JOHN Smith doesn’t ride motorcycles anymore but that does stop him from having an abiding interest in the God’s Squad Christian motorcycle club he founded 43 years ago.
Reverend Smith, 74, had to sacrifice riding motorbikes after a stroke a few years ago affected his eyesight.
He has also battled prostate cancer but his condition has stabilised.
While age and health problems have contained his physical activity, they have not changed his rebellious and outspoken nature.
His enthusiasm for spreading the word of God and growing the God’s Squad not only in Australia but throughout the world has not dimmed.
Reverend Smith, of Ocean Grove, was in Warrnambool this month to promote his book “John Smith On The Side Of The Angels” that has been reprinted this year with new information about the growth of the God’s Squad overseas.
During his time here, he also spoke at local Baptist and Presbyterian churches about why the Christian message was not being received by many people.
Reverend Smith, who was originally a Methodist pastor, said the abuse being disclosed at the the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse showed how many churches were “saying one thing and living another.”
He said many churches still lacked the courage to make an apology “for the horror of what we have done and to the reputation of the one we say we follow.” He expected it would take a generation for the church’s reputation to recover.
However he stressed that for all the abuse that churches had committed, it should be remembered “there is no institution that does more to bring care to those in need,” he said.
Still seeking to find ways to reach those in need, Reverend Smith said that after seeing the efforts of the “Beyond Blue” organisation, he would like to start a group called “Before Blue.”
Rather than patch up people after they break down, “Before Blue” would try to reach young people before they “screw up,” Reverend Smith said.
As part of that goal, he speaks to high school students as well as bikers.
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