Following our last Executive meeting I focused on finalising the National Rally, preparing sermons, equipment, people etc. I was very excited about what God has for us and I wasn’t disappointed.
I was invited to preach at East Cleveland Baptist Church in Redcar, the town had been hit very hard by the recent closure of the steel industry; the church is attended by a family that have recently joined CMA NE Branch and are an asset to the ministry.
Sandy and I were on site at the CMA UK National Rally at Lenchwood Christian Centre, near Evesham between the 21st -24th July, in excess of 260 people attended including CMA friends from Holland and Belgium; we were also pleased to welcome back the Knights of Antioch who include their AGM during the weekend of the rally. We were challenged from God’s Word by Graham Jones and Colin Pownall who spoke during the Friday and Saturday meetings, I preached on Sunday morning. There was an excellent seminar led by Graham Sharpe asking people to share positive feedback from the outreach in their area. Once again we were able to bless our Mission partners World Horizons and Open Doors with financial gifts. Over 50 bikes went on the ride out organised by Alan and Liz, our worship was led by Matt Brooksbank and his band from Scarborough. At the end of the rally we had to say goodbye to Steve and Tricia who have run Lenchwood Christian Centre for many years, they will be greatly missed. I have confirmed our booking for 2017 as 20th-23rd July (Set up will be on Thursday 20th July) and plan to meet up with the new staff team as soon as possible.
The weekend after the National Rally Sandy and I rode to Northern Spain to attend the European Motorcyclists For Christ Rally near Barcelona, the rally had a good number attend considering it is a long way from the northern countries that are usually represented. The furthest distance ridden was by members of Gospel Riders from Finland the mileage was in excess of 4,000 kms (2,500 miles) one-way. On Saturday evening I preached on ‘Engaging Faith and Belief’. The host club was ‘The Covered backs For Him’ Carlos their president is a good friend of mine and as an example of humility after he preached, he washed the feet of nearly everyone present during the worship, this was followed by Communion; it was very moving. CMA UK had a large contingent travel to the rally, next year it will be in Latvia, Holland in 2018 then the UK in 2019.
After the rally closed Sandy and I took some leave and spent ten days touring the Pyrenees on our motorcycle. It was good to relax together after a hectic time the routes we took followed the Tour de France and were amazing.
On the weekend of the 25th August I rode to Aviemore to join the Forth and Tay Branch to run Holy Joes in the campground of ‘Thunder in the Glens’ Harley Rally, this is a large event with great opportunity to get alongside the bikers many from Europe. Fred and Fran Gill made it up with the Pilgrim Bike and were very busy sharing their testimony of ‘Forgiveness’. I had opportunity to spend time with many CMA members, bikers I know and vendors from other events.
Four days later I headed up the team in Holy Joes at ‘Stormin the Castle’ MAG Rally, near Durham, we had a good number involved and managed to supply marshals for MAG duties as well as a 24hr Holy Joes Cafe. The rally went well and as the weather turned nasty on Saturday the marquee became busy. Very kindly everyone sent me home on Saturday evening to get a good rest as I was preaching on Sunday at the Rixton Bikers Church 6th Anniversary. Last year I was so tired after 3 hrs sleep I nearly came off the road. During the rally I was approached by ex MP Lembit Öpik who works for MAG requesting an interview in the near future about CMA and Holy Joes.
The next day I preached at Rixton Bikers Church Anniversary, Sandy and I spent a few hours before it started with Colin and Anita Pownall it was good to hear of the impact the church is making and I look forward to its development in the months to come. The meeting went well followed by supper.
The weekend of the 10th September I rode to Essex to meet with the MESS Branch leadership over a meal and join them for their outreach stand at Essex Air Ambulance Day in Harwich. 10,000 bikers attended. Sadly during the charity ride a trailer became detached from a passing vehicle and collided with a biker who ironically needed the air ambulance to take him to hospital.
On Thursday 15th September I attended the Carlisle Branch meeting to give a presentation about understanding the MC world and our response. Paul Rudd from the Lakes and Lancs Branch shared about their involvement with the Cumbria Coalition.
