In the car that will lead the way around to the back of the prison is one of the wardens and a correctional officer. The bikes enter the holding area at the back, locked between two gates as the C.O.’s go through the bags of each bike to make sure that they left everything in the plastic bags that were left in the van in the parking lot.
Then after the gate in front opens, then another, this slow roaring processional winds it way through the prison yard. Later separated into two groups, the bikes come to a stop in lines just as the inmates start on their way to lunch
Many of them are just like you. They are bankers, businessmen, white collar workers, blue collar workers, preachers, teachers…they represent every walk of life…and that is just the inmates.
Some of those on the bikes are also like you, but some you might consider misfits if you judged them by looking at them. Some of them have long hair, short hair, or no hair. Some of the guys have skin that looks like leather and tattoos from a past life before they came to know the Lord.
There are ladies in the biker bunch, too. Many came on the back of bikes, where others rode their own. Some of these have never felt like they fit into our churches, either because of their past or what they look like or just they fact that they enjoy this lifestyle. But for the next few hours, they are going to be ministers of the gospel to a world that desperately needs both to hear the message and to be encouraged to stand strong in a hostile environment.
Later in the gym, there will be a Christian band playing, followed by testimonies from some of the bikers, a short sermon, then a time for response from the inmates. They will also get an invitation to come to a series of classes that will be taught in the unit for the next couple of weeks.
We have had a heart for both the bikers and the prisoners for years, but in these events we have seen something amazing. There is a bonding and a respect that the bikers may have not expected. The inmates know that these voluntarily take their own time to come into the unit to do this, plus they respect each biker, no matter how rugged they may look, as ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I saw a couple of bikers, that I have known for years, realize that although they might not be just like everyone in their local church; they were indeed part of the church and they, too, had a ministry that fit them just right. In the middle of a prison yard, dressed as they always did, standing next to their bike, they led someone in a prayer as they committed their life to Christ. They had a testimony that they could take back to their church and their community.