Riding the open road with love and mission
by Agnes Chung
Fall is the perfect time to ride. The cooler weather and changing foliage colours fuels the romance, liberty and adventure of the open road.
Strapped with a helmet, clad in a biker jacket, Barbara K says, it’s the freedom, the rush, speed and “wind in the hair feeling” that drives her leisure pursuit. She is no outlaw motorcycle gang member, but a loving mother of two adult kids, who simply enjoys motorcycling.
“Riding is a lot of fun and refreshing. I’ve always liked motorcycles as a kid,” says Richard Fulljames. He uses his motorcycle as a tool to share the love of Jesus and message of hope with the motorcycle community. Fulljames, the B.C. regional coordinator for the Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA) – Canada Chapter joined the ministry in 1979.
Christian Motorcyclists Association
CMA was born by a Southern Baptist preacher, Herb Shreve’s desire to share the gospel with the secular biking community in Arkansas in 1975. It has since grown into an international non-denominational ministry with over 136,000 members according to charitynavigator.org. It’s not a club. There is no membership fee. Members are men, women and families from all walks of life.
To qualify as a CMA member, the applicant must be a regular church attendee. “We are not a church, neither a replacement for the church, says Fulljames. Accepted applicants undergo an introductory program so they understand the ministry. There’s also training and support to use the motorcycle as a tool to reach out to others. The CMA New Testament bible features some motorcyclist testimonies, says Fulljames.
Earning the right to speak
He explains CMA’s main objective is to reach people for Christ through their service. They currently have chapters in 40 countries worldwide. “We don’t preach at people…”we earn the right to speak”. We go to motorcycle rallies and volunteer our services.” “At an annual swap meet, a secular event held every April, we look after the gate, help with registration. CMA members were invited to pray for the safety of bike riders at the Ride to Live fundraising event for prostate cancer earlier this year.”
“Wherever there is a need, we’ll help. Through our services, we gain people’s respect, and get a chance to speak with them, and pray for an opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with them.”
Improving the public perception of motorcyclists
Motorcycle riders in general are perceived as outlaws and irrational risk takers on the road. Improving the image of persons engaged in motorcycling is one of CMA’s missions.
Says Fulljames, “The biggest thing is the way you ride: staying within speed limit, flowing with the traffic. How you treat people, on or off the motorcycle. Do you respect, help or care for people?”
He shares a story about a man who had a flat tire on the highway and how a group of CMA members assisted him.
Riders can look intimidating with all their leather gear. “It’s not our intention to intimidate. People wear leather and also boots for protection from injuries, especially riding on highways”, says Fulljames.
Frank Amantea, Alberta CMA member and pastor of Lighthouse Church in Calgary writes, “Although we don’t have tattoos, we wear leather and ride motorcycles with loud pipes. The only thing that distinguishes us from secular bikers is the patch we wear on our backs.
“The patch includes a Bible and Praying Hands with the words: Christian Motorcyclists Association, Riding for the Son. Our patch opens up many conversations with bikers and non-bikers alike. It helps us to be a light shining in the darkness.”
Amantea joined CMA in 1999 after returning from the Philippines where he and his wife (Liz) served as missionaries. He gave an example of how one young man saw the CMA patch on the back of his t-shirt and struck up a conversation.
The young man told Amantea there was “no hope for him” as he had turned his back on God. He used to attend a youth group, but now does drugs and sleeps around. “God will never forgive me,” he told Amantea. “There is hope. God still loves you,” shares Amantea who prayed for him.
Best rides in Alberta and B.C.
Amantea’s favourite Alberta roads: Highway 40 through the mountains over the Highwood Pass (the highest drivable pass in Canada), the backroads from Calgary to Bragg Creek and the 1A to Canmore.
In B.C., Fulljames says he enjoys riding the Duffey Lake Road, Vancouver through Nanaimo to Port Hardy, the Derby Reach to Fort Langley and many beautiful roads in the Fraser Valley. There are seven CMA B.C. chapters.
“We have lady motorcyclists in the group. God is inclusive and not exclusive. Anybody is welcome to ride with us. We provide good safe rides. We want to provide safe fellowship amongst Christians and non-Christians,” shares Fulljames.