EFFINGHAM — Terry Fowler of Shelbyville admits he didn’t always make the best choices. But today he’s turned his life to Jesus and uses his motorcycle to share the good news.

“With my tattoos and piercings and my background, I am able to walk into a biker bar and they accept me,” said Fowler. “I used to ride motorcycles with the Untamed Brothers in Peoria and with the Outlaws in Peoria – both full blown ‘1 percenter’ gangs.”

“I had OD’d twice on heroin,” said Fowler. “I was probably one of the worst sinners you could ever meet.

He rededicated his life to God in 2002.

No longer a user of any illegal drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, Fowler said his life is different as a Christ follower. He’s been clean from drugs for about 20 years, sober from alcohol for 15 years and tobacco-free for seven years.

Today he uses his 2007 Yamaha V Star motorcycle as a tool to reach the lost and to help the needy. He joined the motorcycle ministry, Road Riders for Jesus, and is now president of RRJ Chapter 70, based in Herrick.

Fowler was among about 80 bikers who took part in the Son Rise Ride to support the International Road Riders for Jesus organization. The riders stopped at The Cross at the Crossroads in Effingham Saturday.

Alan Brock with the Oakland City, Indiana, Chapter 112, along with his wife, Rae Ann Brock, came to Effingham with a message. Like most of the riders, they wear patches to relay what their motorcycle ministry is all about.

“We’re all about ‘one more,’” said Alan Brock. “We want to see one more person lose the addiction from alcohol and drugs. We want one more person saved. We want one more healed. We’re after ‘one more.’”

“We’ll take the multitude, but we’ll take them one at a time,” said Alan Brock.

Robert and Shelly Bryson of Herrick just came across the county line from Shelby County to meet others from across Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Missouri at The Cross Saturday.

“We’ve been involved for about a year and six months,” said Shelly Bryson.

The couple became involved after learning about a fundraiser in honor of a former Road Rider for Jesus, Gary Sokolis, in Herrick. The couple were impressed by the good deeds the ministry does, including Angel Tree Ministry, helping to fund children’s homes in the area, or something as simple as putting fuel in someone’s tank.

Sokolis was a dedicated chapter member who died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Annually on the first Saturday in November, the chapter hosts a fundraiser in his honor called The Gary Sokolis God & Country Fundraiser in Herrick.

All proceeds stay local. Some of their fundraising comes from a game they play along the road.

“When we go on a chapter ride, we keep track of how many motorcycles we pass. At the end, we give a quarter for every motorcycle we counted and we pool that money together to help someone, usually at a local Casey’s gas station or something,” said Robert Bryson.

The last ride they collected enough for $50 worth of fuel. So they helped two people that day.

“Whoever we feel led to help, we help,” said Fowler. “The very first time we did that God told us to help a lady who pulled into that gas station we were at.”

Fowler said that day the woman told them she had her alternator go out on her car the day before. She had blown a tire that morning and had only $5 to last her until pay day. She still had to drive her husband to a doctor’s appointment the following Monday.

Chapters each have their own ministry that includes feeding and clothing the homeless and helping underprivileged children, veterans or families in crisis, Crackel said.

“When we get a group of riders from an area, we help them form a chapter,” said Crackel. “We have members and chapters all across the United States and in nine other countries.”

The nonprofit ministry includes sharing the news of salvation and using motorcycles, although not required, to serve its missions. There are no dues or fees, but there are chapter fundraisers to provide members the means to serve and help others.

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at dawn.schabbing@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151, ext. 138

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