Self-confessed biker Paul Henderson looks like one who rides to live and lives to ride than one who is the leader of a church ministry based at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Wetumpka.
Henderson said he has set up at the church once a week for eight years to deliver the Word of God, pray with those in need and celebrate with those who conquer a habit like drug addiction through his Fresh Start Motorcycle Ministry.
“We’re here (at the church) every Thursday night,” he said. “In eight years, we’ve never missed a Thursday.”
As is the case with effective organizations, meetings play a big part in the actual planning of activities.
“We do outreach in a different way,” Henderson said. “We do interventions. These big, ugly guys show up on their Harley Davidsons, we knock on your door, ask what can we do to help you and we pray.”
He said the main issue they help people work through is drug addiction.
“That is our No. 1 priority around here,” Henderson said. “It’s just amazing to see how (Elmore) County has people dealing with this issue. We got to find another way to treat the issue than locking them up.”
One way Henderson and the ministry are approaching drug addiction is by raising funds through a poker run and concert scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Saturday at Gold Star Park.
Those funds will be used to buy a home in Wetumpka which will serve as a recovery house.
“There is a recovery house in Montgomery that we use,” Henderson said. “Right now we do not have one in Wetumpka. We’re going to try to buy a home in this neighborhood (where FUMC is located) that will house six men at a time.”
Last week’s crowd was around 25 people.
“Sometimes we have 15 people here,” Henderson said. “It has been as high as 70. It’s just like church.”
Henderson knows the road many of these people are on; he said he was an addict.
“I’ve been clean for 22 years now,” he said. “When the Lord delivered me, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
Henderson eventually found himself searching for a church in Jackson, Mississippi.“I ride a motorcycle everywhere I go,” he said. “I’d been to three or four churches. They all gave me looks. One day, I was riding down the road and saw about 100 motorcycles. I pulled into the parking lot and parked. When I looked up there were about 15 ugly boys looking at me. They asked me what I was up to. I said I was looking for a church. They said you found it.”
Henderson said he was inducted into the Hell Fighters which is a faith-based motorcycle ministry made up of former biker gang members.
That time with the Hell Fighters is what planted the seed for Fresh Start Motorcycle Ministry.
“I was there for two years riding with those guys,” he said. “I came home and I was empty. In 2011, through the help of another pastor, I got this going.”
Pastor Matt Albritton arrived at FUMC a little over two years ago. He immediately saw Henderson’s talents at work in the community and the church.
“Paul is a compassionate and energetic leader in this ministry,” Albritton said. “He has a heart for God and a heart for people struggling with addiction. I have seen people lives transformed by the grace of God and then become active members of our church. Fresh Start Ministry is people helping people and then joining them on their spiritual journey.”
The ministry meets from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays at FUMC Wetumpka. Contact Henderson at 334-201-5428 for more information.