Hobbies and mission
God is interested in all aspects of our life, including our hobbies. Emma and Fez Walsh share their involvement with a motorcycle club
On warm summer evenings across the English countryside you can see fields with marquees, motorbikes, bands and tents. You can hear the sounds of laughter, revving engines and rock music. Inside the marquees are leather-clad men and women … bikers, talking, laughing and drinking.
There’s one in the middle with a cross on his back. Another biker walks up and pulls him into a hug saying “Hey mate! Haven’t seen ya in ages! Let me by ya a drink. I got something to ask ya.”
As they head to the bar, he starts to talk about what’s going on. While he’s listening, others nod or smile at him, some come and ask if they can have a chat later. After a while you hear the biker with the cross on his back offer to pray for him. He looks up and says, “That would be great. Thanks.”
The biker with the cross on his back is a member of God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club, a non-denominational ministry that was originally set up in Australia to spread the Gospel to bikers and people on the fringes of society. Over the last 40+ years the club has grown to well over 300 members with Chapters (groups) around the world.
We are a legitimate biker club with a patch on our backs; all of us ride motorcycles and enjoy the biker lifestyle. The only difference is that we are Christians. Many of us are bikers who have come to accept God.
The ministry of God’s Squad has been called incarnational, cross-cultural and radical, but is essentially relational. We don’t go preaching the gospel as most bikers see this as offensive Bible bashing.
Instead, we are part of the culture meeting them on their turf. We build friendships by spending time with them on the road and at parties. It’s about sharing a common experience and when they are ready and curious, they ask about our faith which often leads to them discussing their faith.
The ministry of God’s Squad has been called incarnational, cross-cultural and radical, but is essentially relational.
We take on a chaplaincy role for the biker scene. We conduct services for weddings, blessings, funerals and baptisms. We spend time with them when they grieve and when they celebrate. We help when they are struggling with a moral decision or a family crisis and visit them in hospital or prison.
When we moved to Oxford seven years ago Fez was already a member of God’s Squad. At the time there was only one Chapter in the UK with most of the members in the north.
As God’s Squad became more visible in the south the numbers grew and in 2010 there were enough people to start a Chapter in the south, with Fez as President. With that growth there has been a change in how we conduct our ministry.
Five years ago it was a very male-dominated ministry but as we progressed we increasingly came into contact with more female bikers. This created many more opportunities for Emma to be involved.
While Emma is not a member of God’s Squad (God’s Squad doesn’t have female members yet) the bikers would open up, especially when they find out I am an ordained minister. It’s a significant part of the ministry in the south Chapter.
It is easy to look at a biker and assume they have no faith, but often this is not the case. Many have faith in God – what they lack is faith in church.
And even those that don’t believe in God still have a faith they do believe in such as wiccans, pagans or Nordic gods. While they don’t believe in our God, their faith is just as important to them as ours is to us.
We don’t judge or condemn, but instead engage them in respectful discussions about faith. It is through discussion that we are able to share our faith.
Emma Walsh is a Baptist minister and the head librarian at Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Fez has been involved with God’s Squad for over 15 years both in Australia and the UK.
Emma and Fez (pictured) are happy to visit churches or groups to talk about the work of God’s Squad. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Picture of motorbike: narvikk / istockphoto.com