Following our last Executive meeting Sandy and I rode to Spring Harvest’s Holiday Centre, situated in the Vendee, France (Le Pas Opton) we had been invited to speak at the twelve meetings during ‘Bikers Week’, it is a wonderful place and God met with us all in a variety of ways. We had 23 members of CMA present plus a couple who have since returned home determined to join. Sandy had injured her back prior to France and we were concerned she may not make it, but praise the Lord the pain reduced and she managed the 1300 miles without much problem. We shared the meetings which were morning and evening - I spoke seven times and Sandy five. Originally we were required to speak 18 times in six days but as it was the last week of the season the staff team was small so their individual meetings were cancelled and they joined with the guests. We spent time with the LPO management team on site who said they were very pleased with our input and pastoral care of guests. The feedback we received was very encouraging, many people spoke of being refreshed and challenged to a renewed focus on God’s calling. CMA were considered ‘very lively’ which I think was intended as a compliment - one older couple admitted they were a little apprehensive about it being Bikers Week but soon found we were friendly and passionate for the Lord! I am in consultation with the Spring Harvest Leadership about future involvement and shall let you know if anything is confirmed. Le Pas Opton is very nice with lots of activities on site, an excellent pool area and spectacular coastline to visit nearby. I would highly recommend it to anyone seeking fellowship, challenges from God’s Word and a place to relax.
On our return from France Sandy and I attended the final Biker Service and Biker Breakfast at Torver, near Coniston in Cumbria; this is organised by three ladies (one, Linda is a CMA member) from the local church together with Lakes and Lancs Branch. During the service the ladies were commissioned by the C of E, this is now an official ‘fresh expression’ of church. We counted 81 bikes present some were doubled up. We met bikers who attend the Farmyard Party. I spent a great deal of time speaking with local ministers, bikers and branch members. The day began very cold reaching a low of 1.5 degrees winter has finally arrived!
The day before Torver it had been my intention to go to ‘Ride to the Wall’ north of Birmingham but I was feeling tired after France and knowing I had a five hour round trip to Cumbria on Sunday wisdom prevailed and I had to give it a miss.
We were sad to hear that Paul Wrightson who was associated with the NE Branch passed away. I have been liaising with his church in Stockton on Tees and expressing our condolences to his family, a number from CMA attended his funeral. Although Paul wasn’t a member he was a valued friend and assisted us in many events, he will be greatly missed.
I am preparing to speak at a Men’s retreat weekend at Teen Ranch near Dundee, Scotland between 18th-20th November. The ministry is described as working with ‘Lost Sheep’ they are Christians who will bring their non Christian friends to an overtly outdoor event, riding horses, shooting, canoeing etc. Each day I will be preaching to the staff early morning then the guests midday and evening.
I rode to Chepstow to assist the Gloucester and Bristol branches with ‘Hoggin the Bridge’, this event is attended by 5,000+ bikers from a wide area of the SW and beyond. We had a CMA promotion stand in the paddocks and a Helmet Park in the bike parking area. We had a good interaction with bikers and Biker Bibles we offered to many. I would encourage all branches in that region to attend.
Sandy and I attended the Midlands Regional Day on Saturday 5th November where I led a session on ‘How do I begin a conversation with those I’m trying to reach?’
I have arranged to meet up with Gordon from Rest of Scotland Branch who is a professional film maker based south of Glasgow, he has offered his services to make a promotional DVD about CMA’s ministry (something I have been eager to achieve for many years). You may remember meeting Tim Farmer at our National Rally (the chap with a DVD / still camera and tripod) he works with ‘Daily Bread’ based in southern Cumbria. Tim has arranged a meeting for me with key people at DB who want to discuss devotional material that could be aimed at the Biker world and plans to compile DVD interviews addressing testimonies and introducing the ministry of CMA to be used on their website. This will involve Fred and Fran Gill. This is a great opportunity to raise our profile via DB.
Plans continue for Sandy and I to spend a couple of days in March 2017 with CMA Belgium, they want us to take some training, relax together and I shall be preaching in Brugge at the Evangelical Church that Patrick the President of CMA Belgium Pastors.
On Thursday 10th November prior to our Exec meeting Rob Urand and I shall be visiting Lenchwood Christian Centre to meet the new staff team and discuss our future rallies especially the EMC. We are keen to build a good relationship and plan well in advance to ensure we cover costs.
On Friday 11th November I shall be assisting the CMA outreach team at the NEC Classic Motor Show.
I continue my preparation for speaking five times at the Men’s Weekend at Teen Ranch, Perth, Scotland 18th-20th November.
On Thursday 24th November Sandy and I are attending a Tyne and Wear branch meeting, they are having their annual review of the events they have been involved in – and they will be serving Pie and Peas too! I am very encouraged with the success of this branch they will be joining us at the NE Branch Christmas Dinner too.
2nd-4th December Sandy and I shall be attending the CMA Scottish House Party organised by Amy at the Windmill Centre in Arbroath. This provides a wonderful opportunity to get alongside many of the Scottish Members and speak in a local church on Sunday.
