On Bikers Down Under and Faith

GS INT BK RGBWhen I think of a biker club I don’t necessarily think of God. But we learned that the two can in fact go together really well.

Seriously, we get to meet some of the most amazing people, in some of the most diverse sub-cultures. Meeting kinfolk at the Surrender Conference who were associated with God’s Squad was no exception. We were loosely connect to them through our friend and fellow muso, Sammy Horner and found our way to St. Martins Anglican Church in Collingwood two years prior. St. Martins is a hub for God’s Squad founding father, John Smith. But this was the first time we’d been invited into the home of a biker and must say it made quite an impact on our whole family.

IMG_7046Our host family was welcoming and genuine. We spent a few days listening, living alongside and sharing sacred space with Renee, Di, their talented and beautiful children and extended community. They live just on the outskirts of Glenrowan, VIC; the famous town of the outlaw, Ned Kelly. They were no holds barred about their faith and consistent in sharing truth and love with those around them. In fact, we experienced a revolving door of folks from their community through out our visit.

Renee is a fantastic fine artist, bike craftsman and club president for the chapter in their area. And, Di his wife, is a seminary student and gifted prayer warrior. When we arrived Renee was working on restoring a bike and he and his kids welcomed us with a warm cup of tea and a tour around the bike shop and property. Di came home soon after and we dove right into spiritually minded conversations, made dinner and learned about the biker world and their vocational call to God’s Squad.

We learned that God’s Squad was established in the late 1960’s in Sydney, Australia and founded on a broader basis, under the leadership of John Smith, in Melbourne 1972, where the club colors continue to fly. The club primarily exists to come alongside the ‘outlaw biker fraternity’ and associated groups, where it is an accepted and relevant expression of the Christian church. Since its birth, out of the counter-culture “Jesus movement” days of the late 60’s it has continued, over four decades, to devote its efforts amongst those on the fringes of society. 

Membership is by invitation only, as building a culture of respect and trust is crucial to their endeavors. Most of them ride Harleys, British or big Japanese chops. Folks that join do so based on a sense of a vocational calling. And, when asked about wearing colors, they resound with an 100% committed to their faith and calling– and therefore their patch. Although their lifestyle may be different from other clubs, they connect on a common ground of fighting for injustice, living by a different code, and a willingness to die for their faith. They feel that their commitment to their club and patch is symbolic to their commitment to God. Although, they do believe that their faith is a matter of grace free to all, and club colors are earned. Needless to say, they are serious about who they are and what their purpose is. I don’t know about you but it was refreshing and inspiring to see kinfolk with this sort of commitment to God and their fellow-man.



Australia; Communing with the Saints

One Sunday morning we made our way to John Smith’s, St. Martin’s Anglican Church in Collingwood, VIC. Other than having a strong, blue-collar, Aussie rules football following, Collingwood is a pretty average part of town, especially the area where St. Martin’s serves. It’s the rough side of the tracks, so to speak.

Our contact was Shirley. She was straight talking, tender-hearted and streetwise. She showed us the ropes and allowed us to share our story, songs and encouragement freely.  It’s always a privilege to serve through song but it was quite liberating to also be entrusted with the “message of the day.”  That message was not much different from that of what we might share in the local folk club, which is “be open, be reconciled and enjoy sharing in life and community with one another.” except here in this setting, we were invited to bring in a deeper understanding of this message. We were allowed to teach from the Holy Scriptures on the message of reconciliation and relate those teachings in practical ways to our relationships with one another and with God.

It was a good challenge for us. We tend to be more esoteric in our thinking, with our ideology wafting in and out of our conversation and song. So, to sit down and really have to put our minds in order, to study and create a lesson worth listening to, well, that was something.

Over the next few weeks we had appointments at a few other churches, including a small Baptist church on the coast and a Wesleyan church set in an ethnic suburb, lead by one of Craig’s old youth leaders. We were pleasantly surprised by the openness they all expressed in allowing us to curate the morning and their invitation to join in community over meals in the following days.

These opportunity to share in communion with the Saints made us stronger in our own personal faith, in a greater understanding of our purpose and ignited a deeper love for others. What a delight to be interconnected with such beautifully messy souls, to be accepted and encouraged and to take that encouragement to the ends of the earth.