If you want to be taken on a journey across continents, with people from all backgrounds and stories that intertwine in incredible ways, then read this. It’s a powerful book of how God is at work in the margins of society and uses ordinary and often unlikely people in extraordinary and profound ways. Sean Stillman shares his autobiography of his travels from Swansea in Wales to Australia, Ukraine, the USA, New Zealand, Europe and more as a biker for God’s Squad – a Christian Motorcycle Club – and all of the joys and triumphs of setting this club up in the biker community.
It is a story about real people living in real, and often heartbreaking situations. Where the most vulnerable people are, there is authenticity, transformation and a challenge to the church to be on the fringes. Throughout the book, Sean calls the church to action noticing the temptation to stay in the confines of the church walls. As a son of a preacher himself, he writes:
‘I am well versed in understanding the language and images of most mainstream church denominations, but it is a completely alien environment for those who have not grown up with it, whatever flavour you happen to choose. If you were to reverse the roles, it would be like asking your average churchgoer to step inside the local bikers’ clubhouse. A mixture of fear and discomfort would prevail.’ (pg. 105)
Sean writes with conviction, a real love for Jesus and people, and has a heart to see others encounter the living God right where they are. As well as his journey as a biker, it tells the story of Zac’s Place in Swansea, a community of people who meet together as they grow in their faith in Jesus in a culture that they are familiar with, without compromising the bible. It’s a space where even the most rejected person can feel at home and accepted. A mixture of bikers, addicts, rough sleepers, students and those in pursuit of truth come together in poverty of spirit.
What I love about ‘God’s Biker’ is how it is centred on a love for God and for others; it is a living example of what Christians are called to. No matter what trouble a person may be experiencing in their life, Sean and others like him come alongside them, affirm them and share the love of Christ. The book is filled with examples of the realities of living with the most vulnerable, from tragedies resulting in death to being physically beaten up for what you believe in.
Sean challenges Christians to rethink what the church is throughout and it serves as a wake-up call to the bigger picture of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. It may unsettle some readers who like the status quo and are comfortable with things the way they are, but it is a message that should be listened to. He says:
‘There is something of a barrier built between a lectern or an alter and a congregation. The ‘us and them’ feeling invites participation from a select few, and before long a community of people become spectators of a performance. This can be applied equally across many denominations. Our fascination in the West with giving prominence to extrovert personalities in leadership doesn’t just apply to corporations and governments. It has crept into the Church…’ (pg. 109)
Another highlight for me was how well-written it is. It’s visual so the reader can feel that they are accompanying Sean on one of his trips to various places from crossing continents to being in a bar or bikers’ club. He writes with humility and grace about the work he is involved in and the people he encounters. His love for Jesus is truly striking and a real encouragement to me. It is an interesting read for anyone who likes a good biography and you don’t need to know about bikes to enjoy it!
I would recommend this book especially to those who think Jesus isn’t for them, because it is a chance to see God in the places where society often looks the other way. Rather than thinking of Christians locked away in a church on a Sunday, this book will open up the eyes of the reader to seeing that God is at work in ordinary, messy lives and real transformation can happen.
Sean Stillman works in Christian ministry primarily among those many consider to be far removed from many church cultures.
Much of Sean’s work has been among fringe groups including biker communities and associated groups, where he has operated in both a missional and a chaplaincy role – a role which has been hard earned over many years and many miles on the road.
His work has also given him opportunities of speaking in mission gatherings, prisons and in a wide variety of mainstream churches throughout the UK and overseas – including Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Finland, Germany, USA and Holland. He was a regular contributor at Spring Harvest for many years and has previously been an associate of Youth for Christ and a supported missionary of Baptist churches in his hometown of Reading and also Swansea. Aspects of his work have been widely covered in the press over the years, including ‘The Guardian’, ‘The Independent’, BBC1, CH4, Scottish TV, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Wales and he has worked in conjunction with HTV on a TV series.
Having been in Christian ministry since 1988, he was ordained in November 2002, by Rev. Dr. John Smith and the leadership of St. Martins, in Melbourne, Australia, with whom he and Exousia Trust have had a long association. Sean has also been an Associate Missioner for Fresh Expressions.