Originally published at World Ark.
I used to be a biker. Well, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. But I did own a motorcycle. In divinity school back in the late '90s, I rode a Honda Nighthawk. Back then I was a bad boy among the pious, a rebel in a black leather jacket who thought he was challenging the seminary status quo. My biking career was short-lived, though. I had a nasty wreck on a friend's motorcycle that left my right side Flayed, my ego bruised and my wallet empty. Eventually I sold the motorcycle. But my inner seminarian never entirely displaced my inner biker.
When I learned that a group of bikers from a nearby town—members of a "biker church" no less—were starting a feeding ministry called The Giving Table, a social enterprise model that joins local farmers, churches and the hungry, I knew I had to meet them. I called up Dwight "Bubba" Smith, an associate pastor at Crossfire United Methodist Church who manages the church's feeding ministries. Smith told me to come up for their big "Jesus Rocks" motorcycle rally. They would be doing a free barbecue lunch for the hungry that day, and maybe we could even visit one of their partner farms.
On the First Saturday in May last year, I got out my old leather jacket, pulled on my leather boots and, in a sad attempt to earn myself some street cred with the bikers, asked my 6-year-old son to paste a dinosaur tattoo on my left bicep. As I left the house on my way to Crossfire, however, I had a startling realization. Despite the year I spent pretending to be one, I had never actually met any real bikers. I wondered if they were really as bad as my mama said they were.