Recently, while working on my latest novel, The Christmas Daughter, I had to think a lot about the helplessness of children—not something everyone wants to have to think about. In the story, Boone, the big, tough-guy biker/roadie/cowboy, a guy who has resisted entanglements all his life, suddenly discovers that he has a 12 year-old-daughter by an old girlfriend. A girlfriend who was reckless and irresponsible and is now dying. Despite the fact that Boone never intended to marry and be a father, he now has to be one and, as he gets to know his daughter, his heart breaks at the neglect she has endured. At one point he expresses fear that she will never be able to experience trust and love and that it is breaking his heart.
It was because this story was so much with me that I was deeply moved by a story in the news about a group called Bikers Against Child Abuse International. This is an incredible organization. The members of the group are tough biker guys and gals—some with prison records of their own—who volunteer to support children who are victims of child abuse. They will do this by escorting children to and from school, by standing guard outside their homes if they feel threatened, and by escorting them to and from court if they have to testify against their abusers. This is their Mission Statement:
Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send 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 by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.
All the bikers who participate go though training, background checks, finger-printing, and screening. If they have been arrested or imprisoned in the past they can participate as long as the arrest was not for any form of domestic abuse or anything involving children. Two bikers are always with a child—the child is never left alone with one. When a case is reported to one of their chapters, the bikers go en masse to the child's house, present a patch, stickers and photographs, and tell the child that they are now part of a family—a family no one wants to mess with.
I am so moved by the people who do this. It takes a tremendous amount of self-respect and dignity to commit to placing yourself between the vulnerable and the dangerous. The BACA members who donate time to these kids are heroes. Kids are little and vulnerable which is why so many kids love dinosaurs and monsters and big, scary animals—they long for the power they imagine big, scary creatures to have. And so it is with the bikers. The children tell stories about the comfort they feel when they have to go into court to testify and they are escorted by and watched over by big tough bikers. In one story a judge asked a little boy who had to testify if he was scared of the perpetrator he was about to testify against. The boy said he was not. The judge was surprised and asked why not. The boy looked at the bikers in the first row of the court room and standing on either side of the door and said, “Because my friends are scarier than he is.”
These people are amazing. This is their creed:
I am a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I wont look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past has prepared me, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. Im finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I dont have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by the faith in my works, and lean on the strength of my brothers and sisters. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with power.
My fate is set, my gait is fast, my goal is the ultimate safety of children. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are tried and true, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I wont give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and showed up for all wounded children. I must go until I drop, ride until I give out, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, for He will see my BACA backpatch and know that I am one of His. I am a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse, and this is my creed.