Why travel to Sturgis?

by Brian Davis
Thursday, August 28, 2014 | 33 days old

“You’re doing what?” was the response I got from most everyone I told as I shared the news that I was planning to ride my motorcycle to the 74th Annual Black Hills Motor Classic, also known as Sturgis.  On July 31 I joined a group of 11 other riders (plus two who rode in a support vehicle) as we made the journey to South Dakota. We rode our bikes through all kinds of weather, covering over 4,000 miles, and joined other Southern Baptists from across the country in the efforts of the Dakotas Baptist State Convention to engage bikers with the gospel.

Certainly there are closer bike rallies, but Sturgis is the oldest and largest of them all. Sturgis is also a place where almost anything goes. Only the barest amount of clothing is required, alcohol flows freely, language is course, the sound of loud pipes is more than thunderous—it’s almost deafening. But people are lost, hurting, and hopeless; in need of hearing the story of how Christ Jesus has changed your life and mine.

Those that volunteer to work with the Dakota Convention fill numerous roles. Some are “catchers” – engaging passersby in conversation in order to get them to enter the tent to hear the gospel and register for a chance to win a 2014 Harley Davidson Road King. Others take those who enter the tent from the catchers and share the story of how Christ has changed their lives. A few are needed to actually assist individuals register for the drawing. Some are sent out into the streets with tickets advertising the giveaway and encouraging bikers to visit the tent. It was while engaged in this portion of the effort that I came to fully understand why it’s so necessary for North Carolina Baptists to make the trip to Sturgis.

While standing on a street corner distributing tickets, I watched a young woman, very scantily dressed, walking down the street with several men following behind her. By the expressions on their faces I knew why the men were following this girl. Not everyone in Sturgis will speak to you, much less allow you to make eye contact, but this young lady allowed me to do both.

“Would you like a chance to win a 2014 Harley Davidson Road King?”  I asked.  “What?  How can I win a bike?  What do I have to do?” she replied. I told her all she needed to do is take a right at the corner, walk about half way down the block and she would see the bike under a tent. The folks inside would then explain the rest – volunteers are not allowed to evangelize in the streets; only under the tent. It’s at that point she looked me in the eye; it was a hollow and vacant stare. She said, “But I’m working.”  You could not only hear the pain in her voice but see it in her eyes. This young lady was obviously in a situation she wanted out of.  I replied, “We’re open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., please come see us; there are people here who can help you.”

With that, she took the ticket, and continued down the street – men in tow – walking towards one of the many saloons.

I could not help but fear that because of the size of the rally, hundreds of young women might be in the same situation in Sturgis. This young woman’s pain, despair and hopelessness continue to burden me; yet I know that the gospel has the power to deliver her from each of these and more. I hope that you will begin praying for the efforts that will take place in 2015 during the Sturgis rally. Next year will be the 75th anniversary of the rally and organizers hope that one million bikers will attend. I’m praying that hundreds of North Carolina Baptists will either volunteer to engage bikers with the gospel or pray for those that make the trip to Sturgis to do so.

Most importantly, I’m aware that the same story might very well be repeated here in North Carolina.  That’s often one of the many lessons learned on mission trips: God takes us elsewhere to help us see the same needs in our own communities.

For more information about the work of the Dakotas Baptist State Convention during the annual Sturgis rally, visit www.sturgisbikegiveaway.com