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Blessings come on two wheels (and sometimes three)

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By Brian Garner

Ask if the Ride for Jesus event on Sunday was a success, and anyone going past the Fred’s store parking lot in Chester that morning could tell you: the gathering drew at least 100 motorcycles and riders, if not more.
The event was started by Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Blackstock. Pastor Wendell Wylie joined ride organizer (and motorcycle rider) Al Boyd in the parking lot that morning.
Boyd said he was pleased with the participation, even though the weather may have kept a few riders from showing up.
“I think the level of participation is wonderful. We have more cars in the parking lot this time than before; a lot of people have trailered bikes and we have more vehicles, but they’re still here to support the Ride for Jesus, and I think that’s wonderful,” Boyd said.
Pastor Wylie added, “God is a wonder, and to have the support we have from all races, creeds, colors and religions – God is no respecter of person – to show the power of God’s unity. All we have to do is ask, and we asked and we fellowshipped with other bikers, and they just came together. We give all honor and glory to God for the great things He has done,” Wylie said.
Ty Eckard, the leader of the Crimson Crusaders Motorcycle Ministry from Landmark Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C. said they came to support the Ride for Jesus.
“We met Al (Boyd) over the winter, and he invited us to come down here and we said we’d love to come. We all met for breakfast this morning and it was a nice enjoyable ride down here. The Ride is all about fellowship and brotherhood; we’re all Sons and Daughters of Christ.”
For many of the motorcycle riders, their faith is just as much an important part of their equipment as is their motorcycle helmet.
Presidente Jose Perez with the Columbia, S.C. chapter of the Latin American Motorcycle Association (“Lama”), said they participated in the Ride last year and they had about 10 riders from their chapter of Lama here this time.
As the sun started to beat down and the threat of rain later continued to loom but not dampen the spirits of the group of riders (who had been joined by Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood on his “chopper” bike – looking every inch the biker with black t-shirt and fingerless gloves), it was time to get started.
Boyd commandeered the microphone from a Chester County Sheriff’s cruiser as a biker in the crowd yelled out “Hey, Big Al! How does it feel to be in the front seat instead of the back seat of one of those?” to the accompaniment of general merriment from the crowd.
“Morning!” Boyd’s amplified voice boomed over the parking lot. The response was a weak “Good morning.”
“Let me say that again. I know you rolled a long way to get here; a lot of people couldn’t make it, didn’t have the courage to do what you’re doing, so I’ll say it again: Good morning!”
He got a better response the second time.
“Before we start, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming, supporting and being here to Ride for Jesus. It took guts…it took courage…it took motivation…it took devotion. It took a love for Christ, to do what you’re doing, and we appreciate it. We at Mt. Zion appreciate it, and on behalf of the civic community, we appreciate it,” said Boyd.
Boyd then described the route: turn left out of the Fred’s parking lot, proceed up Columbia Road to the Bypass, turn left again at the light onto the Bypass and turn right onto Lancaster Highway and proceed down that highway, “where the mighty fine Chester County Sheriff’s Office will lead us directly into the Gateway.”
The Rolling Thunder motorcycle club would provide the parking assist and once in the Gateway, “we’re going to praise the Lord for a while, we’re going to sannng (I didn’t say “sing”) for a while and then being the mighty fine Baptists that we are, we’re going to eat.
“I’m going to turn things over to Pastor Murdoch, who will give us his prayer, and once he gives us his prayer, saddle up,” Boyd told the crowd.
With a roar from a hundred or more exhaust pipes, the blessed gathering moved down the road on two wheels…and sometimes three.

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For more on the bike ride, see Sharon Furr's column in Friday's paper.