Right in Your Backyard

By Rachel Greco

Gleaming motorcycles—still warm from their 100-mile journey—swarm JAARS parking lot. How did 85 motorcycles and their riders end up at JAARS on a spring Saturday morning?

Some bikers and their motorcycles at JAARS

It began last year when Michael McCormack, the president of Rock Hill’s Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA) chapter, and Rocky Schlanger, a fellow member, walked along the road at a JAARS Day with John Pepper. John, a CMA member who serves at JAARS in the Land Transportation department, had just returned from a trip to Africa where he provided motorcycle training and orientation to national Bible translators who had received bikes from JAARS.

He explained to Rocky and Michael how JAARS never ships bikes, boats, or airplanes without sending someone to train the people how to use and maintain them. He also told them that sometimes the funds for the bikes have come from CMA.

Bikers learning about Maritime

“We were both floored, because neither of us knew that our ministry was tied to JAARS in any way,” Rocky recollects. “Here we are in each other’s backyard, and we weren’t playing together.” The trio decided that if they didn’t know how the two organizations were tied together, there was a good chance not many from CMA understood it either. The men wanted their members, some of whom have never set foot on the JAARS campus, to see that right in their backyard is a ministry linked with CMA.

Michael and Rocky’s chapter was going to host the 2019 Run for the Son event—CMA’s annual fundraiser which culminates in a last ride and delivery of the raised funds. Thus, a dream was born that day to host the next Run for the Son event at JAARS.

Glen Adams from Maritime Services at JAARS, also a member of the Rock Hill chapter, contacted Ann Rodgers, who works with tours on the center. After a meeting with Glen, John, and Rocky, Ann ran with the idea and received permission.

Glen Adams sharing about Maritime

On the final day of the Run for the Son fundraiser, bikers from various chapters in North and South Carolina raised money and rode 100 miles before arriving at JAARS. “One of the big challenges we faced,” Rocky shares, “was how to get all the bikers [to JAARS] without getting lost on their ride.”

They ended up meeting in Rock Hill and riding in two separate groups so they wouldn’t irritate drivers with a long line of motorcycles. Those who wanted to find it on their own did, and the two large groups made it with no incidents.

CMA bikers dedicating their raised money to God

Upon arrival, the group prayed and dedicated the money. Then they learned how various departments at JAARS—Media, Technology, Aviation, Maritime, and Training—impact Bible translation. “It was awesome to watch how closely a bunch of bikers paid attention to what was presented,” Rocky says. “Many of them came and told me that they never knew all that was going on between our two organizations.”

Glen heard from many members that they appreciated seeing where the money they’ve given in the past ends up. “Normally, all members see is the raising of the money,” Glen explains. “So it makes it personal when they can see where it goes.”

After the presentation, the bikers had the opportunity to take an airplane or 4WD ride and experience how JAARS has grown from a ‘jungle aircraft and radio ministry’ into a well-rounded up-to date technical and logistical that supports Bible translators worldwide.

Many of these bikers have lived with JAARS in their backyard, but never knew it. Now, they’ve experienced the heartbeat of JAARS—to see life transformation happen by making Bible translation possible in the most remote locations.

Who knows what the future holds for the two organizations? Glen, as a member of both ministries, says, “It was an incredible day, and I hope we can do more events together in the future.”

Explore the many ways to serve here at JAARS, whether it’s in your backyard or not!