At 36 years old, 6-foot-5 inches tall, Mike McBride is a bearded, Harley-driving, tattooed, longhaired drummer who got his nickname, “Animal,” from the Muppet.
As you might imagine, Mike doesn’t look like the stereotypical church type. Yet church is exactly where I met him. In fact, he’s a regular drummer in our worship band.
Mike got an early start as a child in his grandfather’s church, but he admits it wasn’t a nurturing one. “My mom had a rough life, and I had too many step-dads to count.”
As a result of his upbringing, Mike “never took church seriously, because it didn’t seem to make much of a change with people. I decided to live life on my terms.”
For a while, Mike’s “terms” were pretty rough. His youth years included drugs and things that he’s not particularly eager to talk about. Fifteen years ago, that lifestyle took a dramatic change when he met his wife, Dawn.
As the two of them grew as a couple and started a family, Dawn started investigating faith. About five years ago, at 32, she challenged Mike to help her examine Christianity.
“The spotlight was back on me,” Mike explained. “She asked me to explain Christianity. The only thing I knew for sure to tell her was that faith was a relational thing.”
Soon, largely through Dawn’s encouragement, Mike returned to the faith first planted by childhood memories.
But his newly renewed faith was a bit different from his grandfather’s faith. “People don’t realize that you can be burly, tattooed and ‘bad’ for the right reasons, yet still have faith in God,” Mike said.
Mike once tried to fit in by cutting his hair and dressing a bit more preppy, but, he said, “it made me feel like I put on someone else’s skin.”
So, he returned to a part of his old skin — at least the skin that included motorcycle leathers and a brotherhood of motorcycle riders.
A few years ago, Mike found a way to express his faith within the context of his love for motorcycles. He joined a group called Bikers Against Child Abuse.
According to their Web site, www.bacausa.com, BACA provides a physical presence of support that sends “a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them.”
“I don’t stand quietly for injustice,” Mike said. “BACA works for me, because it makes a difference in a child’s life and gives them a better life than I had. At the same time, it provides my need for brotherhood without everything that goes with the outlaw lifestyle.”
There are many people who might tell you that becoming a person of faith means having to give up who you are and change everything. The truth is that Mike has learned that God’s not into exterior decorating.
What you look like on the outside doesn’t matter to God. He’ll take you just the way you are. God is an interior decorator. He works from the inside out. And the finished product is nothing short of amazing.
And I think that’s why they call it Amazing Grace.