Riding to church

Participants in  the Christian biker group called Rods ‘N’ Rides travel Highway 75 from Sioux Center to Paullina in 2016. Rods ‘N’ Rides will make the same trip on July 21, and everyone is invited to join.  

SIOUX CENTER—Christian bikers will travel from Sioux Center to Paullina on Sunday, July 21.

The group — Rods ’N’ Rides — is composed of mostly motorcycle enthusiasts and classic car drivers and five times every year they drive from the Centre Mall in Sioux Center to a previously chosen location where an outdoor worship service is available.

They will leave the mall at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and arrive at Mill Creek Park in Paullina at 10 a.m. Coffee and cookies will be available before the service and lunch will be held at Godfather’s Pizza in Cherokee afterward.

“The Mill Creek Park is nice and we invite the campers to join us,” said Rods ’N’ Rides committee member Karl Kempers. “Speaker Jon De Groot of Dordt University has a good message to share.”

Kempers, who lives in Sioux Center, said Rods ’N’ Rides is just a group of people who love motorcycles and Jesus Christ and this is a way to com­­bine them in a nondenominational way.

“It is an opportunity to show that not all bikers are bad,” Kempers said.

Fellow committee member Steve Lenters of Sioux Center agreed.

“This highlights our passion for the Lord and for riding,” he said. “We enjoy motorcycles and we enjoy the Lord. We ride to live and live to ride and we live for Jesus Christ. When you can tie those things together it’s a win.”

Lenters said Rods ’N’ Rides is a laid-back group that is built on relationships and participants stress not pushing the Gospel onto people.

“We let the Lord work,” he said.

While the Gospel is not pushed on newcomers, Len­ters said it still is important to spread God’s word, which is why the ride includes a worship service.

“We just plant the seed,” said committee member Shirley Schouten of Sioux Center.

The primary demographic Rods ’N’ Rides is trying to attract are the people who do not belong to a church, but Kempers said they invite anyone and everyone to join.

“Some people have enjoyed this more than going to church,” Kempers said. “They like the idea of doing something different.”

A person does not have to own a motorcycle, tricycle or even a classic car. There also is no fee to accompany Rods ’N’ Rides.

“We just open the doors for people to attend with us,” said committee member Al Schouten of Sioux Center.

The appreciation of the Lord is not just during the worship service but also during the ride.

“When I go down the road and take in nature I think ‘God must be having a good day,’” Schouten said.

A person’s senses are all hit when riding a motorcycle: The sights, the smells — even the bad ones — the feel of the air, Lenters said.

“I’m pretty sure God’s favorite color is green,” Lenters said. “I love going by all the fields.”

Every time Rods ’N’ Rides has departed for a trip there have been an average of six new people among them, ready to go.

Since the first ride was taken on Aug. 15, 2010, people have traveled from Sioux City and the Iowa Great Lakes to participate.

One location that Rods ’N’ Rides always makes sure to visit is the Vision on Vine event six miles north of Hartley, which was held June 30.

More than 40 motorcycles left Sioux Center that day. Kempers said 104 motorcycles were present at Vision on Vine which has been held the last Sunday in June for the last seven years.

All of the motorcycles received a blessing.

Kempers has a small collection of stickers indicating when his Harley-Davidson tricycle was blessed.

“There are a lot of testimonies from people whose lives have changed,” Kempers said.