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North to bikers: ‘Walk the talk’
Russ Rankin, Baptist Press
June 04, 2009

North to bikers: ‘Walk the talk’

North to bikers: ‘Walk the talk’
Russ Rankin, Baptist Press
June 04, 2009

RIDGECREST — Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North served 22 years

in the Marine Corps, receiving the Silver Star for combat service during the

Vietnam War, along with the Bronze Star for valor and two Purple Hearts for

combat wounds. President Ronald Reagan described him as “an American hero.”

BP photo by Russ Rankin

Avid motorcycle rider David Burton, director of evangelism for the Florida Baptist Convention, preaches May 23 to fellow bikers at the Rally to Ridgecrest near Asheville.

North, however, told motorcycle enthusiasts at the 2009

Rally to Ridgecrest that he met Jesus Christ in 1978 “after a life of

self-centeredness, thinking I was God’s gift to the Marine Corps and that all

the medals and accolades made me a greater man.”

North, now a best-selling author, syndicated columnist and

host of “War Stories With Oliver North” on the Fox News Channel, recounted how,

when he was a cocky Marine officer, his commanding officer, Lt. Col. John

Southy Grinalds, modeled for him the servant leadership of Christ. And Grinalds

challenged North to examine the Scriptures, which led to his conversion.

“I would not know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior if I

hadn’t had someone intentionally share with me,” North told 600-plus attendees

at the motorcycle rally held over Memorial Day weekend at LifeWay Ridgecrest

Conference Center near Asheville.

North encouraged the crowd to be intentional about sharing their

faith and living like Christ.

Describing members of the military as heroes, North said

what sets heroes apart as they face danger and uncertainty is that “they have a

profound, focused sense of mission.”

“Many people get up each day and don’t have a sense of

mission,” he said, noting that Christians should daily be inspired to the

mission of spreading the message of God’s sacrifice and salvation.

BP photo by Russ Rankin

Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North challenges motorcycle enthusiasts at the Rally to Ridgecrest during the Memorial Day weekend to be leaders in sharing their faith.

Each person has the opportunity to inspire others through

leadership, North said, explaining, “If you have an affinity and a passion for

something — such as motorcycles — you can be a leader and have that sense of

mission,” he said.

To have a sense of mission as a Christian calls for

proclaiming the truth “in a culture that doesn’t know the truth” and often — as

North said is the case with his colleagues in the media — reject truth.

A true sense of mission requires believers to use the truth

to encourage others who are struggling, just as the Apostle Paul encouraged

believers to “put on the full armor of God” for spiritual battle, North said.

To have a sense of mission requires believers “to walk the

talk,” North said, adding that “faithfulness is a way of life” that the world

should see.

“How are you representing Jesus to the world?” he asked.

“For most people, the only Jesus they will ever see is the Jesus they see in

you.”

Christians have the confidence of “knowing where we’re going

and how we’re getting there,” North said. “Every prayer I utter, whether it’s

on the battlefield or a Senate hearing, I know He will be faithful to me. I

know where I’m going and how I’m getting there.

“You could be the person who shows (Christ to the

unbeliever) through your words and life,” he challenged. “You don’t have to be

a great preacher; you just have to be faithful.”

North said that had Grinalds “not been someone who walked

the walk, I wouldn’t have followed. I came to understand what was really

important in life … all because there was a person who was a leader in my

life.”

Earlier in the day on Sunday, May 24, North spoke at a

wreath-laying ceremony at the nearby veterans’ cemetery, an annual part of the

motorcycle rally.

A true hero is not the fantasy personification often seen on

television, he said, but one who is selfless.

“No nation has ever had a military force greater than the

United States of America has today,” North said. “They appreciate the prayers

of a grateful people.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rankin is a writer in Franklin, Tenn.)

BP photo by Russ Rankin

Rally to Ridgecrest share in praise and worship, led by a worship team from Thompson Station (Tenn.) Baptist Church, after a day of biking through North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.