When I was a college student I attended a “revival” in the town of Hollywood, Georgia. That’s right, Hollywood, Georgia. Hollywood is a county crossroads not a mecca for the rich and famous. It has a diner, a church, and not much else. This revival was a week-long gathering when people of the community crammed their families into the pews to sing rousing gospel songs, to hear the pleadings of the best visiting evangelist the church could afford.
As I made my way to the door I passed by a long line of Harley Davidson motorcycles. These were not the Baby Boomer playthings so many graying men and women ride today as a hobby or youthful escape. No, these were hardcore, gang-style cycles. And just inside the church, occupying the back pew, lo and behold, there sat the gang. Leather, studs, rippling arms, ponytails, tattoos: It was the complete Hell’s Angels package, sitting in a Baptist church in Hollywood, Georgia. Being a young, eager revivalist myself, I said to my friend, “Good. Maybe these heathen will get saved tonight.” And I meant it.
After the service got started, the pastor called on one of the deacons of the church to come forward and offer a prayer and word of introduction. One of those wicked bikers rose from his seat and started down the aisle. This chaps-wearing biker with a beard to his waist was the aforementioned deacon. I found out later that this biker-deacon was a self-financed missionary to the road houses, biker bars, strip clubs, and truck stops of America.
He entered places that good Christian people would never be caught, not even to share the gospel. He went to places where people drank too much, showed too much skin, engaged in too much sensuality, and waged too much violence. But there he led Bible studies, prayed for those who thought they didn’t have a prayer left, and even baptized a few souls in the truck stop showers when necessary.
I left that Hollywood church thinking that it would have been better to give the revival budget to this biker’s ministry rather than spending it on some flamboyant evangelist with a bouffant hair-do and expensive cuff links. And I left with a lesson scorched deep in my conscience: Never point a finger or a prayer at those you consider sinners. They may be more holy than you can imagine.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.