Norwich family on the road blazing Gospel trail
By Sandie Shirley
2009: When the Brights hit the tarmac on two wheels it is often a family affair. Greg, with wife Julie and their two young boys, blaze a gospel trail as members of the Norwich Christian Motorcyclists' Association (CMA).
The Norwich couple, who met as missionaries in Beijing more than 15 years ago, bought their first bike in China. It cost them every spare penny but birthed a new ice-breaking mission on their return to England that has touched hardened bikers and old ladies alike.
Since meeting and tying the knot, life has been chequered, challenging and exciting as the couple have stayed the twists and turns on the road of faith. "We have had a lot and we have had nothing; we had joy and we have sorrow," explains Greg.
"God's the God of the split second timing. He has been there for us in dangerous situations. He knows the details of our lives. We know he is real, cares and provides – even though it may be at the eleventh hour – giving us the word of our testimony," says Julie.
Travelling by faith has been the fuel to their gospel message which is not exclusively for bikers. "Our bikes have helped to make our message accessible, breaking the ice with all sorts of people," says Julie who replaced one biker's request for the Koran while he was in prison with a Biker's Bible – a New Testament with countless amazing stories from global bikers.
For Greg, his mission has even helped clinch a life-long dream for one elderly woman when she rode pillion on his Harley Davidson during a summer fete appearance. It provided a ride of a lifetime and the chance to distribute another Biker's Bible which CMA members are committed to placing into the hands of every UK biker.
The exploits on two wheels have often included sons Tommy and Joel, who ride in their father's side car. They have visited appropriate bike meets and runs, including the British Motorcyclists' Federation annual event in Peterborough and the Eastern Lights at Lowestoft.
"Together with other biker members, it has provided an atmosphere to anchor, grow and share their faith and also to see them walk in the works God has prepared for them," says Julie whose family are also members of the Sidecar Federation.
The couple's union has been forged against the odds. They lived in different compounds on opposite corners of the sprawling city of Beijing, governed by Communist rule, when American-born Greg met his future English bride. They worked for the same mission organisation, teaching English to help empower the Chinese, but they came from different cultures.
He was a divorcee and she was single, but a divine call brought them together despite a 1,000 km separation, north of Korea, for much of their courtship when Greg took a teaching post in Changchun. Money was tight, danger and hardship were rife but they married in August 1994 during a fleeting return visit for the ceremony at City Church in Norwich, where Julie was a member.
They returned to Norwich 13 years ago but the transatlantic culture divide meant Greg – a teacher in the States – was unable to use his qualifications at English state schools.
A succession of jobs followed, including door-to-door sales for frozen food, until he became a course advisor and won the top award in East Anglia before the company folded and he lost his lucrative salary.
Instead, Greg became a house husband, looking after two young sons while Julie retrained as a primary school teacher while she juggled an MA course and a language club business from home.
"It does not matter what you have or don't have in your life, it is what you do with Jesus that decides where you spend eternity," says Greg.
Norwich CMA meet monthly at the Racecourse Inn, Salhouse Road, Norwich from 6pm on the third Wednesday of the month. For more information phone David Maile 01692 536900 or firstname.lastname@example.org or look at the Norfolk branch on the web site www.bike.org.uk
Pictured are the motorcycling Bright family with their bikes.