January and February are months that I travel less so that I can focus on planning my year.
The NE Regional Day took place on Saturday 21st January at Boston Spa Methodist Chapel just off the A1 near Wetherby, the following branches were involved: North East, Tyne and Wear, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Branches. 46 attended, Sandy and I lead the seminars with small group work. The chapel had an open day so we were able to engage with the local community and I was interviewed on a local Christian radio show for 15 mins about the ministry of CMA. The day was a great success we have constant feedback that everyone really enjoys the Regional Meetings. The Minister Steve is a biker and has asked us to take a CMA service to share with the wider community – 10th September has been arranged.
On Friday 27th January I flew to Northern Ireland to spend the weekend with the branch members, I brought a couple of training seminars on Saturday and we had opportunity to visit the fellowship that is hosting our National AGM in April, the Church of the Nazarene in Carrickfergus. The Pastor Philip met with us and showed us around, their facilities are excellent. The branch are preparing well for everyone’s arrival in April. On Sunday morning I was invited to preach at a nearby church fellowship which went very well, I flew home Sunday evening.
Monday the 13th February – I took a train to Kilmarnock to visit the Rest of Scotland Branch and spend some time with CMA members Billy and Evelyn, Evelyn was a wonderful Christian lady she had cancer and passed away shortly after my visit. We prayed with Billy and I returned two weeks later for her funeral to celebrate her life, she is now safe with her Saviour but greatly missed.
16th / 17th February I visited the Cambridge and Bedford Branches, to bring encouragement and address any issues they had. I was very grateful for the warm welcome I received and leaders hospitality.
24th-26th February we had our annual National Executive envisioning weekend at World Horizons base in Llanelli, this is a key time together when we can focus a little more time on current issues and pray. On Sunday morning we visited a local church which most of the WH team attend. I was invited to lead communion.
28th February I had a meeting with Kevin the CEO of Daily Bread in Cumbria, he has offered to produce Daily Bread materials in a biker format free of charge for CMA to use as ministry resources. This is incredible and we shall be looking at how to progress. Daily Bread also plans to make DVD’s of CMA testimonies for their website and will allow us to use the footage.
3rd March Sandy and I attended the wedding of Vicky (Tyne and Wear Branch) to Martin near Durham, we then drove to Skipton for the night.
The following day we led the NW Regional Day at Knowle Green Chapel which was very well attended (we have almost outgrown the building) Sandy and I led seminars with small group work, Phil Parker and his branch organised the day. It was good to meet new faces.
On Saturday 11th March I organised another coach trip to the Scottish Bike Show at Edinburgh, we had 49 local bikers booked with breakfast at Morrison’s restaurant, we leave at 6am and return by 8.30pm. The day went very well – we met up with CMA members and many friends from the show stands. One biker on the trip informed me that one of his friends who normally comes has a serious illness. Two new guys asked for a copy of the Biker Bible.
I launched an appeal to prayerfully raise funding to print 20,000 Biker Bibles – our next batch will take us beyond the 100,000 mark, once they are printed I am planning a press release in both the secular bike press and Christian media. Things are progressing well but we must continue to pray for God’s blessing to come beyond all expectation.
16th March Sandy and I travelled to Brugge in Belgium – we were invited over by Patrick and his wife Anja, Patrick is the President of CMA Belgium. We spent a great deal of time encouraging them and met with the chapter members on Saturday, my presentation was translated into French and Flemish. On Sunday morning I had the privilege of preaching in the Evangelical Church that Patrick Pastors in Brugge, the Word I shared was very well received and they are eager for us to return one day God willing. We returned home on the 20th. CMA Belgium will be attending our National rally again with 11 bikes, one of their new members gave his life to Christ at our rally last year, praise the Lord!
24th -26th March I rode to Essex/Hampshire and Dorset. I presented a seminar at the SE Regional Day – the event was very well organised and attended. Thankfully the weather was amazing blue sky and sunshine throughout my 742 mile ride. I met up with HAND Branch members on Saturday evening and rode home Sunday after visiting Ted and Jackie’s Church in the New Forest.
I have been invited to attend the three weeks of Spring Harvest (two days at Minehead and one day at Skegness) to promote the Spring Harvest Bikers Week at La Pas Opton France, Sandy and I have been invited back to speak again between 18th-24th Sptember, 2017. (They give a big discount to bikers who attend). I shall be able to promote the ministry of CMA alongside the Bikers week.
God Bless you, Mike Fitton National Chairman CMA UK