Motorcycles, and their riders, can provoke mixed feelings amongst the public at large.
Since the 1950s and 60s bikes have become more than just a form of transport, with many people choosing to ride as a way of life and become part of a mysterious world with its own language, lifestyle, and style of dress. They can be perceived as loud, aggressive, and contemptuous of mainstream society.
It was this subculture which attracted the notice of an Arkansas pastor in the early 1970s. Along with his son, Herb Shreve bought a bike and started attending rallies. Then, and now, bike rallies were not for the faint-hearted! They encountered thousands of people who lived only for their bikes and for partying. They had no time for the church, and as far as Herb could see, the church had no time for them. After many setbacks and initial resistance, his burden for bikers led to the formation of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, or CMA. It grew rapidly in the USA, and the idea was taken up in many countries around the globe. Here in the UK it started independently as the Christian Bikers’ Association, becoming part of CMA Worldwide in 1983.
CMA UK has 27 branches representing counties or areas. There is only one paid employee, the National Chairman, and all other CMA workers are volunteers.
Their mission is simple: to take the Gospel out into the motorcycling community.
CMA is not a riding club made up of enthusiasts of a particular make of bike or a social group – although they do lots of riding, love their bikes and are very sociable! First and foremost they want to share the love they’ve experienced in Jesus.
That’s not done through turning up at a rally or event with a pocketful of tracts. It takes time to build relationships and to gain the trust and respect of bikers. You really have to earn the right to tell your story and show the way. That means going out to bike shows, rallies, dealerships and cafes; to the places where bikers are. Sometimes that will be on the road or just filling up with petrol. But it means being consistent, being humble, and being different.
The CMA does, however, have tracts. They try to make them as meaningful and relevant to bikers as possible. One of the most important tools in their toolbox is the “Bikers’ Bible”, a modern translation of the New Testament which includes the testimonies of many bikers who have encountered Jesus for themselves. It’s free of charge to motorcyclists and is extremely popular. To date they have given away 120,000 copies.
The Suffolk branch of CMA is relatively new, forming as an offshoot of the Essex branch. There are eleven members and nine supporters, plus a lot of friends! Activities include ride-outs, barbecues, Bible studies, film nights, and going to all sorts of biker events.
CMA Suffolk is always looking for people with a heart for bikers, so if you’re reading this and feel that God is calling you into this exciting ministry, please get in touch via their website bike.org.uk . You don’t necessarily have to be a biker, just have a passion for taking God’s message out to those people He longs to save.