Story by Heidi Shoemaker
This May more than 500 people in South Africa learned about Jesus at a Rev It Up! Revival evangelistic meeting led by Tom Hughes, a pastor in the Ohio Conference.
The South African-based End Time Messengers Ministry (ETMM) asked Hughes to lead his Rev It Up! Revival evangelistic meetings at the Auxano church in Springs, Gauteng province. The weeklong series opened with a large event at the Springs Rugby Club, drawing more than 500 people on 350 motorcycles. The event included biker games, blood donations and food, and drew the attention of local media. "It is important that people relate to bikers like they would any other person,” Hughes says, “I am a mix of two worlds: I’m a biker and a pastor.”
Fred Kuter, ETMM treasurer, says “The aim with this event is to bring people closer to the Lord. A lot of people don’t associate bikers with the church, but we want to change that. Our message is, we are bikers and we are a ministry.”
Hughes (pictured above with Gert Vermaak, ETMM president and event organizer) and the ETMM team spent the remainder of the week preaching to nearly 100 visitors nightly at the Auxano church, ministering to people in the local community and distributing books. Hughes and the local motorcycle club also delivered a wheelchair to a little boy. “It is time for bikers to take the Lord to the people,” says Hughes.
Locals responded favorably to the event. More than 180 people made decisions for Christ that week, with 20 requesting church membership. “This was a pure God thing! God blessed us in every way and made it a huge success,” says Hughes.
The Vermaak family, who are bikers in Springs, started ETMM in 2014 with the mission and vision of spreading the gospel to all bikers. “About a year and a half ago, they contacted me and began asking for my advice about the [Bible Biker] ministry,” says Hughes. “They wanted to be a South African branch of Bible Biker Ministries.” After obtaining ministry club patches and permission to use Hughes’ model for their evangelistic campaign, ETMM began reaching bikers for Christ.
The group purchased a church building (pictured above) and named themselves the Auxano [Place of Growth] Bible Biker church. The 30 members are officially part of the local Northern Conference church. More than 50 attend weekly.