Many in the Sulphur community know of the Open Door Biker Church and its impact on the area. And there are those who say that through the assistance they received from the church they were able to change their lives and become productive members of society once again.
Pastor Jay Lawson and a couple of men he says he wants to keep around forever, helps to keep this small church serving the community — of which it is a big part.
Lawson recently took over as Pastor of the church, having served as the Assistant Pastor for a year prior. He said of the passion the church has for giving, “Everything is donated, so we really don’t buy much of anything, but our electricity bill is high. As you can see, we are a very small church and there’s not very much money that rolls through here. Everything that we do is all donations, it’s all God — 100 percent.”
From Monday through Friday a hot meal is served beginning at 11:30 a.m. Usually between 25 and 50 people will show up for the home cooked meal. One day last week a record 66 people sought them out for a hot meal. The church has fed approximately 2,500 people just since the beginning of the year and has supplied free clothing to 3,862 visitors through the generosity of donations.
Nobody is ever turned away and food boxes are also given out on an as needed basis. The one requirement is that the person eat the noon meal with everyone else and around 1 p.m. the food boxes are distributed. A food box can be expected to feed a small family for about a week and may include ground meat, sausage, chicken, pasta, spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables, rice, a bag of beans, something sweet, juice, grits or oatmeal. The items vary from box to box but no one who needs help will leave empty handed.
In addition to serving the spiritual and physical needs of many in the community, the church also has a drug rehabilitation program with meetings held on Mondays at 6 p.m. The Temptations Known to Man meetings are based on a Christian 12-step recovery approach and actually has beds for 12 men on-site at a house next door to the Open Door Biker Church. All men in the program are required to attend meetings and stay exclusively at the church for the first three months, not seeking employment during this time but rather pitching in where needed. Donated dishes, clothing, appliances, beds, and furniture are all sorted and made ready by the men in the program. After the initial three months, the men can then seek employment outside of the facility with the goal of being self-sufficient by six months in the program.
Pastor Jay knows where these men are coming from, having experienced and seen most of the things that the men who seek help at the Open Door Biker Church have experienced. “I’ve done all that stuff and God delivered me from all of it and I’ve never been happier in my whole life. I’m a walking testimony that there is hope,” he said.
The church is set up to assist only men but Pastor Jay stated that he wishes some organization would take it upon themselves to open a shelter or program for women in Sulphur. He said that several times a week women, many with children, will show up looking for a place to stay. But other than referring them to facilities in Lake Charles, which are usually full, there’s simply nothing the church can do in the way of housing.
The Open Door Biker Church holds a Bible study at 8:30 every morning, Monday through Friday. Anyone can attend these meetings as well as Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Thursday services at 7 p.m.
“Everything that Vince built here, I have no plans to change,” Pastor Jay said of his predecessor. “I like the way he put it, ‘I just want to see it grow.’ I want to keep doing everything that he would have done.”
He continued, “Jesus came into the world, He was God in the flesh. But He was also a man, He was a King, He was a Savior. But He didn’t come into the world to be served. He came into the world to serve. He washed His disciples’ feet, He healed people, He helped people. The Bible says that He’s supposed to be an example to us. And I’ve latched on to that statement. I’m trying to let Him be my example. I try to serve people, I don’t want to be served.”
The church is always willing to take donations either monetarily or in the form or clothing, food, and furnishings. Nothing is ever turned away but several items that are always needed are: cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, toiletries and personal hygiene products, diapers, baby wipes, drink mixes, powdered milk, meat, spaghetti sauce, pasta, canned goods, bread, eggs, peanut butter, jelly, rice, and the list is endless.
For those wishing to help restock the pantry at the church, make a monetary donation, or if you have furnishings, appliances, clothing or any other gently used item, Open Door Biker Church is located at 423 West Burton Street in Sulphur. The phone number is (337) 888-3126.