Adventure of Faith
By Lavinia Ngatoko
Special to Assist News Service
AUCKLAND, NZ (ANS) -- New Zealand extreme sportswoman Mary Perkins may have attempted some of the most spectacular stunts done by a female on a motorbike, but these days she finds just as much satisfaction in sharing her faith.
Of course Scary Mary, as she has been nicknamed because of her death defying leaps, still loves riding, but she can just as often be found talking and encouraging students at a school, church, or a youth group.
When Challenge Weekly caught up with the world's number one female freestyle motocross (FMX) rider from Papamoa, she was enjoying herself with 20 youth at a Scripture Union Wakeboard and Moto-X camp at Lake Karapiro.
"We are coaching and training, but we are also having a ball," said the 25 year-old. "It is an awesome way to share your faith."
Perkins has bungy jumped off Auckland's Harbour Bridge attached to a motorbike and holds the Guiness world record for the largest jump by a female rider.
She became the only female to join the Crusty Demons, a group of daredevil motorcyclists from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, in 2006.
She soon discovered that entering a field dominated by men held its own challenges.
"When I joined I stood my ground and kept my moral standards," she said.
"They definitely tested me to see how far they could go. They do get their way with a lot of females, so they don't have a huge amount of respect for a lot of girls," Perkins said. "They were very inquisitive about my being a virgin and would ask me. I'm proud of it and of whom I am as a Christian. They now treat me with lots of respect."
She said there were definitely temptations out there, but she always had her Bible handy.
"I just keep in the Word and read my Bible. I'm not a perfect person, but I try my best."
Perkins was first introduced to a motorbike at the age of 14, to ride around her family's farm.
Taking an immediate liking to two wheels, Perkins got into motocross and later moved on to freestyle, which is where her passion lies.
In November last year she was signed to Motorex KTM Freestyle Team, which is backing her in her mission to revolutionize women's freestyle motocross.
She says despite the dangers of the sport, she loves taking on increasing challenges and overcoming the "fear factor."
She had aimed to become the first female to complete a back flip on a 250cc bike, but that has been put on the back burner for a while.
Competing in such an extreme sport means she has suffered her fair share of injuries, including a number of broken bones. She once re-broke a leg that already had a metal rod in it.
One of her biggest challenges at the moment is dealing with an old head injury, suffered after a serious crash early last year.
However she acknowledges that it is all part of the sport, and ultimately it is God who is in control. She has to really trust God to protect her.
"I definitely say a little prayer before shows."
Last year was a busy one, with Mary taking part in the Crusty Demons tour of New Zealand and performing at New Zealand's largest Christian music festival, Parachute Music Festival.
She also traveled to the United States where she participated in a number of shows.
However one of her major goals for 2008 is to "stay healthy," she said. "Right now I also want to challenge kids to think about God. This means more to me even than my riding."
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Lavinia Ngatoko reports for Challenge Weekly, New Zealand's independent and non-denominational Christian newspaper.
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