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Riding with God

‘Biker church' aims to transform lives

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    Members of Heaven’s Highway Biker Church in Oregon place their hands in prayer on Tanya Zam of Oregon, who recently had knee surgery.

    <THE BLADE/JEFFREY SMITH
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MAG-bikerchurch

Members of Heaven’s Highway Biker Church in Oregon place their hands in prayer on Tanya Zam of Oregon, who recently had knee surgery.

THE BLADE/JEFFREY SMITH
Enlarge | Buy This Image

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Rob Curtis still wears his rings, leather vest, and answers to his old outlaw motorcycle club name: "Bam-Bam."

But underneath the tough exterior he's a transformed man.

A year ago, the Toledo resident helped found Heaven's Highway Biker Church — the area's only congregation for Bible-bound bikers in black.

PHOTO GALLERY: Heaven's Highway Biker Church

Mr. Curtis found redemption through Christ in 2008, leaving his old rabble-rousing life behind after reading scripture. He wanted to join a church but was met by funny looks when he strode in wearing a bandana, Harley shirt, and jeans.

People used to scatter when he walked into a bar and "it started to get like that at church," he said.

After prayer, he and others decided to start a church that welcomed outsiders, outlaws, and anyone on the fringe or wearing fringe.

"We're called to be a little different," he said. "We're there to minister to those who are still broken and lost."

Anywhere from 25 to 75 people might show up for a Wednesday night service, and the support group Celebrate Recovery meets Thursdays to help those recovering from addictions.

"We call it a biker church, but you don't have to be a biker to come," Mr. Curtis said. "We're here to love on anybody."

That includes former outlaw club members, ex-convicts, and ex-prostitutes who meet for services and fellowship at Hope Ministries of Toledo, 525 S. Coy Rd. in Oregon. It's a place for people with a past who have turned to God for their future.

The goal: Transform lives through the gospel. It's not about being moved by emotion or momentarily swayed by a preacher who "tickled the ears a little bit."

More and more, Mr. Curtis answers to another name: Pastor Rob.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.

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