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BG Nevitt Makes Headlines With Purchase of Customized AG Chopper
4/11/07
 
The following article was written by Dan Van Veen, Editor of AG News & The Council Today of the Assemblies of God Office of Public Relations. It will soon appear on the AG News circuit. Comments can be emailed to Pastor BG at bg@gtstaff.com.

Polished, gleaming chrome. Sparkling, rich colors. A saddle slung low, the handlebars up high and a powerful 96 cubic inch engine that emits a rumble of attention-grabbing thunder whenever the throttle is given a squeeze.

For the congregation of Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Decatur, Illinois, that description probably means one of two things: Another of Pastor BG Nevitt’s leather-wearing, road-loving biker friends has just pulled into the church parking lot or . . . the pastor himself has just arrived on his custom chopper.

A senior pastor wearing leathers and riding a fully customized “candy-flame” chopper? Isn’t that a bit over the edge?

Perhaps it might be for some. But for Nevitt and his biker-friendly congregation, nothing makes more sense.

The bike is an attention magnet. With the bike, Nevitt will have an immediate audience wherever he goes. Whether a veteran biker or a kid with a motor scooter, the chopper turns heads and draws a crowd.

But then imagine the crowds’ surprise at a pastor on a chopper and seeing this one-of-kind custom ride up close. For this is no “ordinary” chopper--this is the “Heroes of the Faith” chopper designed and built by Ron Masten, executive pastor of First Assembly of God, McAlester, Oklahoma, along with members and friends of the church.

The chopper is an Assemblies of God exclusive. The wheels have machined Speed the Light, AG and Light for the Lost (LFTL) logos; the seat has “Heroes of the Faith” and AG logos embroidered into it; the fuselage has a hand-painted LFTL logo and AG World Missions and U.S. Missions scrolls; the gas cap features LFTL Councilmen pins; and there are other custom touches — the machine is a true AG ministry original.

But it isn’t a stretch to say that Nevitt and the members of Glad Tidings are what some might call an unusual church. For not only do they say they’re a “biker friendly” church, they live it.

According to Nevitt, the church caters to bikers — and in the process, has seen lives transformed.

“The best parking spots at our church are reserved for bikers,” Nevitt says. “That speaks to them.”

But it’s not just about parking spots. Nevitt says bikers find real acceptance at Glad Tidings.

“Someone comes in looking rough, and people automatically assume they’re one of pastor’s friends,” Nevitt says with a laugh. “But they treat them like royalty, helping them find the best seat, buying them a cup of coffee, whatever it takes. I would challenge you to find one person who is intimidated by the biker persona — there’s a real and open acceptance [of bikers].”

Along with a genuine welcome at the church, bikers are also drawn to Glad Tidings through special events held each year.

One of the events is called the “Blessing of the Bikes.” Glad Tidings works with the Harley-Davidson dealer in the community to host the event — this year to be held on Sunday, April 22.

Nevitt says that the first year they held the event, about 28 bikers came with their bikes to be blessed - a prayer of safety. But on the 22nd, Nevitt expects to see more than 1,500 bikers and bikes at the event.

Then on Father’s Day, the church hosts a car and motorcycle show.

“That draws even bigger crowds than Easter — it’s a huge day,” says Nevitt. “So many people come to these events [Blessing of the Bikes and the show] that have no interest in church . . . and now, every week, as I look out over the congregation, I see people I know the first time we met was at one of these events.”

Nevitt says that many people have started attending Glad Tidings through the events — not to mention, due to the relationships started and built through the events.

“All of this, the bike, the events, we use to build bridges to reach people who aren’t walking with the Lord,” Nevitt says.

“I heard about the [Heroes of the Faith] bike through David Plake, the former Men’s Ministries director for the Illinois District,” Nevitt recalls. “He knows I’m involved in motorcycle ministry, and he called me and told me, ‘You really need to see this bike.’”

At first, Nevitt wasn’t overly interested. He had a Harley. But then Masten called. Plake, convinced Nevitt should purchase the chopper, had contacted Masten as well. After seeing the pictures of the bike, the ministry emphasis of it (one might say, “Etched all over it”), and that the money used to purchase the chopper would all go to missions, Nevitt knew Plake was right — the chopper was ideal for his ministry.

“The bike fit perfectly with what I am doing in biker ministry and it [the proceeds of the sale] benefited missions,” Nevitt says. “It seemed like a win-win situation.”

Although Masten had originally hoped the auction of the chopper would raise closer to the retail price, he says the church is excited that Nevitt was the purchaser.

“We are very happy with BG and his ministry,” Masten says. “The most important aspect of the whole project is that it [the chopper] will remain in ministry and continue to make a difference in missions and ministry.”

Although Nevitt hasn’t taken the chopper out on the road yet — he’s having it tweaked a bit — he hopes to have it ready for the Blessing of the Bikes event.

“But the word is leaking out,” he says. “I’m being stopped regularly by bikers saying, ‘Heard you got a chopper — can’t wait to see it!’”

Of course, that’s just what Nevitt wants to hear.

“Making friends and building bridges with people who don’t yet know the Lord,” he says, “that’s my whole heartbeat when I get on a bike.”
 
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