Getting out of my car, I made sure I had my driver’s license, a small piece of paper with the name of the inmate I was to visit and roll of quarters for vending machine snacks and soft drinks. That’s all I would be allowed to bring into this prison, just about 20 miles outside of Dallas.
I had been in county jails and detention centers before. I used to be part of a Christian singing group that had occasion to dabble in ‘prison’ type ministry, but not like the facility I was walking into today.
I had never met the inmate I was visiting. I only knew he was part of Scorpions Motorcycle Club, his name was Donald Owens and his club brothers called him Zig Zag. My husband, Snoopy, asked me to go see him as a favor to the club. Snoopy couldn’t go because he was a felon (he did Federal time in ’79).
I, however, was raised in a ministry family, then, married into a ministry family for 27 years and never said heck. Yes, I see it now, I was the perfect choice to visit this outlaw biker, felon.
An old friend from my ministry past had been coming to this facility to hold Bible classes. After finding out Zig Zag was part of the Scorpions MC, she knew Snoopy was a Scorpion associate and decided to ask if I could visit Zig Zag.
There I stood, looking at this foreboding penitentiary . . . all by myself. I was there to spend time with a Federal Prisoner I didn’t even know.
Once I was in the visitation room, I spotted Zig Zag right off. He looked just as he’d been described . . . but the part about the big Bible tucked under his arm was a surprise!
A Bible! Can you believe that? This outlaw biker, felon . . . this locked up bad boy; I’m talking about somebody they called ‘Zig Zag’ was strolling out of the doorway with a teeth showing grin on his face, toting his full sized Bible just as big as you please! Somebody forgot to tell me he grew up with a Baptist preacher father, way out in the piney woods of East Texas.
Rats! That’s the kind of stuff I was running away from! Religion wasn’t anything but sinful, phony, two-faced, people that lived one life in public and turned into a monster at home. They seemed to gather strength from manipulating, whipping and abusing you. Yea, I knew only too well what religion was like. Barf!
After making sure we were both with the right person, we blathered away at customary introduction rituals . . . then, Zig Zag breached the . . . ‘There’s a Bible in the room’ issue and made it quite clear it wasn’t just for show.
The thought came to mind “If there was ever a time I needed to learn how to cuss, it was now – but what did I know? I couldn’t very well call him a ‘doo-doo head’ – not in a place like this! Grrrrr!
It seemed Zig Zag was planning on spending the afternoon with someone that could answer Biblical questions – he knew my background.
You see . . . I had myself a bona fide, turned on, tuned in . . . born again Christian with a ravenous appetite to learn everything he could about all the secrets locked away in his Holy Book. He was on a ‘high’ from the ‘Most High God’ and never wanted to come off of it. He had discovered every time he learned something new in the Good Book, it sent him on another trip and now . . . he was a true Bible Junkie. Yea buddy!
If you’re thinking I talked him out of our journey through the Book that day, you’d be wrong. Oh, I tried. I told him I wasn’t into that stuff anymore and figured since I was a ‘self professed backslider’ I didn’t have the right to present myself as a Bible Teacher. I told him . . . but unfortunately, by this time, I was blubbering and Ziggy wasn’t listening anyway.
He put on his ‘gentle’ voice and told me he understood where I was coming from but “What about this verse? What exactly does it mean?”
Seeing that he wasn’t going to be dissuaded, I just sat there with my eyes leaking all over my face and dripping on the table. We went back and forth; exploring things that we both knew were genuine. These were truths that we both had tried to run away from. We knew in our core that our ‘knower knew’ and it was the foundation this world spun on.
I visited him a couple more times in the weeks to come, before they transferred him too far away for me to visit anymore. The last visit we had, he was extremely troubled about getting out of prison – he wasn’t quite sure he wanted out.
He said “All us guys in here are tight. I’m afraid I won’t be able to find real Christians on the outside, like there are in here.”
I used ‘biker jargon’ to explain. He already knew that only 1% of all motorcyclists really live to ride. It’s not just a hobby or a sport with these 1%ers – it’s their lives and the brotherhood they crafted was the same kind of covenant that God had offered Abraham.
I drew the same comparison with church goers. Some went to church for social reasons – like participating in a hobby or sport. I told him he would have to seek the 1%er Christians out but he would know them when he found them.
Then he talked about his bigger problem. What was he to do about his club brothers when he got out?
“I love them.” He said. “I don’t want to get outa here and turn my back on them . . . they’re my brothers.”
I understood enough about the biker culture to understand his dilemma so I asked him – “Can you be around your brothers and stay clean?”
“Yes!” He exclaimed in a no-bones-about-it affirmative.
I said, “Well, go to your brothers and tell them exactly what you just told me. If they really love you, they’ll respect your new walk.”
Months later, when Zig Zag was getting out of prison, there was news about a ‘Sons of Silence’ patch holder in another state. It seems he had navigated the same path Zig Zag was facing. He met with his brothers and told them of his true conversion while being locked up. He expressed that it would break his heart to walk away from the brothers he loved. The story ended up with him being voted in as their Chaplain.
The new Chaplain would be expected to keep his communication with ‘the Man upstairs’ on good terms at all times so the club could call on him during family crisis. That meant living a clean life and being exempt from any activity that might blemish his Holy walk.
One thing about Bikers, they don’t much care WHAT you are, as long as you are what you SAY you are. No phony’s allowed and they wanted their Chaplain to live a true, Godly life.
When Ziggy was released from prison, his local pastor encouraged him in the same direction.
The rest of the story is history. Zig Zag became the first Chaplain in the entire Scorpions MC Nation 14 years ago. Throughout these years, other members from other chapters were born again and took their positions as local Chaplains.
Later, Zig Zag’s life became complete when he and Susan found each other. They shared the same vision for a Biker Church in Dallas. They married, coupled her vision of Dallas Recovery Homes with Zig Zag’s call to pastor and now they’re the busiest people I know.
Susan works a fulltime secular job, Zig Zag works; they co-pastor the church and manage 13 Angels Recovery Houses. They’re such a cute couple. Did I really say ‘cute’? Sorry Ziggy.