Christian Motorcycle Enthusiasts Rev Their Engines in Support of Israel
On a clear Sunday afternoon in October 2011, hundreds of curious onlookers at the Western Wall plaza watched as a group of Evangelical bikers from Texas, known as the Mission:M25 Riders, joined by an Israeli motorcycle club, roared into the plaza like rolling thunder. They (soldiers, secular people, Christians, Orthodox Jews and everyone in between) watched in silence as the bikers, in black leather vests, made their way to the Western Wall to recite Kiddush [ritual blessing over wine], pray for the safety of Israeli soldiers and pray for the people of Israel. The American riders, from 11 different states, were there to say, “We support you.” There was no question – their message rang loud and clear.
It all began in 2010 when a missionary from Israel, familiar with Pastor Gary Burd’s with the Chaplain Corps for Run for the Wall in the US (CA to Washington DC) in honor of American soldiers, called to ask if his group of bikers would consider coming to Israel to help honor IDF soldiers. “I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around that, but started to think of all the possibilities,” recalled Burd. “During the course of our conversation he asked me, ‘You mean you would ship your bikes to Israel?’ I told him absolutely, I think it would be awesome.” After kicking the idea around with other M25 riders, Burd said, “The possibility of shipping bikes to Israel and riding them in honor of the IDF just blew up inside of us. And to watch God put it all together from there was an incredible opportunity to watch God’s hand at work in our own lives.”
So, the concept for this unique adventure with a mission, Run to the Wall Israel, was born. As the date drew near, 31 bikes were prepared to be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean and through the Mediterranean Sea to Israel. Batteries had to be disconnected, gas tanks emptied; each bike was carefully secured to make the long journey to the Ashdod port. Once in Israel, with the process reversed and a visit to custom officials out of the way, 31 bikers and their companions set out on a journey they would never forget. The group ventured up the coast to Tel Aviv, Mt. Carmel, Megiddo, and then inland to Nazareth, with most of the bikes fitted with Israeli and US flags.
The group planted trees at the Golani Tree Planting Center and visited the Armored Corps Museum at Latrun to honor the men and women of the IDF for past and present service. Along their journey, they handed out army-green bandanas with Psalm 91 printed on them in both English and Hebrew. Although the emphasis was on blessing Israel, the impact on the group was awe-inspiring. “As we were riding down the Megiddo Valley, I thought of all the history and future prophecies regarding this land – and there I was riding through on a motorcycle,” Burd said. “I teared up riding into the Old City. This is where King David and all the greats – the prophets and kings – walked.”
For many participants the highlight of the trip organized by Shalom Almog at Coral Travel & Tours, was riding up to the Western Wall and praying for the Israeli people and IDF soldiers. The bikers received a welcome generally reserved for celebrities from both tourists and Israelis waving and taking pictures as they rode through Jaffa Gate and through the Old City to the plaza. With the rumbling of the engines reverberating off the tall stone walls, Burd recalls praying, “God get glory.” As they pulled into the Western Wall plaza and were greeted by all the people gathered around, Burd recalls that one of the Israeli bikers jumped off his motorcycle and threw his arms around him and said, “I was born in this city. Never in my life have I seen anything like this.” Burd summed up his feelings about the experience this way, “To ride into the plaza and be able to speak a Christian word as well as a Hebrew word and mix those cultures together. I was taken aback.”
Looking back Burd is satisfied with what his team accomplished during their trip to Israel. The mission wasn’t about a ‘get-away’ or ‘family building,’ it was about a mission of just loving people,” said Burd, “and I think for the most part our guys did a bang-up job of saying, ‘we love you and thanks’”. Burd hopes their story will inspire others to travel to Israel to show support for the country and people, to build relationships built on what else? – LOVE. It is truly amazing what can be accomplished when people look to God for their inspiration and as Gary said – an incredible opportunity.
Learn about the Mission:M25 nonprofit ministry.
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