by Debbonnaire Kovacs

Next in our summer series is a story about “Rev It Up! Revival”—a camp meeting that probably would have shocked the church founders—though they might have loved it, once they got used to it!
For Pastor Tom Hughes, pastor of the Newark, Ohio, Seventh-day Adventist Church and longtime member of the Christian Motorcycle Association, a biker camp meeting was a no-brainer. In 2011 he and others organized the first one, and Dave Weigley, Columbia Union president, was its first keynote speaker. Hughes says about 100 people attended that first one. The second one brought 125, and this year there were about 140 attendees—and of course, 30-40 or more bikes!
A few weeks before the camp meeting, which is held in mid-June, Newark holds an annual Strawberry Festival. Bill Rickett, a Newark church member, urged the church to put up $125 for a booth. It would raise local awareness of Adventists and their ministries, and might even open a door to salvation for someone. So the church agreed, and Rickett and several other volunteers worked hard to bring it off.
Among those volunteers were Pastor Hughes and his wife, Debbie, and a man named Brett Opdyke. According to Hughes, Opdyke “is one of those people who never met a stranger. He stands in front of the table and talks to everyone.”

Debbie Hughes and Brett Opdyke talk to visitors at the Strawberry Festival
One of those he talked to was Jay Estep, a biker. So of course, Opdyke told Estep about the biker camp meeting which would be held shortly, and invited him to come. Estep did.

Jay Estep and his motorcycle at Rev It Up! Revival
At the Rev It Up! Revival, Estep and the rest of the crowd were treated to a concert from the GloryWay quartet and several sermons—events similar to those at camp meetings across the nation. It was the content that was intriguing:

  • the story of Leave a Mark Ministries, a ministry especially for bikers, told by one of its founders, Paul Collins
  • sermons with titles like “God of Everyday” and “Trading the Scarlet Letter for the Scarlet Cord,” given by Dick Montanez, chaplain for the Sabbath Keepers, a biker ministry with chapters all across the country
  • another sermon, by Tom Hughes, called “Christ in the Cross Bones,” detailing the startling Christian background of a symbol that has been largely hijacked by various ungodly groups—the skull and crossbones
  • the Sabbath worship hour given by Preacher Man John Harris, President of Armor Bearers Motorcycle Ministries, which has a church and a community services center which provide, among other things, free dental and health care to bikers
  • a presentation by Juan Santos, president of Adventist Motorcycle Ministries Ohio (another organization with chapters all over)

Then there were the activities—“biker games” (I was afraid to ask), and of course, rides in gorgeous Amish country.
On Sunday morning, Jay Estep, the man who had been invited at the Strawberry Festival, gave his heart to Jesus, to the thrill of all present. And when he left, he said, “See you Saturday!” He’s been attending Newark Seventh-day Adventist Church ever since. More importantly, he’s been volunteering at the community services center, which is the sort of activity that gives a person “ownership” in his or her new family, and keeps them in the fold better than anything else.
Next year, Hughes says they will “break the gender barrier” by having women speakers for the first time, and in fact, this reporter is honored to be one of them.
Learn more at any of the sites below:, Tom Hughes’ biker webpage, where you can see pictures from this year’s Rev It Up! Revival Hear for yourself the presentation on the origins of the skull and crossbones. Hughes also has a book, available at his website and at, the website of the Sabbath Keepers Just what it says.