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Riding for Jesus

Riders in motorcycle ministry use love of bikes to spread the gospel

Riders in motorcycle ministry use love of bikes to spread the gospel

April 13, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Before he gave his life to God, Jay Bogle was a "rebellious" Marine-turned biker, fresh out of Vietnam.

"I had hair down to my shoulders, long beard," said Bogle, who lives in Chambersburg, Pa. "I was one of those rowdies out there riding and drinking in bars. I was rebellious."

Today, Bogle rides for Jesus.

Bogle is a member of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, a nonprofit ministry for bikers who use their love for motorcycles to spread the word of God.

Chapters hold monthly meetings, host rides and "bike blessings" - where bikers pray over the bikes and pray for the safety of the riders - and raise money for Christian charities.

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Last year, the Christian Motorcyclists Association's annual bike-a-thon fundraiser, Run for the Son, raised $3.6 million, said Mary Kelley, support center director at the Christian Motorcyclists Association's headquarters in Arkansas.

Kelley said the ministry has thousands of chapters throughout the U.S. and abroad. Locally, there are chapters in Chambersburg, Charles Town, W.Va., Frederick, Md., and Hagerstown. Bogle is the president of the Chambersburg chapter, Glory Land Riders #583.

The Christian Motorcyclists Association attracts Christians from all walks of life. The ministry has an estimated 50,000 members, Kelley said. There is no fee to join, but would-be members must fill out an application and be Christian.

"Bikers might seem like rough-and-tough types, but they have spiritual needs," said Brenden Slifer, president of the Hagerstown chapter, Kingdom Heirs #459.

Slifer said members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association attend the same conventions and gatherings as other bikers. Slifer said they are respected by groups such as the Hells Angels.

"We can rub elbows with them with no problems," Slifer said.

Bogle said a bike blessing in Gettysburg, Pa., on Sunday, April 20, is expected to draw 2,000 to 4,000 bikers. Slifer said the Hagerstown chapter will hold a low-key bike blessing during its meeting Saturday, April 19.

Slifer, who lives in Keedysville, grew up in the church and got his first bike when he was 16. He spent his childhood riding mini bikes on the country roads of rural Boonsboro.

For a time, he sang in a gospel group. When that disbanded, he joined the Christian Motorcyclists Association.

"I thought, that's a great way to fill that void of going out and doing ministry, because that's what we do," Slifer said.

Slifer keeps religious pamphlets and information about the Christian Motorcyclists Association in the side saddle of his 900-pound Yamaha Venture.

"We always look for opportunities to spread the gospel," Slifer said.

Bogle said he and his wife, Melanie, decided to join the Christian Motorcyclists Association after they got married because they wanted to ride with other Christians.

Before they met at church, Bogle said he drank and did drugs. It was 1976 and he had just come back from Vietnam. It wasn't until his neighbor convinced him to attend church in 1978 that Bogle changed his ways for good.

"That morning I knew I would never be the same," Bogle said.

Bogle gave his life to God that year, putting a stop to the drinking and drug use. He also met Melanie, who went to the same church but was going to college in Charlotte, N.C.

"On our first date, I took her on a four-hour ride. She kind of liked it," Bogle said.

In May, they plan to celebrate their anniversary with a bike ride to "some place warm."

The Bogles have two children, who are now adults and avid bikers.

"It's in our blood," Jay Bogle said.




Find a local chapter



The Christian Motorcyclists Association has chapters throughout the Tri-State area. Most chapters meet monthly. To find a local chapter, go to the Christian Motorcyclists Association's Web site, www.cmausa.org.

Hagerstown

Kingdom Heirs #459

The chapter meets the third Saturday of the month. The chapter's next meeting is 9 a.m. Saturday, April 19, at Richardson's Restaurant, 710 Dual Highway, Hagerstown.

Call 301-432-5274 for more information.

Chambersburg, Pa.

Glory Land Riders #583

The chapter meets the fourth Saturday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, April 26. Call 717-597-4626 for details on the time and location.

Charles Town, W.Va.

Messiah's Messengers #806

For more information about the West Virginia chapter, go to http://cmaner5.org/WV/MESSIAHSMESSENGERS/

'Run for the Son'

Christian Motorcyclists Association chapters everywhere are gearing up for the 20th annual Run for the Son on Saturday, May 3.

The Christian Motorcyclists Association's yearly fundraiser is organized like a bike-a-thon by individual chapters, which typically organize 100-mile long rides. Participants accept per-mile donations, said Mary Kelley, support center director at the Christian Motorcyclists Association's headquarters in Arkansas.

The money raised will be given to international missionary groups and will support the domestic evangelical efforts of the Christian Motorcycle Association, Kelley said.

For schedule information, go to www.cmausa.org.

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