By Rich Brown
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Area motorcyclists hit road to raise funds for Christian outreach
Many Joplin-area motorcyclists are letting their lights shine today -- more from themselves than their headlights.
In pointing to Jesus as the light of the world, area members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association join others around the United States and Canada in CMA's annual fundraising ride, Run for the Son.
Every first Saturday in May, CMA bikers, including those from the Joplin and Baxter Springs chapters, will participate in rides of a minimum of 100 miles, with sponsors donating an agreed upon amount of money per mile. It is the biggest fundraiser of the year for CMA, which was founded in 1975 and has its headquarters in Hatfield, Ark.
Donations are split four ways with 20 percent going to Open Doors Ministry, which takes the Bible to countries where it is not available; 20 percent to Missionary Ventures, which provides transportation (usually motorcycles) to missionaries around the world; 20 percent to the Jesus Film Project, which has been shown around the world; and 40 percent to ministry opportunities at major rallies in the United States.
Those from the area participating are Glory Riders Chapter 458 of Joplin and Baxter Springs, Kan., Chapter 1183. A Carthage man, Gary Sheets, serves as president of the Joplin chapter, while Gil Starlin serves in that capacity for the Baxter Springs group.
The Glory Riders meet at 9 a.m. today at the Southwest Missouri Bank Community Building at the corner of Seventh and Duquesne streets. In addition to having a group prayer, donations from sponsors will be collected and instructions will be given for the ride, which will be at least a 100-mile round trip to Cassville and Roaring River. After having lunch, the group will return.
The Baxter Springs chapter also meets at 9 a.m. to go through much the same routine as the Glory Riders before heading to Vinita, Okla.
"When we get there, around noon, we will pray for our leaders and our country, then eat lunch," said Starlin. "On our way back, we will go to a secular rally between Parsons and Iola (Kan.) where we have a CMA booth set up and minister to people to try and get them to change their lives around."
Sheets, a residential building inspector for the City of Carthage, emphasized that every penny of the money raised goes into the CMA ministry, with no exceptions.
"Our focus is on ministry and the best ways and uses to do that, so we are sharing the good news of Christ's salvation," he said. "The term Ôministry' is used because we are not a club or bike group, but a ministry dedicated to reaching the lost by showing them the love of Christ and using our bikes as a tool."
Motorcycle and a prayer
Charlie Moore, a rider for the Baxter Springs chapter, said that after accepting Christ in his life, he was looking for a ministry when he came across CMA.
"I prayed and prayed, and then it just came to me," he said. "I said to myself, ÔCharlie, you ride your motorcycle everywhere. You can use it in your ministry.'"
And he said he is glad he did.
"Multitudes have been brought to the Lord through CMA," he said.
As a follow-up to "Run for the Son," the Joplin chapter will be holding a first-ever event in Carthage on Sunday. CMA Glory Riders Member Support Sunday will be held at 10:40 a.m. at Fairview Christian Church, 2320 S. Grand Ave.
"This will be like a bikers' Sunday," said Sheets, who attends First Christian Church in Carthage. "The idea is to build support for our chapter members, back them up, and show the community that we live in that we are unified. This will show solidarity and support for all members we have, as well as introduce people to those in our chapter."
Fairview has six CMA members attending there. They are Jerry and Dee Tiller, Cid and Cy Knight, Ernie Spencer and Jeff Stevenson.
Although the thrust of the CMA ministry takes place at motorcycling events, there is also a big evangelistic presence in prisons.
Sheets said the Glory Riders have also concentrated on an area outreach, such as one he calls their hot dog ministry. This is where members go to different motorcycle shops once a month and grill hot dogs or brats and give them away free, along with chips, cookies and water. This also provides ministry opportunities.
The next hot dog ministry outing will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 18 at the Hideout, the Harley Davidson shop on South Main Street, past the I-44 overpass.
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.