A sunny sky, a parking lot full of motorcycles and an enthusiastic crowd were the backdrop for the third annual Bikers With Boxes event at the Billy Graham Library on Saturday, October 23. Nearly 1,000 bikers from as far as Florida made the trip to donate Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes filled with gifts for children around the globe.
“We had a great response this year. We learned – from the last two years – better ways to do this event. We also had a closer partnership with Samaritan’s Purse, as they provided Operation Christmas Child volunteers,” said Diane Wise, Promotions Manager for the Billy Graham Library.
Debra Cordial, Director of the Billy Graham Library, was also pleased with the joint effort involved to make this event successful.
“It has been an awesome day and I’m so excited to see this full parking lot. We’ve had a quite a few riders come in for the first time to do this, and many are repeat visitors from last year or the year before,” she said. “We have been able to promote this more regionally than in years past. One example is that some of the Harley (Davidson) shops helped us get the word out. This was a great joint effort and everyone has been so cooperative.”
There were more than 1,100 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes contributed through this event.
“We love to open the Library up to the bikers and we love their participation and the excitement they bring. They love to do things like this and give back to people. We always hope they have the opportunity to experience the message and the Library while they are with us,” explained Wise.
Personal Stories of Inspiration
This is third year that Charles “Crunch” Devnew has participated in Operation Christmas Child through the Wilkesboro (NC) Hog Chapter, and it is his chapter’s first time participating in Bikers With Boxes. “We have a big following in Wilkes County since we are close to Boone – the home of Samaritan’s Purse. This year, we had so many boxes that a truck was needed to bring them down,” he said.
It was a presentation he saw three years ago that inspired him to get himself and his chapter involved in Operation Christmas Child. “The presentation included a video about Operation Christmas Child and we got to see the actual process where the boxes were given to children all over the world,” said Devnew. “Just to see the smiles really touched my heart. It is hard to translate the bounty we have here to the kids who have nothing in other parts of the world. It just made a connection with me.”
Rick Hustead, a Billy Graham Library volunteer of over two years, has several reasons for his personal involvement in the Bikers With Boxes event. One of them is because of a lifelong connection with the BGEA: his uncle, Don Hustead, was the organist for the Billy Graham Crusade choirs and worked with George Beverly Shea from the ministry’s very beginning.
“As a lifelong biker and as someone who has such a personal connection with this ministry, this event is such a natural tie-in for me. The Christian groups that are involved in Bikers With Boxes know what it means to be forgiven and to give to others. But you will find that most bikers throughout the country – in general – have a real heart to give.”
Hustead announced each group’s arrival over the loudspeaker. This gave him the chance to meet many people and pray with several. “I had the opportunity to pray with man and woman from a relatively new church here in Charlotte. They tried to get a group together to come, but the numbers did not show up. Obviously, those two came anyway. I prayed God’s blessing over them and their efforts, as they feel called to start a biker ministry at their church.”
Steve and Cheryl Wallace are involved in their church’s C.R.U.I.S.E. ministry. C.R.U.I.S.E. stands for Christian Riders United in Service and Evangelism. They even brought their two school-aged daughters, Abby and Kelsey.
“We like to keep our children involved in every part of our ministry, whether we are giving clothes away or doing charity rides,” said Cheryl. “We want them to see what is behind the four walls of the church, where ministry is concerned.”
Daughter Abby enjoys doing ministry with her parents. “I like to do this because it’s fun to go out and help people.”
The Wallaces have been a part of C.R.U.I.S.E now for almost six years. “What we do is not just about riding; it’s what we do while we’re riding. It’s about whatever God puts in our path to do for others,” said Steve.
Richard and Beth Roessler of Wilmington, N.C. heard about it through their local riding group. “When we heard about this, we knew we had to do it. Our chapter decided to put boxes together, as did our church,” said Richard.
“With all the issues in the world it is so exciting to see all these motorcycles sitting in the parking lot of the Billy Graham Library that were ridden here to lend a helping hand. It is just so very inspiring. We’ll definitely be back next year.”
Many of the bikers got more than the satisfaction of coming to the Library to drop off Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. They toured the Library and got to hear Billy Graham’s story and ultimately, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Mike and Cynthia Staley of Wilkesboro took their first tour of the Library. “This trip through the Library just brought back so many childhood memories of watching him preach on television,” explained Cynthia.
“It’s amazing how many people Billy Graham was able to reach through his ministry,” Mike said. “It really encourages us to do the same.”