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Amazing Grace at the Crossroads
Most people don’t think of Harley-Davidsons and leather jackets when they hear the word “church.” But the members of freedom crossroads biker church wear their patches with pride as they represent Jesus to those who might not otherwise darken the doors of a church building.
WEARING THE MESSAGE – Billy “Wahoo” Lumpkin has attended Freedom Crossroads from the very beginning. He is also a proud member of the Faith Riders, a motorcycle ministry passionate about sharing Christ with the world.
You don’t have to be a biker to be welcomed into Freedom Crossroads Biker Church. At the Holdenville house of worship, bikes are optional because the love of Christ keeps things rolling along.
The small, tight-knit congregation is just months away from gathering in a new sanctuary on their property in Holdenville, Oklahoma. Pastor Allen “Speedy” Briggs says Freedom Crossroads Biker Church found itself at a literal crossroads at a crucial time in their building project.
In early 2020, Briggs met a man through what he considered a series of divinely orchestrated events, and the man connected the church with a group of volunteer Christian builders. The man and his volunteer group believed in Briggs and in his congregation’s mission to spread the Gospel, so they agreed to travel to Holdenville to help the biker church build a sanctuary.
It was then that Briggs and his congregation came to an important fork in the road. They had submitted two separate loan applications — one to a local bank and one to WatersEdge Ministry Services.
The COVID pandemic had slowed the loan application process to a snail’s pace. But when plans for the project fell quickly into place due to the volunteer builders, the need for funding became urgent. The church had to decide between the two loans rather quickly because the volunteers were on a tight timeline.
“We had to have everything on the ground ready to work when they arrived,” Briggs says.
“We applied right when COVID hit and it was four or five months that we were all kind of sitting around waiting to see what was going to happen. Then I got a call back from both of them (the bank and WatersEdge).”
Briggs says the church’s leaders chose WatersEdge, in part, because they knew the interest on the $30,000 loan would be funneled right back into ministry. (WatersEdge returns loan interest to churches through ministry investments.) With the loan secured, the project began in earnest.
The volunteers assembled the majority of the new sanctuary in a few weeks’ time, leaving some interior trim and electrical work to be completed by Freedom Crossroads’ members. Now only a few projects remain before the structure is ready for services.
“Getting the loan through WatersEdge took care of a deficit that prevented us from moving along. So, instead of taking an extra year or two to get things finished, construction was done in about two months,” Briggs says.
Chain of Events
The preacher led worship on a recent Sunday morning, strumming his guitar while he sang songs of his Savior. Later in the service, he became emotional as he shared the church’s testimony of faith.
Church members sat together at tables as their pastor explained that their congregation “family” had come a long way. He and his wife, Jody, both schoolteachers, planted the church in 2013 after being commissioned by First Baptist Church of Holdenville.
A motorcycle rider joined by several friends who also rode motorcycles, Briggs says he patterned Freedom Crossroads after a biker church in Texas, called Broken Chains Freedom Church, where he had led worship. Briggs liked the congregation’s “relaxed environment, down-to-earth message and upbeat music.”
PRAISE HIM – Pastor “Speedy” Briggs has led Freedom Crossroads for seven years. God led Briggs and his wife to plant the church following their experience at a biker church in Wichita Falls, Texas.
The hallmark of a biker church isn’t necessarily that everyone rides to services on a motorcycle, though Briggs and church members like Billy “Wahoo” Lumpkin and Roger “Crossbone” Pickett do just that. Rather, Briggs says biker churches are typically less formal than traditional congregations and often draw people who may not want to attend the latter, for whatever reason. Freedom Crossroads’ motto explains this premise in a different way: “Worshiping the same God of the same Bible, doing church a little differently.”
Briggs says Freedom Crossroads began with about 19 people meeting in the loft of a building at a used car dealership. They took the church outside for services in a park once a month.
Freedom Crossroads moved to a local lodge building after outgrowing the car lot. Several members found it humorous that the lodge building included a pool table, which fit the church’s nontraditional nature.
The congregation eventually started a building fund while continuing to meet at the lodge. Briggs says they found an ideal property for a permanent church home, but the man who owned the property didn’t want to sell it to them. He agreed to allow the church to lease the property for a nominal fee, but later, instead of selling it to them, he felt the Lord wanted him to deed it to them free of charge
after a year.
Briggs says through this amazing chain of events, the congregation moved into a building on the property and used the building fund and many volunteer hours to fix it up for use as its current temporary worship space.
“God came through. It’s amazing the way He works,” Briggs says.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS – First a floral shop, then a barbecue restaurant, Freedom Crossroads’ facilities required many hours of volunteer prep from church members before construction began.
Room to Grow
The church has drawn an average of about 40 people for Sunday services, even in the midst of the pandemic. Many other members watch services online and Briggs expects to see more of them returning to in-person worship soon.
When they do, they’ll be welcomed back by members like Elaine Jones and her husband, John. They met the Briggses at a cafe one day and took the couple up on their invitation to visit the new church. Jones says they loved Freedom Crossroads immediately.
“We’ve been with them since the beginning when Speedy was just getting started. They make you feel welcome. They don’t make you feel like you don’t belong,” she says. “When people hear ‘biker church,’ a lot of things go through their mind, but it’s a good church, a really loving church.”
Billy “Wahoo” Lumpkin says he became a member of Freedom Crossroads during the church’s second Sunday worship service. Lumpkin has marveled at the ways the Lord has proven His faithfulness to the congregation.
“It’s amazing the things that happened — it was just like dominoes,” he says. “Us getting the loan to be able to do this. And then it would have taken us two years to be able to do what the Volunteer Christian Builders Association did in two weeks.”
‘For His Glory’
When the entire building project is complete, the church will have its new sanctuary and a nearby bike repair shop. The sanctuary will seat about 50 people with tables and chairs and about 100 people if rows of chairs are set up instead. The bike repair shop is intended to be a point of outreach where riders in the community can work on their bikes while being ministered to by members of the congregation.
“God took what appeared to be a small thing and turned it into something huge,” Briggs says. “It’s not about a building. It’s about turning it into something huge for His glory.”
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