You've seen them - and heard them - on the highways and local roads. You've come upon them at intersections and traveling in packs, their engines pounding and racing in sync with your heart . . . while you hope to remain unnoticed. They are members of groups or gangs with comforting names such as Hell's Angels, Mongols, Outlaws and Pagans. Leather vests, tattoos, chain drive wallets and dark sunglasses often accompanied by some kind of facial hair and a not-so-friendly look in their eyes helps bring together the biker stereotype.
So, it would make perfect sense for a former NASA Space Shuttle analyst and part-time pleasure rider to go to the largest gatherings of bikers meeting at locations across the nation and point-blank ask them, "So, what are your dysfunctions?"
Perhaps more impressive is the fact he's lived to tell about it.
|Scott and Sally Bush|
Biker Chaplain Scott Bush, 48, has been ministering to bikers for nearly 20 years, the last five years as a nationally appointed AG U.S. missionary. Bush, his wife Sally and volunteers at biker events have been seeing God do incredible things in the lives of bikers.
At massive biker events where hundreds of thousands gather, such as in Leesburg, Florida; Daytona Beach, Florida; Panama City, Florida; and Sturgis, South Dakota; Bush has seen incredible results. "Of those who we get to talk to, about 25 percent make a decision for Christ," he says. "At Sturgis last year, 422 made the decision to accept Jesus Christ into their lives; at Leesburg just a few weeks ago, 184 chose Christ."
But just how does Bush see such great results among a group of people who pride themselves in being hard core; come with nicknames such as Snake, Wolf, Picnic Table, Mad Dog, Big Red, Stump and Darth; and seem to thrive on intimidation?
"Bikers are some of the most dysfunctional people you will ever meet," Bush explains, "and they're proud of it! At biker rallies, we set up a booth just like any other vendor and I have a motorcycle wheel called the 'Wheel of dysfunction.' We spin it and whatever dysfunction it lands on, that's the biker's dysfunction."
Now, although it's not advisable to tell just anyone that they're borderline psychotic, schizoid or narcissistic, with bikers (in a rally booth setting), it works.
|Chaplain Scott Bush with the popular "Wheel of Dysfunction."|
"They'll spin the wheel and land on one of these dysfunctions and their buddies will start laughing, and in less than two minutes we've built a relationship, a rapport with them," Bush says. "We then take them to the tent because everyone who spins, wins a prize, and we give them a salvation bracelet or key chain - at that point, we explain the steps to salvation and then God does the rest."
Bush says that he's found that bikers many times have a misconception about what it means to accept Christ as Savior. We're all on a spiritual journey that just begins when we accept Christ, he says. "When bikers find out how easy it is to accept Christ, many times they're like, 'Wow! I'll be glad to do that!'"
But Bush and his team don't just lead people to Christ and then abandon them. They give each one a Bible, a card that explains the plan of salvation and they follow-up with each biker by letter or e-mail checking in to see how they're doing and giving them a link to the AG Web site where they can find an AG church in their community to attend.
One might think that the reason Bush is in this line of ministry and is so effective is due to some kind of hard-line biker experience in his past, but that's not the case. Bush has a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science, a masters in Mental Health and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality (family counseling). He says that in the early 90s, God just gave him a passion to reach bikers - and he really can't explain why.
However, his Wheels of Faith Motor Ministries, which he also takes to car shows, is changing hundreds of lives month after month as well as planting spiritual seeds into the lives of many more.
One example of God producing a harvest that stands out clearly to Bush occurred last fall. A biker came by the booth in Panama City in 2008. They ran through the plan of salvation with him, but he wasn't ready to accept Christ. They gave him the materials, which he took home.
"His wife read through the materials and gave her life to Christ," Bush says, "and 10 months later, she led him to the Lord! This past fall, while walking around at Panama City, they stopped me and told me the whole story of their salvation."
Bush says that only once in all his years of ministry to bikers has he ever been given a hard time - a biker threatened to take his vest.
|As Chaplain Scott Bush talks with one biker, other bikers look on and stand in line, ready to spin the Wheel of Dysfunction for themselves.
"We had a conversation, a very good 'conversation,' where basically I let him know that it [taking my vest] wasn't going to happen," Bush recalls. "A short time later, I led him to the Lord. I also did his wedding ceremony, and then some years later, I did his funeral."
Although some may raise their eyebrows at this, Bush says bikers are just regular people. He admits their culture is very different, but when the salvation message is presented to them in a setting based on rapport, they frequently respond.
"As I tell my volunteers, if you can win someone to you, you can win them to the Lord," Bush says. "If they don't like you, you're not going to be very successful."
For more information about Chaplain Scott Bush's ministry to bikers or to learn how to volunteer with his ministry, see his Web site.