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Heaven's Saints "This is not a club. This is a ministry geared toward Service"
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By Haydn Jensen

Think bikers. What comes to mind? Harleys, black leather, and tough looking dudes with tatoos and serious expressions? That's the stereotype. Sure, there are plenty of other people who ride motorcycles...men and women from all walks of life, who ride all different types of bikes, but, the stereotype remains.

Now think Christian bikers. What do you see? Last Saturday I met about 50 Christian Bikers from Heaven’s Saints Motorcycle Ministry (HSMM). They had all gathered following the big Friday 13 Ride to Port Burwell.

After walking up a suburban front driveway full of Harleys, in the backyard I met a lot of bikers...mostly in black leather with tatoos...and yes, many looked like serious dudes who would get respect anywhere. But, instead of feeling intimidated, I was welcomed by friendly smiles and hospitality, making me feel right at home. These were men and women, and some kids, gathered from Canada and the U.S. for lunch at the home of Vaughn Blackmore, Road Captain for the London Chapter.

After some conversations it became clear to me that these folks were both joyful and serious. They showed joy in their salvation relationship with Jesus Christ, and seriousness in their concern for the spiritual safety of others.

HSMM began in the 80's through former Hell’s Angel-turned Christian, Barry Mayson. Mayson's story is not pretty--he calls his pre-Christian life "hell on earth". You can watch a video of Barry telling his powerful story here: [link: www.heavenssaints.com/Barry--Mayson-Intro-Video/index.html]. In the video, you'll hear Barry share how his own mother prophesied to him that God called Barry to be like Moses, leading people from lives of bondage to freedom. His mother told him that even though he was a Hell's Angel Chapter President. Sound strange? You better watch the video.

You'll be able to recognize a Heaven's Saints biker from the Christian Flag on the back of their jacket--white flag with a red cross inside a smaller blue rectangle in the top left corner (see pictures). If you see one on the road, give them a big wave and you'll be sure to get a wave in return, even if you're not on a bike.

The HSMM is entirely run by volunteers, with 32 chapters in the U.S. and 5 chapters in Canada. Each chapter generally has a president and an appointed chaplain. If you visit the London Chapter website (see below), you'll learn that members are expected to actively serve in ministry. Their message is clear: "This is not a club. This is a ministry geared toward SERVICE. Don’t get involved if you don’t want to serve the Lord Jesus Christ."

Chatting with Heaven's Saints Canadian National President, Tim Carson, I learned that each chapter chooses to do ministry work where it is most needed and where the chapter is best equipped. Ministry to other bikers is, of course, the most natural connection. So, in Port Dover on Friday 13th with over 100,000 bikers gathered, HSMM partnered with a local Anglican Church to run a booth where they could give out water bottles, Bibles, ministry materials, and engage people in conversation. Sharing stories and getting to know people's needs and interests naturally leads to ongoing ministry impact--like invitations to the fellowship lunch I attended--"It's a family affair. We're all children of God and that's what it's all about!", says Vaughn Blackmore.

The London chapter operates neighbourhood ministry using meeting space provided by Open Door Christian Fellowship (on Dundas near Quebec St). This arrangement gives the ministry a local presence and better opportunity to connect with London bikers and others in the neighbourhood--often including people on the street or working the streets--through regular meetings and social events. They meet locally at 930 Dundas Street (Open Door Fellowship) on most Saturdays from 1:00-3:30 and everyone is welcome to attend. Members also speak monthly at the Men's Mission, participate in regional motorcycle shows and fundraisers for local charities. Last Sunday the group ran a fundraiser ride for the London Food Bank.

HSMM puts great emphasis on discipleship and accountability. Most Christians know that we are meant to grow not in isolation but together for fellowship and support. Many of those that Heaven's Saints members reach are in serious battles against physical and spiritual dangers--drugs, alcohol, criminal and gang activity, prostitution. So, the discipleship and support available through Heaven’s Saints can be that much more effective because many of these members have been down similar roads, giving them street credibility and wisdom from a wealth of hard life experience. As an example, here's London Chaplain Dave Ashton's invitation to those recently released from prison and wanting to get their life "back on track":

"As someone who has been on the "inside", I feel I have a good understanding of how it feels to try and pick up where you left off. My experience with unfair treatment and feelings of 'no future' are common to everyone who is released into an unforgiving world. No one should ever have to try and get back on track alone. Old habits are easy to fall back into without someone you can trust to help you move forward."

Incoming International President John Zammetti, or "Z-man" sums up the ministry nicely: "We are passionate about motorcycles--for a lot us, we were raised to see the Harley as our god. Once we got saved, we're still passionate about motorcycles--two wheels and a motor, that's something else and you just can’t get away from that. Now we’re extremely, extremely passionate about Jesus Christ. That forms the bond. Those two things--what else is there?"

So, if you ride, or appreciate bike culture, perhaps you want to get involved.

London Chapter Contacts:
Dave Ashton - Chapter Chaplain
519-409-1331
ddashton@yahoo.com
Terry Lacey - Chapter President
519-688-8053
tj_heavensaints@hotmail.com