitarian. And, as has been said time and again, of over 700 motorcycle ministries and Christian motorcycle clubs we identified, none were Oneness. Thus, the God-inspired passion to start Azusa StreetRiders consumed us and The Oneness Apostolic Motorcycle Ministry of Jesus Christ was born,
After much prayer and with encouragement from others, we started ASR in 1999. It was very difficult in the beginning because many pastors saw motorcycle riders through the lens of the ‘60s movie Easy Rider. But much had changed since that time and motorcycling was becoming more mainstream. In fact, many churches had members and even pastors who rode both regularly and recreationally. Over the years and through ASR, we’ve been blessed to visit hundreds of Apostolic churches and conferences simply trying to change pastors’ perceptions about motorcycles and about using them as simply another tool for Apostolic outreach. It’s been an uphill and often complicated battle, but through it all God has given us favor! With members now in over 30 US states and around the world, and with over 100 motorcycles we’ve provided to foreign Oneness Apostolic missionaries, ASR’s Oneness Apostolic presence is now known. But more importantly, our “mission” in now known.
Almost anyone can ride a motorcycle, put on a backpatch, and attend riding events, but what about outreach? Any ASR Member who wears his backpatch regularly when riding can tell you that it being emblazoned with “Acts 2:38” is a door opener. People actually stop and ask questions about our faith or our ministry. Opened doors lead to conversations, to friendships and relationships. It’s then that our lives are scrutinized and if they see Jesus in us, we might then win a soul. Remember, “he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).
ASR is somewhat like a church in that there will always be disgruntled individuals that want to run things their own way. As with churches, people will come and go in our ministry. It’s sad, but it happens and we must keep the faith and move in the direction that God leads us. In the past, there have been two efforts (of which I am aware) by former members of ASR to breakaway and start their own ministries. First, in Louisiana, there was a member who visited Myrtle Beach on two occasions with his wife during Bike Weeks when we were feeding literally thousands of bikers free lunches and dinners. They were a tremendous help but he didn’t like the fact that we taught against entering bars where the 1%ers were hanging out. There were other issues, but this was his main one. He formed another “Apostolic” motorcycle ministry but it fizzled. Likewise, a few years ago, in south Florida, another member didn’t like our “direction” and left us to start another “Apostolic” ministry. Despite his hard work to get it going, it, too, collapsed. In addition to these two, what I call, “serious efforts” to form motorcycle ministries, there have been a number of ASR members leave us for a variety of reasons—we were either too liberal or too conservative. Just as with churches, unfortunately you can’t please everyone! We must strive to please God!
Whatever we in ASR do, we must be humble and let Jesus be our example. We’ve lost people that we love dearly, and it hurts! We’ve been falsely accused of not wanting to do outreach to 1%ers, which is absurd, as this ministry is totally based on outreach to all. At no point has anyone been asked not to reach out to anyone, including 1%ers. Pray for all members, present or past, that God leads and that we/they follow that leading.
We must be Apostolic to gain Apostolic followers and to help others become truly Apostolic. To do so, we should use whatever tools are available and lawful (see 1 Corinthians 10:23) to reach new souls. This does not mean, as some would have you believe, that we have to “join them to win them.” Don’t get me wrong, we believe in getting involved with rides, toy runs, and charity events, etc. sponsored by Trinitarian motorcycle ministries, local churches, and even 1% clubs. Our presence at such events is essential in getting them to know us. But we still need to be “separate” (see 2 Corinthians 6:17). We do this by attending events, participating in rides, and witnessing to those present, but not by embracing the world. Don’t let anyone take Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some,” out of context. Paul did not become a drunkard or visit their bars to win a drunkard!
ASR members should be sanctified, set apart for a holy work (see 1 Corinthians 6:11). For example, charity rides often start at one bar and end at another. Yes, we should go on the ride! But stay outdoors and fellowship. This is easily done before the ride starts—mingle with the crowd outside where most gather to look at the bikes. Go on the ride and when it ends at another bar, simply make additional contacts outside and say your good-bys. This gains respect, as we’ve been told by 1%ers, as they don’t want to feel “condemned” by our presence while they drink and party. No need to criticize or condemn anyone or to even tell people why you’re not staying. One of the biggest turn-offs is to appear “holier than thou,” especially in a world where most everyone considers themselves to be “Christian.” Doing so destroys your witness! Use wisdom. Go to “see and be seen” while offering friendship. Don’t let your “good be evil spoken of.” You’ll have accomplished the intended “outreach” goal and if you exchanged names and numbers of those you had a connection with, it gives you a possibility to speak again; maybe an invitation to meet up a future ride, a meal, or a special event at your church. Build relationships. (see Proverbs 18:24)
If we continue in this Apostolic direction, God will continue to give us favor. Our successes have been recognized and championed by leaders of the world’s largest Oneness Apostolic organizations. Remember, we’ve had the General Superintendents of both the UPCI and ALJC preach our ASR National Rallies! Those and other Oneness Apostolic organizations have even allowed us to have display booths at their conferences to let their attendees know what Azusa StreetRiders is about. So, we must be doing something right. We know the conservative (by the world’s standards) beliefs of international leadership in Oneness Apostolic organizations and, by extension, of most churches under their guidance. If we expect to keep their favor, which translates into new members and support, we must present ourselves accordingly.
Diane and I would like to thank you for standing with us during these tumultuous times. The final nail in ASR’s coffin would be for us to be like the world. As true Apostolics, we must be Christlike. It’s not hard being Apostolic in a motorcycle world. It just takes determination. Azusa StreetRiders around the globe have proved this time and again. Let’s be Apostolic inside and out, from head to toe, and let’s do what Jesus commissioned us to do… Go, win souls, and baptize them in His Name!
Thank you for your support and love, God bless…
Myrtle Beach (SC) Chapter of ASR
Greetings to All Azusa StreetRiders and friends, in the Name of Jesus!