Billy Rivers: A Hardened Biker Switches Gears
By Rob Hull
The 700 Club
CBN.com - “When the first big biker on a loud Harley Davidson pulled up, I looked up at him and I said, ‘That’s what I want to be right there.’ As a child I knew it.”
Billy Rivers’ love for motorcycles started when he was a boy. His drug use started shortly after that. By the time he was 17, he traded normal teenage dreams for motorcycle gangs and a needle full of heroin.
“My dream in life was just another needle with heroin or cocaine. And then as the newness started wearing off of this, then I started looking for the drugs not necessarily for the recreation part of it, but because my body was telling me that I had to have it. It was my every day thought.”
He was part of a notorious motorcycle gang and thought he had it all.
“I was pretty much a social outcast of society at that point, and in the drug world and in the motorcycle world I was accepted. I had really what I wanted. All I had to do was go steal and the drugs would be there, as long as I could steal enough to support that habit. And I knew there was another side of life, but I had no idea how to get out of this.”
His life of drugs and crime landed him in prison for eleven years.
“I would put this persona on that I am this tough guy and at that point in time I was doing my best to live that image, but the real Billy was hid inside.”
When Christian ministers came to the prison, Billy sat and listened, anything to get out of his cell. But believing in Jesus didn’t fit his image.
“And like I told one preacher, I said, ‘If I can’t see Him and if I can’t touch Him and if I can’t talk to Him, you’re never going to make me believe that He’s real.’”
“He said, ‘I’m not going to give up on you Billy.’”
One day a visiting preacher passed Billy’s name on to John Capatano, a chapter leader of the Christian Motorcycle Association.
“I started receiving mail, letters from this man John Capatano saying, ‘I don’t know you but I love you.’ I’m reading these letters and saying, ‘Wow! Is he drunk or why would this man be telling me he loves me? I’m an ex-heroin addict. I’m a convict. I’m a thief. I’m a liar. Why in the world would this man be telling me he loves me?’”
When he was released from prison Billy agreed to meet with John.
“Johnny did something that just totally showed me the love that he had been talking about; that all the preachers had been talking about. Not knowing me, he opened his wallet and gave me $60. He said ‘Billy, go buy yourself some new clothes.’ And I said “Why? What do you want in return?’ He said ‘For you to understand the love of Jesus Christ. That’s what I want in return.’”
Soon after, Billy visited a Christian Motorcycle Association meeting. The people he met amazed him.
“When I walked up into their meeting and said ‘I’ve just got out of prison, ex heroin addict,’ I was perfectly honest with everybody. ‘I’m the lowest of the low, but I heard that you people love people like that.’ And they said, ‘Yes we do. Come on in.’”
“When all these people kept showing me the same amount of love and even more than the next one and saying, ‘You know what? I love you man. I don’t even know you but I love you.’ I started believing this and I said, ‘Well, why are these people treating me like this? I’m so accustomed to the drug world. Why are these people so different?’”
“I got on my knees in my room at home. Closed the door by myself and I said, ‘Lord, my life’s Yours. All my life I’ve known dirt, filth, stealing and lying. Lord, the only thing that appeals to me these days, as of right now, is You. I hear You now and I can even touch You because I have Your living word here in my hand.’ And that’s when my life changed.”
“The Lord used second Corinthians 5:17 to let me know, ‘You’re not the same anymore. I own you. You are Mine. I have you under My wings. I love you. I forgive you of everything you’ve ever done. Old things are passed away and behold, all things are become new.’ And I said, ‘Lord, that’s me.’”
Billy lives a new life today. He still rides motorcycles, but no longer with a gang. He’s the chaplain for the New Orleans chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association.
“I have never experienced anything like this and I would never give it up for anything that I would ever experience. Jesus Christ is the Way the Truth and the Life, so being a servant today for Jesus Christ is the most wealthy thing - it’s the most blessed miracle -that I could ever imagine in my life. God’s awesome.”
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