Yesterday was one of the saddest days in my life. I love motorbikes with a passion. I really love the freedom of the open road. I love the brotherhood of bikers.
BUT: there is also the sad side of motorbikes. For the freedom, there is a price. Motorbikes can be dangerous. And motorists even more dangerous.
In our town there was this young man, Koos van der Walt, that I have known since he was 10 years old. I really got to know him well when he was 17, and in my confirmation class in our church. A young man, full of life, and laughter, and joy.
For some of the conservative people in our town he might have been out of their box. He had tattoos and piercings, and he mixed with “funny people”. That is one of the sins of the traditional church- we like our Christians to be fitting nicely into our preconceived ideas of what a good person looks like. That cookie cutter mold of sweet, never naughty, never drinking a beer or gasp: a Tequila, never having his skin blemished by a tattoo kind of mold.
Koos was definitely out of that box. But: he really was such an example of LOVE. He loved life, he loved his family and friends. He loved people, and always made people feel better about themselves.
Last Saturday there was a bike rally at our town. He and some friends rode through our main street. He was in front. And as I think now, I should have been there too, but I can’t ride for another week, healing after an operation. In front of the hardware store a guy in a pickup truck tried to enter their parking space quickly across the nearing traffic. After missing a BMW car barely, he managed to collide, and ride over Koos and his bike. Koos died very shortly afterwards on the scene.
This is shocking news to us! How does one die in the main street of a town on a motorbike? It seems impossible, and yet…
This is Koos’ friends tribute to him on facebook…
Yesterday we held his remembrance service at our church.
This guy really touched a lot of people’s lives! Our church can accommodate nearly 800 people, and nearly all seats were taken. A lot of bikers from a lot of different clubs (at least 4 clubs) were present.
I am not yet able to stand and deliver a sermon, so my biker colleague did an excellent job of that, with the amazing promises in Romans 8: 37-39. I did the farewell ceremony at the hearse, before his body was taken away for cremation.
What really moved me to tears was when I exited the church with Koos’ family, just behind his coffin on the way to the hearse. All the bikers stood a guard of honor, and did a helmet salute, and it was a goosebumps moment- there is such a brotherhood among our South African bikers. Yes, the clubs may have their differences, and sometimes there are a lot of inside politics in a club. But when one of us hits the tar, they stand together.
I am sorry to say that I have sometimes experienced more love and acceptance in the brotherhood of bikers, than in the church. I would love to think I am trying my best to lead our church to be such a place of love, and acceptance, a place where you may be yourself out of the box of peoples opinions. But yesterday- that biker tribute to a fallen brother has really touched my heart deep!
I am so glad I have known Koos, I am so glad he was out of the traditional mold of what our people are supposed to be. I have learned a lot from him, and respected the man he was.
So long, Brother, may the road ahead be a good one, full of good twisties, and empty of cars and pickups…