LAKE CITY–James Grimes has been the director of the FAITH Riders chapter at Gateway Baptist Church in Lake City for only three years but he’s already looking for ways to expand it beyond the city and county.
As Grimes will tell you, FAITH Riders is a motorcycle ministry passionate about sharing Christ with the world. The group rides together, but also take part in events to share the gospel. The Lake City chapter is one of 56 in the state, one of 380 nationwide.
“I pray constantly that God will set a path of growth for us,” he said. “Our vision statement is to train and coordinate motorcycle ministries throughout local churches in the Southern Baptist Convention for the purpose of evangelism and discipleship of the motorcycle ministry.”
He wants to start working with churches in the surrounding six county area – like Baker, Suwannee and Union, for example – to identify members who might want to join FAITH Riders. While most churches likely have only a handful of riders, those riders could participate in the Lake City chapter.
“It would be great to have even more Christian riders gathering together for fellowship and presenting the gospel to the public,” he said.
There are currently about 16 members in his chapter but not everyone has a motorcycle. That’s right, you don’t have to own a motorcycle to be a member of FAITH Riders. “Motorcycles are not a requirement. If you’ve got a tricycle, grab it and come on and we’ll make it work,” he said with a laugh.
Grimes said the chapter is part of the ministry of his church and they minister to the local community and beyond to the harvest field, as he calls it, traveling to festivals and bike events throughout Florida, Georgia and up to North Carolina. For most trips they keep it to 200 to 300 miles one way. Some in the group ride their motorcycles, while others bring supplies in their vehicles.
“The Great Commission tells us to go and that’s what we do,” he said. “God has the plan. We just try to follow it.”
Two of the largest events they participate in each year are the spring and fall bike week events in Daytona Beach. Grimes said chapters from around the state stay at First Baptist Church of Daytona, where there is a service each night, including preaching and live music.
“It’s amazing. You get a bunch of old bikers together, especially Christians and the first thing we do is break out in praise. We have church every night. Lives are changed, souls are saved.”
During the day, they set up a canopy at the Daytona International Speedway where members participate in one-on-one evangelizing. The past few years their tent has attracted many bikers with a Harley Davidson motorcycle giveaway.
To enter the drawing, attendees must listen to a three-minute presentation of the gospel by one of the FAITH Riders.
“That is a huge draw to anyone walking the street,” he said. “They have to allow three minutes plus to tell them about how Jesus has changed our lives and they can register for this drawing. Generally, about 10 percent will accept Christ as their savior. It’s a very worthwhile ministry.”
During a full week, he estimates they may have 4,000 to 5,000 people stop by to listen to a gospel presentation, with about 500 accepting Christ that week.
Since FAITH Riders started in Florida in 2002, approximately 103,134 gospel presentations have been shared at various events with more than 13,000 making professions of faith in Christ.
“Just think about the ones accepting Christ. If one or two of those talked about Christ and led others to salvation, that 13,000 would grow tremendously,” he said. “God has blessed us so much. It’s unbelievable.”
At smaller events, like a Blueberry or Strawberry Festival or the like, they will typically set up their canopy and offer attendees the opportunity to win $50 in exchange for listening to the gospel presentation.
Grimes, who is 78 and rides a Honda Gold Wing, has been riding motorcycles for almost 50 years and estimates he’s ridden 70,000 to 80,000 miles in his lifetime. While he loves riding and the open road, he loves sharing his faith even more. That’s why he’s excited about growing FAITH Riders.
“Through this ministry I have the joy of riding my motorcycle and presenting the saving grace of His gospel. God has allowed me to lead several people to Him. I have been asked what is the most exciting thing about riding in FAITH Riders? I’ll always answer it’s when a person says yes to Jesus! There’s nothing better than that!”