Hundreds of people getting saved at biker funerals in Gqeberha

Ziggy and Jenny Duwe, leaders at Bikers Church in Gqeberha

Bikers and their families and friends are regularly getting saved at funerals in Gqeberha – formerly Port Elizabeth.

This week I had the privilege of chatting with a man who has a passion for motorbikes and an even greater passion for souls.

Ziggy Duwe, who leads the Bikers Church in Gqeberha says when he hears of a motorcylist dying in the region he expects a call requesting him to conduct the funeral. This, he says, is thanks to 18 years of building  relationships of trust with both Christian and secular bikers at numerous biker events.

Years ago God inspired him to make salvation altar calls at every funeral. Two and a half years ago he started tracking responses by ensuring that every funeralgoer who prayed for salvation received a numbered Gospel tract.

Since implementing the tracking system, more than 800 people have come to Jesus at funerals he has led, he said.

When the former seafarer and Salvation Army minister heard a call from the Lord to lead a new Bikers Church in Gqeberha, his wife, Jenny, whose first husband died in a motorcycle accident, said she had heard nothing from God. A year and a half later she told Ziggy the Lord had confirmed the call to her. She used her special savings to buy him his first motorcycle in 15 years.

While Jenny still prefers to keep off motorbikes, she ministers actively in the Bikers Church especially to non-biking spouses.

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Ziggy dedicating a child at a Bikers Church service

The church meets in Newton Park on Sunday evenings — “because Sunday morning is for riding”, said Ziggy.

 “A lot of bikers use their bikes as an opportunity to get away, to be free. And then you can come with a message that says: ‘You can still enjoy riding a bike, but you can be properly free when Jesus sets you free,'” he said.

“One of the things we also do early in the year is to have a blessing service and we pray over the bikers. 

“When I first started with bikers. We had 80% deaths on motorbikes, and 20% by natural causes. It’s flipped over now. And most of the time, the guys that have died on a bike were not at the blessing service,” he said.

The Bikers Church movement started in South Africa is 1984 after the evangelical Christian Motor Cycle Association (CMA) noticed that bikers they led to Jesus were struggling to find churches that accepted them. Bikers Church welcomes Bikers to come as they ride — in their leathers, cuts and colours

 At the start of his ministry the Bikers Church in Gqeberha attracted local CMA riders but slowly, as they consistently attended all biker events in the region and built relationships with bikers, other riders began to attend their services, he said.

The Bikers Church often pitches a coffee tent at biker events which gives them a great ministry platform. “People come for their coffee, especially in the early hours of the morning when they are ‘babbelas’ [hungover] and we talk with them. We are gentle, not judgmental because we want to build relationships,” said Ziggy.

The church also invites bikers to join them on monthly breakfast runs it hosts. And once a year they set aside time to go on a long ride, visiting different parts of the country and connecting with bikers they meet on the road.

“I believe strongly in relationship. For instance, I met a biker in 2005. He looked at me and put his finger up and said: ‘Ziggy, if you and I are going to be friends, don’t you ever talk about God or the church. And I said: ‘OK’.

Ziggy said over the years he made a point of connecting with this man at events and gradually learned his story of childhood hurt at a church orphanage.

“And then, when he was dying of cancer, eight years later, even on his deathbed, he would point the finger and say:’Don’t talk to me about God.’ 

“And one morning I said to God: ‘This man can’t go to hell, You’ve got to help.'” And God said: ‘This morning.’ And I led him to the Lord.”

“That was a Thursday. The next Monday he was in a coma and I said: ‘Gaz, you can go home now. And he went home that afternoon.'”

It’s all about building trust through authentic relationships and an authentic walk with Jesus. A few days ago he went to the local Hells Angels bar “to chat with a few of the guys”. “I’m just there as a representative of Jesus and if they want to talk and want to open up, I’m there.”

In one of the local hospitals, an ICU unit staff member calls the Biker Church if they have a patient who has been in a motorcycle accident. “One day he phoned me and said: ‘This guy’s not going to make it, you must come pray. So, this guy’s hand was outside the bed and I held his hand and I said: ‘Listen, I know you can’t respond because you’re in a coma, but I’m going to say the salvation prayer, and if you’ve prayed that prayer, squeeze my hand.’ He squeezed my hand.

“Aterwards, his brother came to me and he said: ‘My brother’s in hell.’ I said: ‘No, he’s not. And I explained what happened.”

Praying blessing over a biker

Ziggy said his passion is to see that people don’t lose their opportunity to go to Heaven. That is why he makes an altar call at every funeral he conducts. The first time he made a salvation call at a funeral he felt nervous about using someone’s death as a ministry platform. But he found that after each funeral people stopped him and said they would like him to conduct their funerals when they died.

He said he makes a point of visiting bereaved families before funerals to find out where they are and about their deceased biker family member. God always gives him a message for them.

At his last funeral, for a young, healthy biker woman whose harvested organs helped seven people, he said: “We’ve got an organ donor who gave His blood and body for us.” He said 18 people accepted Jesus at that funeral. The family of the deceased said, to their knowlege the young woman was not a believer. He said he always tells families of local bikers that if their loved ones have been to local biker funerals they may have prayed salvation prayers and be in Heaven.

About four years ago, at one of their annual memorial services for bikers lost in accidents, one of his members heard a man next to him pray the salvation prayer. A week later that man died in an accident and that man was able to assure family members that their loved one was with the Lord..

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One Comment

  1. Hugo Rademeyer

    I absolutely honour and pray for your CMA organisation as I, as a believer, realise the importance your impact has upon people who would possibly never have been reached. May God bless the excellent and unselfish work you do for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.