Local pastor on a mission to save bikers

Pastor Mike Anderson models his colorful “Bikers for Christ” patch. His ministry in Greenville specializes in attempting to reach bikers and others living the biker lifestyle. Photos by Maggie Wells

Pastor Mike Anderson is in it to win it, as they say. It’s his mission to save souls, like he was saved. He’s not going after the average guy on the street. He wants to help people like him who are where he was back in 1993 when his journey began.

Anderson, originally from Colfax, is the pastor of Rock on the Ridge — the 2-year-old church — affiliated with the Word of Faith and With Bikers for Christ.

Anderson’s story of his own born-again experience back in 1993 has all the same pageantry as St. Augustine or St. Paul on the road to Tarsus. He’d been let out of the penitentiary, had made promises to go to church when he got out, but had resumed partying and the behaviors that had probably sent him there in the first place. However, a powerful voice of God and music that sounded like angels in heaven, reminded him of the promise he made in prison to go to church. That night reached him and changed him forever.

Anderson will tell you he lives to serve God.

Gregarious and enthusiastic, Anderson shares his story with anyone who wants to hear it. He’d been convicted on multiple felonies — some for violence. He was born into biker culture. His mom was a drug addict. He didn’t learn to read until he was 27. He changed his life around. He knows he can change others around too.

In prison, a judge’s wife taught him how to read. The first book he read? The Bible. She helped him get his GED. He’d had a sixth-grade education level.

On Friday nights at 6:30 p.m., he’s opening Rock on the Ridge to do just that. He keeps his eye out for old bikers like him, young addicts — people he feels need to know Jesus in their lives. On Fridays, he offers them pizza and soda at the church and something he calls “Christian crank” — coffee. He’s had a pool table donated and lots of board games. He also has bibles to giveaway and holds a short 20-minute “Biker Bible Study.”

“These are the people I’m trying to reach. I do well with people like me,” Anderson said. One of the New Testament Bibles he gives out is the Bikers for Christ edition. The cover emblazoned with the photograph of a biker patch and a slogan: “Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bells; we want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

Anderson doesn’t mind explaining the biker culture he grew up in. “There’s accountability. Everyone has done something illegal that everyone else in the club knows about to keep people in line,” he said. Some of those illegal activities may have been deadly. These are the people he has it in mind to help save and, for Anderson and his wife Christel, it starts here in Greenville.

Starting in Greenville

The sanctuary at the Rock on the Ridge church in Greenville where pastor and guitar player Mike Anderson preaches is a place where musicians can play and hear his message.

A little over two years ago, Pastor Mike Anderson drove through Greenville for the first time. The former Adventist Church on Crescent Highway caught his eye — as did the “for sale” sign.

At the time, he had a ministry in Grass Valley that he’d helped get off the ground — that’s what Anderson has done since becoming a pastor in 2005 — get congregations back up and running.

He didn’t have the funding needed initially to purchase the building, but a good price for his home in Grass Valley and other family circumstances meant Anderson and his wife were able to own the new Rock on the Ridge church in Greenville outright.

Anderson has started four churches altogether, with his wife Christel. They studied pastoral care and church pasturing together at Rhema Bible College in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and began their vocation in 2005. He worked with the Billy Graham crusades.

They have plans for the Rock on the Ridge church. So far they’ve had anywhere from 17 parishioners all the way back to the two of them. Recently they’ve had seven steady service attendees. Anderson is also a guitarist and incorporates rock music into his services. His bass behind the sanctuary is a custom Harley Davidson model. He wants to see jam sessions with local musicians happening at the church too.

“We are here to serve the community. Even though there are other services out there,” Anderson said. He welcomes the whole community, but especially what he calls the “outlaw biker” community.

“We need something more our own flavor,” he continued.

Word of Faith church and its affiliates often teach the so-called prosperity doctrine — a sometimes controversial doctrine citing that wealth can be viewed as a God bestowing riches on those who have faith. Anderson tells it like this: “You can talk about suffering and poverty, but what’s wrong with prosperity?”

Doctrine aside, he puts it even simpler: “I’m a biker converted to Christianity. Biker life was about beer, women, drugs. Repentance can change how you think towards good. As a biker, I’m here to rebuild your life.”

Anderson can be reached at 575-5693.