Todd Newkirk has a message for his fellow motorcyclists.
“We are here when you need us,” he said.
Newkirk is president of Calvary Riders #555, the Columbus chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. The nonprofit organization has more than 1,000 chapters in 38 countries.
The purpose of each chapter is to support the interdenominational organization’s effort of “sharing and showing the love of Jesus Christ to motorcyclists.”
“If someone has an issue, if someone is ill, we want to help,” he said.
Newkirk’s wife of 35 years, Sherri, is also a member of the chapter. She is a social worker at Fort Benning and he is assistant director at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery. They live in Buena Vista, Ga., and have a grown daughter, Amanda, who also has a motorcycle license.
They both come from homes that offered a Christian lifestyle and say their faith has grown during their years together.
He said his affection for riding comes naturally.
“My father loved motorcycles,” he said.
But Todd did not begin riding seriously until after serving 21 years in the U.S. Air Force.
“I love the motorcycle community,” he said.
His group meets every second Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Ed’s Country Cooking on Woodruff Farm Road in Columbus. People interested in finding out about the CMA and the local chapter can visit www.cmausa.org.
“This is a ministry,” Todd said.
It is not one, Sherri said, trying to get someone to join a particular faith or church.
The motto of the evangelistic association is “changing the world, one heart at a time.”
“Every now and then we get to see a life changed and that is wonderful,” Sherri said.
“As a Christian, I want to share my faith with others,” Todd said.
The organization encourages members to be active in testimony and Christian witnessing to all motorcyclists.
Someone wishing to be a member must have accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord.
But being a member and getting involved in its outreach is much more than that. It is also much more than getting a patch and carrying the Bible on your bike.
“Each person who wants to be a member goes through training,” Todd said.
That involves a course with a workbook and a dozen video sessions.
The content of the training covers a variety of topics but is focused on two major areas: personal spiritual growth and training for motorcycle ministry. It is a tool designed to address the specific needs of those interested in becoming involved in evangelism.
Todd said members of the group bless motorcycles and work with several community groups on their projects.
“We don’t take away from others with our own events but help to make those of others successful,” Todd said.
A national “Run For the Son” CMA campaign has raised about $69 million for pastors and missionaries.
Recently, the local group worked at the Toys 4 Tots Motorcycle Parade, which provided gifts for Valley Rescue Mission.
“If you want to tell others about Christ and want to live out your life of faith and ride motorcycles than you would be interested in what we offer. We provide a safe outlet and avenue for those who want to come out and ride and have a good time,” he said.
“It is a great opportunity for fellowship,” Sherri said. “We build relationships.”