Story by: Vanessa McCray | Toledo Blade
Rob Curtis still wears his rings, leather vest, and answers to his old outlaw motorcycle club name: "Bam-Bam."
But underneath the tough exterior he's a transformed man.
A year ago, the Toledo resident helped found Heaven's Highway Biker Church — the area's only congregation for Bible-bound bikers in black.
Mr. Curtis found redemption through Christ in 2008, leaving his old rabble-rousing life behind after reading scripture. He wanted to join a church but was met by funny looks when he strode in wearing a bandana, Harley shirt, and jeans.
People used to scatter when he walked into a bar and "it started to get like that at church," he said.
After prayer, he and others decided to start a church that welcomed outsiders, outlaws, and anyone on the fringe or wearing fringe.
"We're called to be a little different," he said. "We're there to minister to those who are still broken and lost."
Anywhere from 25 to 75 people might show up for a Wednesday night service, and the support group Celebrate Recovery meets Thursdays to help those recovering from addictions.
"We call it a biker church, but you don't have to be a biker to come," Mr. Curtis said. "We're here to love on anybody."
That includes former outlaw club members, ex-convicts, and ex-prostitutes who meet for services and fellowship at Hope Ministries of Toledo, 525 S. Coy Rd. in Oregon. It's a place for people with a past who have turned to God for their future.
The goal: Transform lives through the gospel. It's not about being moved by emotion or momentarily swayed by a preacher who "tickled the ears a little bit."
More and more, Mr. Curtis answers to another name: Pastor Rob.