From Day One, Azusa StreetRiders’ main goal, its objective, its focus has been to reach the lost. Twenty years ago this month (October 1999), we held our first event—a Revival during Fall Bike Week in Myrtle Beach, SC (USA). With food as the attraction (our famous “Bike Week Bar-B-Que”), we set up a tent to allow our Pastor (Rev. Ben Cooke, First UPC Conway, SC) to preach to bikers who—for whatever reasons—did not attend churches (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Growth during the ensuing years has brought about many challenges, foremost of which has been to keep the focus. Nearly every opportunity Diane and I have had to address a group about ASR, we’ve made the statement, “We’re not a motorcycle club, we’re a ministry!”
During our formative years, we had to pound this thought into countless hearts, many of whom were pastors. Bikers were generally viewed as “rebellious” and we were not different in their eyes. A well-known organizational leader in one state publicly stated that we were nothing more than “Thugs for Jesus” and advised pastors in his district to not allow their church members to join ASR. The “Easy Rider” image of bikers was a strong barrier to overcome in Oneness Apostolic circles. Despite the fact that nearly 700 Trinitarian motorcycle ministries and clubs had been identified, we struggled to gain “acceptance” among those we looked to for spiritual and biblical guidance.
With God’s help, we’ve come a long way! After heading up ASR for its first 16 years, Diane and I stepped down in 2015 with our Azusa StreetRiders National Rally services being held in the church pastored by the ALJC General Superintendent (Rev. Kenneth Carpenter) featuring the ASR guest speaker, Dr. David Bernard (UPCI General Superintendent). Although not formally “endorsed” by either of these organizations, worldwide leaders from these and other Oneness Apostolic organizations have blessed us with messages at our Azusa StreetRiders’ National Rallies and our biker-ministry efforts have become well known. And this “unofficial” support is still evident today as alluded to in last month’s RUMBLINGS Newsletter where Bro. Michael Theodore (ASR National Road Captain) reported that Rev. Bruce Howell (UPCI’s Director of Global Missions) brought several missionaries to the ASR booth at UPCI General Conference just to say, “Thank you for what you do.” To date, we’ve provided funding for about 65 motorcycles to missionaries on foreign fields (anywhere other than the US or Canada) who preach the Oneness Gospel Message.
As with organizations of any size, we’ve had individuals who’ve let their personal agendas try to overtake our original organizational focus, but God has protected us! Sure, we’ve had our ups-and-downs, but what ministry hasn’t? And we’ve certainly made mistakes that we wish we could undo! We’re a collection of imperfect servants who ultimately want the best for the Kingdom! Our tools are simple — bikes, backpatches and tracks — but our testimonies are powerful! (Revelation 12:11)
Looking back over the past five years without our full-time input into Azusa StreetRiders’ organizational and ministry efforts, Diane and I have watched in awe of God’s leading hand at work. Combining this with prayer from the ASR leadership for His input and direction, we are greatly encouraged — all is well! We believe ASR as an organization has turned the corner and has a renewed and stronger-than-ever focus on ministry and outreach with a desire to let God lead us where He may!
We encourage every member of Azusa StreetRiders, whether you are part of a chapter or are a lone voice in the motorcycle-world-wilderness, to be humble and witness. Help your pastor build a bigger, stronger and community-influential church based on Truth where souls can be saved and nurtured. Witness to all that will listen. Use your personal influence wherever possible and most of all be bold for Christ remembering His words to the Disciples in Mark 16:15-18.
With all of this being said, Pastor Doug Joseph (ASR Clarksburg, WV) and I have agreed to revise “The Book of Salvation” to hopefully make it more impactful and helpful in our outreach efforts. In doing so, we plan to include personal testimonies of ASR members and how they came to the Lord. Each testimony will be limited to about 500 words and would include a photograph (preferably on a bike and “before” and “after” photos would be considered for publication). Anyone who is interested — and we encourage all to participate — please send your testimony to me at Fred.Beall@AzusaStreetRiders.com with the subject title “Testimony of ___________” (your name in the blank). We may take some literary license to help convey the testimony’s impact, but we’ll be careful not to discount or modify the power of your words. So, even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer,” please put your testimony on paper and we’ll go to work to help make the “Revised Book of Salvation” more helpful in your outreach, soul-winning efforts.
In His Service,
Fred Beall, Azusa StreetRiders